Our Outdated Immigration System

Tori Marlan discovered that “the rules that determine what babies can become citizens seem to be butting up against the modern circumstances under which Americans are having babies.” One example:

In Montreal, no official asked if my daughter came from my own egg because for heterosexual couples a genetic connection is usually presumed. That doesn’t hold true for same-sex couples.

After Laura Fielden, a U.S. citizen who lives in Spain, applied for citizenship for her daughter, an official asked for a hospital report to determine who was the mother. “I’m one of the mothers,” Fielden told the official. But her Spanish wife had been the one to give birth. Early in February, Fielden’s daughter was denied U.S. citizenship because the child didn’t have a genetic or gestational connection to her American parent.

Lisa Lynch, an American who lives in Montreal, also had to account for the circumstances of her daughter’s birth. But Lynch had a different outcome: After receiving an embryo transplant, Lynch’s Israeli wife gave birth to their daughter in Montreal. When Lynch applied for citizenship she was told her child had to be genetically American. “But my child is genetically American!” she told them. As it happened, an American couple had donated leftover embryos to the couple, and Lynch had the records to prove it, including receipts from the California clinic that had shipped the embryo to Montreal. “The consulate was sort of taken aback,” she says. Officials told Lynch they might need DNA proof from her donors; the couple was ready to comply.