By AYA de LEON
All parents have hopes for their children. We have concerns about the world we’re bringing them into, but somehow, in an infinite number of circumstances, we become parents. Some of us use technology on the road to our parenting. This creates a complex layer of medical and commercial issues in our experience. Recently, a woman in Ohio got the wrong sperm from a bank in Chicago.
She and her female partner are white. They mistakenly got sperm from a black donor, and found out when she was several months pregnant. Unexpectedly, they now have a multi-racial daughter. In her commercial relationship with that company, she has a clear right to sue for damages under the law. In spite of her lawsuit, the mom has been explicit about how much she loves her daughter and that she would not change her.
However, for people of color, particularly Black parents, it is painful and difficult to witness the journey of parenting brown children posited as a legal liability and a quantifiable set of damages.
Here is the statement I, as a mother of color, wish she had given:
“I had no idea how hard it is to face racism and to worry every day about how it will affect my family. I am totally unprepared for this, but I honor the work of all the mothers of black children that have gone before me.
When I entered into a contract with the sperm bank, I thought I was merely selecting the donor that would allow me and my partner to have a white family. But now I see that having children is a greater journey into the unknown than I had anticipated. To be clear, I am suing the sperm bank for breach of their contract to me, and failing to fulfill their end of our agreement. But I commit to using the financial resources to do everything that will be necessary to get our family up the steep learning curve for us that will build our capacity to honor, support, raise and protect this girl child of African heritage. I will learn what I need to learn, change what I need to change, braid what I need to braid, move where I need to move, build community with whom I need to build, and confront what and whom I need to confront, even in my own family. I can see that the real problem here is racism. I wish we all were born into a world where race wouldn’t be such a major factor in determining the outcomes of our lives, where white people weren’t so deeply ignorant about and hateful toward people of color, and where the incredible joy I have in connecting with my daughter wouldn’t be tempered with my fears and concerns for her well-being and safety, fears that black parents have known since first being brought to this country against their will.
Whatever the outcome of my lawsuit, I have made a lifetime commitment to my daughter. We belong together and nothing will ever separate us. I have learned that parenting is about unexpected learning and significant sacrifices. If I have to give up some of my white privilege to spend the rest of my life in close connection with this wonderful young human being, then it is a small price to pay. The black community may not welcome me with open arms, but I understand that centuries of racism have made relationships between white people and people of color difficult. I’ll never stop learning and trying on my daughter’s behalf. And ultimately, my own humanity will be enriched by this experience, as well.
For many years, conservatives have tried to drive a wedge between LGBTQ communities and communities of color, as if the two categories are mutually exclusive, as if there aren’t queer people of color. But we commit that our family will not be used in this way. If anything, the move to a more open and accepting community for my daughter will mean a more open and accepting community for us as a same sex-couple. While I will miss our current friends and family, we look forward to building community that reflects our family and our love and partnership.
A victory in this lawsuit will not only be a personal victory for me, but I commit to use some of the funds to support organizations that work with families that include children of color with white parents, to uproot the effects of racism in those families. The heroes journey always begins with the refusal of the call. I did not expect, choose, or want this adventure, but I am willing to grow into this role, to be a hero for my beloved brown daughter.”
Aya de Leon is Director of Poetry for the People, teaching creative writing in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley. Her work has appeared in MyBrownBaby, xojane, Bitch Magazine, Writers Digest, Mutha Magazine, Movement Strategy Center, Essence, the Feminist Wire, The Good Men Project, Adios Barbie, KQED Pop, and HuffPostLive. She is currently completing a sexy feminist heist novel, as well as blogging and tweeting about culture, gender, and race at @AyadeLeon and ayadeleon.
wordpress.com. Her self-published children’s book Puffy: People Whose Hair Defies Gravity, which can be purchased at createspace.
This piece was reprinted with permission from Mutha Magazine.
Photo credit: the Today show.