Photo: Ellie Lavi and her twins Maya and Shira
When Chicago native Ellie Lavi gave birth to twins while visiting Israel she was excited about being a mother, but when she attempted to apply for citizenship for her children at the U.S. embassy, some of that excitement vanished.
An American citizen herself, Lavi, who is also an Israeli citizen, assumed that her twin girls would still be American citizens despite having been born in Israel, but when she arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, she learned otherwise.
According to the U.S. State Department, any children born to U.S. citizens via in vitro fertilization (IVF) are not considered citizens unless it can be proven that the egg or sperm used in the procedure was donated by an American citizen.
Embassy officials went as far as asking Lavi if the twins were hers.
She told USA Today, “I was humiliated and horrified. We’re talking about the children I gave birth to. Of course they’re my children.”
Now being told that her girls can only be granted citizenship if she can prove the donor is American, Lavi says she has given up actively persuing the matter and remains in Israel, telling USA Today, “If I’d gone back to the States to give birth, my children would have automatically received American citizenship, but I don’t love there. I live here.”
The U.S. State Department maintains that it has properly interpreted the law, but says it is studying whether or not the Immigration and Nationality Act can be interpreted to allow U.S. citizen parents like Ellie Lavi “to transmit American citizenship to their children born abroad through artificial reproductive technology in a broader range of circumstances.”