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Iowa Law Review



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family law; scholarship; kinship; cramblett v. midwest sperm banks, llc


This Article addresses the need for family law scholarship that better theorizes and grapples with how race informs American life in the 21st Century. Family law scholars have been instrumental in documenting and advocating for recognition of the “new kinship”—familial relationships and affective ties forged outside of marriage and amidst dramatic demographic shifts. In doing so, though, they have largely ignored race, focusing instead on matters such as gender or class. The assumption is that kinship is raceneutral. But, in fact, kinship has a color. Part II explores this reality by analyzing Cramblett v. Midwest Sperm Banks, LLC, a case involving a lesbian mother who filed a wrongful birth suit when the insemination process she underwent resulted not in the white baby desired, but a child who is partially black. Part III explains how the colorblind approach that informs much of family law scholarship undermines the ability of scholars in this area both to interrogate cases like Cramblett and to offer meaningful solutions to the problems that families confront. Part IV advocates for a new approach to issues of family and race, including whiteness. Mapping a research agenda and alternative vision for family law scholarship, this article urges greater attention to the ways in which race informs the functioning of all families and intersects with issues like sexual orientation and class. This article also makes the case that family law scholars can advance the national debate about race and inequality in the United States by offering insights into the ways in which family law systems and policies shape notions of race and structure inequality across a range of areas.

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