Former Chicago resident and U.S. citizen, Ellie Lavi, is fighting to get her twin girls United States citizenship, going up against a law that states the girls must have a biological connection to at least one parent. The twins' biological connections are unclear as they were born by In-Vitro Fertilization, and now this surprisingly is causing issues with their citizenship being granted.
In 2009, Lavi, who was living in Israel, underwent IVF treatment in order to conceive her children. She gave birth to twin girls, Maya and Sheila, and went to the U.S. consulate in Tel Aviv to get them official U.S. citizenship.
Her claim was denied on the basis that the girls have no biological connection to Lavi, who is unable to provide documentation of her girls' biological father's citizenship. "I have been embarrassed, humiliated, ashamed," Lavi told NBC News.
While at the Embassy, Lavi was asked how she conceived the children over a loudspeaker. "It's an outrageous question," she said. "They are my kids; I carried them for nine months, but they can't be American."
Right now the laws have not kept up with the technology, with IVF being at the forefront of law-bending technology. "U.S. policy is not keeping up with the technology. That's essentially what the issue is," Lavi said.
"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," family law attorney Paul Talbert told NBC News.
Lavi has been offered just one option for obtaining U.S. citizenship for her girls: move to the U.S. and live there for at least six months. But for now, Lavi is refusing to give up her home and life in Israel.
"If I'd gone back to the States to give birth, my children would have automatically received American citizenship. But I don't live there. I live here," Lavi told USA Today.
Michele Koven Wolgel, an Israel-based attorney specializing in U.S. immigration law, says that the actions taken by the Embassy constitute "profiling. There is an established process for U.S. parents who want to transfer citizenship to their adopted children, but no such avenue exists for parents whose children, conceived with someone else's eggs or sperm, emerged from their wombs," she told USA Today.
"The law exists for a very good reason: to avoid having people claim that other people's kids are their own for purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship, yet this is one of those unique instances that might require special consideration," said Kristen Williamson, spokeswoman for the Federation of American Immigration Reform.