Apparently, the children of American women who conceive through IVF are not considered U.S. citizens unless the egg or sperm donor involved is an American citizen. The paper follows the story of Chicago native Ellie Lavi, who gave birth to twin girls in Israel. She found that the U.S. State Department asked some surprisingly detailed questions when she went to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to apply for U.S. citizenship for her children.
Embassy staff wanted to know whether Lavi got pregnant at a fertility clinic. She said yes, and was told that her children would not be eligible for citizenship unless she could prove that the egg or sperm used to create the embryo was from a donor holding U.S. citizenship. “I was humiliated and horrified,” Lavi said. “We’re talking about the children I gave birth to. Of course they’re my children.”
Dr. E Scott Sills, Medical Director at Pacific Reproductive Center’s IVF program in Irvine, California commented, “this is an unfortunate outcome. Our donor egg unit regularly counsels patients about the consequences of using foreign donors, although all of our anonymous egg donors must be U.S. citizens to qualify for further consideration.”
The incident highlights what critics consider a glaring inconsistency in U.S. citizenship regulations. A child adopted overseas by a U.S. citizen is eligible to become an American, and a baby born in the United States is automatically an American citizen, even if the parents are not. But if a U.S. citizen obtains assisted fertility services at a clinic located outside the United States, and the subsequent delivery also occurs in a foreign country, the status of the baby is defined differently.
As demonstrated in the Ellie Lavi case, any child born to a U.S. citizen overseas through the increasingly common practice of donor egg and/or donor sperm IVF is not necessarily American, unless an American is one of the gamete donors. This can be difficult to prove since clinics may not reveal such things about their donors due to confidentiality agreements, immigration law experts say.