Chicago native Ellie Lavi's attempts to obtain citizenship for her twin daughters has gotten caught on the snaggle-tooth of America's bureaucracy, with the U.S. State Department refusing to grant the children citizenship because Lavi, who used donor sperm and egg from an Israeli clinic, can't prove that either of the donors are American citizens. Lavi told NBC.com that she has been "embarrassed, humiliated, horrified, ashamed" by an ardurous bureacratic struggle that included sitting in the lobby of Israel's U.S. Embassy office while she was asked over a loudspeaker how she conceived her children. You guard those borders, America.
Lavi, a single mother now in her 40s, has been confounded by what she characterizes as an outdated U.S. citizenship policy, which denies citizenship to in-vitro children born to American parents overseas unless the donors are documented U.S. citizens. Though the law was created to prevent people from fraudulently obtaining U.S. citizenship (thus making it really special, like precious stones or designer handbags), Lavi insists that, since her daughters Maya and Shira set up shop in her uterus for nine months, they're pretty much her biological children. "They are my kids, I carried them for nine months, but they can't be American,'' Lavi said. "U.S. policy is not keeping up with the technology. That's essentially what the issue is."
If Lavi really wanted to get that golden stamp of U.S. citizenship approval for her daughters, she does have the option of moving to America (she currently lives in Israel), staying for a minimum of six months, and filling out reams of paperwork. But who the hell wants to do all that? Family attorney Paul Talbert told NBC that with in-vitro fertilization, it's essentially possible for children to be born without a country, a phenomenon that would make the heads of everyone in nationalistic pre-war Europe explode. A peculiar set of circumstances for Americans living abroad in Israel has, moreover, made Lavi's dilemma more significant. There are currently 200,000 U.S. citizens living in Israel, many of whom have dual citizenship. Fertility treatments are free in Israel, which means that they're used more frequently, and though many U.S. parents return home to give birth to their children, there are those who lie to officials at the U.S. Embassy in an effort to sidestep the great and powerful Rube Goldberg machine that is American bureaucracy.