Kitchen utensils and pregnancy - Who knew they go together?

As I write this article, I am less than a month away from having my second daughter, so when I was reading the news the other day, a blurb about an unusual pregnancy and court ruling really caught my eye.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to be in a committed relationship, get pregnant the “old fashioned way,” and go about their lives without any baby momma/baby daddy drama. Lots of single women have children, and most decide to go the fertility clinic and sperm donor route. However, that takes a lot of money and time, which are two things not everyone can afford. The path less chosen is apparently what seemed best to Virginia resident Joyce Bruce.

In 2010, Joyce and her then-friend Robert Boardwine agreed for him to provide her with “the necessary item” to become pregnant. Joyce took said item and proceeded to use an actual turkey baster (not kidding, and I doubt anyone will come to her house for Thanksgiving dinner anymore) to inseminate herself. This unconventional method was not without effort, as the two had to try multiple times before succeeding in 2010. Joyce even went to a fertility doctor a couple of times in between and that failed as well. As luck would have it, the turkey baster attempts finally worked.

Robert claims he thought he could see the baby whenever he wanted, and Joyce contended that he could visit, but not any more often than a friend, and he certainly wouldn’t be considered a parent. Their friendship broke down, and Robert decided to let it play out in the courtroom.

Joyce’s argument was that Robert was nothing more than a sperm donor, who should have no rights to the child. However, Robert was able to hang his hat on Virginia’s assisted conception statute, and successfully convinced the court that a plain old turkey baster is not “reproductive technology.” He was then awarded joint legal custody and parenting time with the baby boy.  Joyce appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals but lost there as well. It is unknown if she will appeal the matter further.

The lesson to be learned from this case:  make sure you check the law before taking unconventional methods of reproduction into your own hands.


Marie Matyjaszek is a family law attorney whose blog site is: She can be reached by e-mailing her at