Children Without a Country?

By: Meika Rouda

I really wanted to write about Father’s Day, to commend the wonderful dads out there but I am obsessed with this story of the single American mom, Ellie Lavi, living in Israel who conceived twins with a donor egg and sperm and now the US won’t recognize them as citizens. Why won’t they recognize them as US citizens? Well because there is no proof the donor eggs or sperm were from US citizens. What? There are so many issues revolving around IVF these days, so many ethical questions, but this one takes the prize for me.

First of all, is it common for people to do  IVF using donor eggs and sperm? Did they ever hear of adoption?- hello, it is the same thing. Yes I understand you don’t carry the child, a mother doesn’t bond with the child while in the womb or go through the joy (and pain) of pregnancy and birth but honestly, for a woman in her 40’s who is single, to put her body through the process of IVF and the risks of a pregnancy is curious to me. Did she really want to be pregnant that badly? Is there research that by being your own surrogate you decrease potential emotional issues associated with adoption like abandonment, primal wound etc.?

And then there is the question of citizenship. If you are an American citizen and you adopt a child from another country that child is granted American citizenship automatically. I agree with this 100%. So why is the Ellie Lavi situation really any different? While there is no biological connection, she is their mother and her name is on their birth certificate. Is this some precedent the US is setting to dissuade American citizens from going abroad for fertility treatments? By the way, fertility treatments are free in Israel. Which I think they should be in our country as well but that is another story.

So good luck Ellie. While I don’t understand your choice to be your own surrogate, I do think your children should be recognized as US citizens.


  1. says

    Is she an American citizen? Because I thought if you birth children anywhere and you are from the USA your kids get this automatically. There must be something not right here or else she is caught up in limbo-land. So sad. I think people have babies for all different reasons and surrogacy is one of many. I think anyone who wants a baby and decides on a method be it surrogacy, sperm donors, egg donors, adoption or any other combination should be allowed to do it and go with the citizenship of the MOM as that seems right to me.

  2. says

    It’s not horribly uncommon to use donor egg and sperm; I’ve even heard of people using egg donor, sperm donor, and gestational surrogate. I can’t understand why the child’s being denied citizenship? Isn’t the mom’s name on the birth certificate? That’s so wrong.

  3. says

    I believe they are Israel citizens as that is where the Mom resides. I think she was trying to cover all bases if she ever leaves there to return to US. She dropped even trying as she is content to and lives in Israel. More to the story I am afraid.

  4. says

    Stipulation: Maya and Sheila cannot become US citizens unless their mother moves them back to the US and they live there six months – but their home is in Tel Aviv

    The above was in an article explaining what she needs to do. She plans to just stay in Tel Aviv so unless she decides to resettle in US they will be without a country other than Israel.

  5. tanya says

    using donor egg/sperm does not make her a surrogate….it just means she needs assistance getting pregnant. and i say this being a single mom to an adopted daughter.

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