One time, I was served multigrain pancakes instead of regular pancakes. That's what an Ohio couple is saying happened to them, except with a human baby. At the heart of this is a child, a complex organism that will grow up with thoughts and feelings and a given level of identity and self-worth. But only enough for a multigrain baby, because, you know, they ordered a regular one.
A couple of weeks ago, the story of a lesbian couple hit the press after their baby, conceived through in vitro fertilization using sperm from a sperm bank, was born mixed race. They'd asked for white sperm, but a clerical error sent sperm from an African-American donor. I realize I'm late comment on it now, but it's honestly taken me that long to unravel this. And even a bit longer to realize that I didn't need to unravel it at all.
The entire story is, as Logan put it after we both read it, a "privilege vortex." It's almost impossible to dissect and understand. It's a story made of layers and layers of baffling opinions, complicated motives, and unreasonable behavior. Then again, why should it be reasonable? Vortexes aren't known for their rationality. I wish I had a chart for you visual learners, but Logan laid out the privilege vortex thusly:
Lesbians (negative privilege points). Enough money for a designer baby (positive privilege points). Black baby (negative privilege points). Time and resources to bring a case against the bank (positive privilege points). Need to move to a multiracial neighborhood with good schools (lol).
Even after I push through the frustrating details, I still have so much anger that the actual medical miracle that is our ability to use our monkey hands to put new, growing life into a person where there wouldn't have been otherwise is being discounted because it's not the right kind of person. What does that mean? How does that kid accept all this when she inevitably runs a quick Google search on herself like everyone with access to Google? It's gonna be tough, that's for sure. Mommy and Mommy didn't want me because it was difficult and inconvenient. They wanted me, but a different me. A white me.
That's fucking tragic.
From the article:
"Though compelled to repress her individuality amongst family members, Payton's differences are irrepressible, and Jennifer does not want Payton to feel stigmatized or unrecognized due simply to the circumstances of her birth," the lawsuit states. "Jennifer's stress and anxiety intensify when she envisions Payton entering an all-white school."
Fun fact: you're stigmatizing her and unrecognizing her humanness right now. The circumstances of her birth are what caused you to bring a lawsuit to punish the sperm bank for the mistake. She's going to equate that as her very birth being a mistake. Did you realize? Second fun fact: she doesn't have to enter an all-white school if you don't want her to. You're a parent, and you can make those choices. Did you know?
What's the Issue, Again?
Despite its social and moral aspects, the lawsuit will progress as one about paying for a specific service and not getting what you paid many, many dollars for. If that's what they want to be upset about, that they had careful stipulations and were spending their money for specific results and the business failed to render services paid for, that's a fairly standard complaint against a business. People have been refunded or sued for damages in cases with much less serious outcomes than this one. But that's not what's at the heart of this case. It can't be when you've got a person's personhood involved. It stops being a transaction as soon as the "transaction" is a life lived. The heart of this grievance isn't that "we paid for X and our wishes were ignored"; instead, it's "this baby, by not being what we asked for, is a problem for us. The very nature of this child is problematic." There's quite a difference between the two. One is business, the other is existential.
But what are they going to do about her lack of penis? If they're so concerned with the diminished returns on investment, why aren't they complaining about how their baby didn't come with all its parts? They're bringing a suit that has to do with how inconvenient and problematic biological facts have an effect on our social reality. They're pointing out how having a mixed race child won't work with their ethnocentric worldview and their racist family members. Well, what about misogyny? Is the environment they're living in much kinder to women as wholly equal beings than it is to people of color? I'm willing to bet it's not a great situation for either. So where's the lawsuit for not getting a boy? If the issue is getting the most convenient child, where's the WASP boy with hair as golden as summer wheat? It's just another aspect that points to what I said above: this isn't about the transaction. If you wanted a child with the one-hundred-percent best opportunity for success in your white, "traditional" community, you'd be disappointed in a girl. But you're okay with a girl as long as she is the correct color for your current social situation. All of which leads me to believe this has more to do with you than her.
I don't say any of this to belittle anyone's pain or complicated situation. I know family makes everything messy, and I know that everyone wants the best possible life for themselves and for their children. Nobody wants to deal with anything uncomfortable or difficult. Nobody. But here's the reality: if you bring a child into a broken world, you had better get your act together if you don't want her to grow into a reflection of that brokenness. You'd better remember that no matter what your concerns were before, they are now overshadowed by the life in your presence. Be bigger than your ignorance, and let love do it's job.