Ellie Lavi, an American citizen from Chicago, living in Israel wanted her children to be American as well. She used a donor sperm and egg from an Israel clinic to conceive through in-vitro fertilization.
Ellie Lavi carried her twin daughters, Maya and Shira now 2 ½ years old, full-term but are unable to gain status as U.S. citizens. U.S. State Department is refusing to grant citizenship to her children because she is unable to prove that any of the donors are American citizens.
The U.S. Embassy in Israel is telling Ellie Lavi that the girls have no biological connection to her and she can’t provide documentation of her girls’ biological father’s citizenship. Most fertility clinics do not keep records from donors, and are anonymous.
Children adopted by U.S. citizens or born to foreign citizens in the U.S. are granted status as Americans. Things start to get a little grey when children born to Americans overseas through in-vitro fertilization are denied American citizenship unless a donor can be proved as a U.S. citizen. The laws were created to prevent people from fraudulently attaining status as Americans. The law also helps avoid people claiming that other people’s kids are their own for purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship.
The laws haven’t kept up with the current technology with IVF. Family law attorney Paul Talbert told NBC News, “You can have a child that is a child without a country. They are not granted U.S. citizenship because there is no biological connection, and the laws of that foreign country may say they don’t recognize this child as their citizen, either, and the law really needs to address this.”
Maya and Sheila could become U.S. citizens if they live in the United States for at least six months and completed the necessary steps. Ellie Lavi and her children are currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel. Right now, Ellie Lavi has given up on the citizenship battle and says, “If I’d gone back to the States to give birth, my children would have automatically received American citizenship. But I live here.”