Though she carried two beautiful daughters and gave birth to them nine months later, US citizen Ellie Lavi cannot call her daughters American.
That’s because Ms Lavi, a single mother, turned to in vitro fertilisation to become pregnant while in Israel, giving birth to her girls there.
When she tried to obtain citizenship for her twins at the US consulate in Tel Aviv, she was denied because she could not prove the egg and sperm used to conceive her children were from those of US citizens.
Ms Lavi was asked by an embassy staffer if her daughters, born in 2009, were hers, as USA Today first reported.
Even more humiliating, she said, was that the consulate worker asked her through a loudspeaker in a room teeming with people how she conceived the twins.
Ms Lavi, who is from Chicago, told the Today that she was offended by the question, which she considered an invasion of privacy.
‘I was embarrassed, humiliated, horrified, ashamed,’ she said. ‘It’s an outrageous question. In an interesting loophole, children adopted from other countries are eligible to become US citizens.
The issue lies in a law that says, according to the US State Department, that a child must have a biological link with at least one parent.
Because her twins Maya and Sheila were conceived via in vitro fertilisation, there was no such link between Ms Lavi and her daughters.
Most fertility clinics do not keep records from donors, and are anonymous, thus making it impossible for Ms Lavi to prove the nationality of her daughters’ biological parents.
However, Ms Lavi carried the twins to term and delivered them, and her name is on their birth certificates – she, of course, is listed as their mother.
Ms Lavi told Today: ‘US policy is not keeping up with the technology. That’s essentially what the issue is.’
According to Michele Koven Wogal, an Israel-based attorney who focuses on U.S. immigration law, calls the probing questions ‘profiling,’ saying that the embassies only ask single, older women where their children came from.