Starting a family is a major landmark in one's life and it is the start of an exciting journey. However, for some, they are unable to due to various reasons and it is here that surrogacy comes into the picture.
Surrogacy is a process wherein a woman bears a child for another person or couple becoming pregnant. There are two main types of surrogacy - Gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In Gestational surrogacy, an egg is removed from the intended mother and fertilized with the father's swimmers, which is then transferred to a surrogate who carries the baby to term.
In traditional surrogacy, a surrogate mother is artificially inseminated either by the intended father or an anonymous donor and carries the baby to term. In addition, there is compensated and uncompensated surrogacy wherein monetary involvement happens.
While there are rules set aside to safeguard the interests of the parties involved in a successful surrogacy, there is no guarantee that things will go as planned. There could be unexpected developments during pregnancy like having twins, fetus with birth defects and so on which could deviate from what is written in the agreement/contract. Or it could be just a change in heart from the surrogate as these 20 incidents point out:
18 Baby M Makes Surrogate History
The earliest recorded instance of breach in surrogacy contract in the U.S was in 'Baby M's case in the mid 80's in New Jersey, a time when surrogacy were not clearly defined, between Mary Beth Whitehead and the Stern's as reported by nytimes.com.
A traditional compensated surrogacy contract was formulated between the mentioned parties because of a medical condition to Mrs. Stern for $ 10,000, which was eventually breached by the surrogate who chose to keep 'Baby M'.
The Sterns sued, naturally, the New Jersey supreme court invalidated the contract, terming it as 'illegal and potentially degrading to women'. Nonetheless, the Stern's had the custody of the child as per the court's instruction.
17 Surrogate Refused To Give Up The Baby
In yet another case of a surrogate mother refusing to give up baby has been brought out by mirror.co.uk in 2014. Here, Leanne Stanford, the surrogate, refused to give up the baby to her biological mum Judith and her new stepdad, Mark Roberts.
This was after mother Judith miscarried a longed-for child and Leanne stepped in agreeing to be surrogate for her mum. It was achieved through artificial insemination using a 'syringe' of swimmers provided by her stepdad.
Things took an unexpected turn during the course of Leanne's pregnancy when she realized that the bond between her and the baby was inseparable. Since this happened within the family and no contractual agreement was in place, it has torn the entire family apart, resulting in a bitter family feud.
16 Twin Complications For Surrogate Mom
Surrogacy has its complications which get added up when there is a twin pregnancy involved. According to The New York Post which reported this story, Jessica Allen, the surrogate would receive $30,000 to carry another woman's child through IVF. Six weeks after she became pregnant, surprisingly, a second baby appeared in her scans.
To her relief, the agency informed her that the' would- be' Chinese couple was thrilled about having twins and that they had agreed to increase the remuneration. The next surprise came after delivery when she discovered that the second baby was, in fact, her own that was confirmed by DNA test, and a series of nasty legal complications followed.
After a lengthy nightmare, this story had a happy ending where Allen was reunited with her biological baby.
15 Surrogate Mother Refuses To End The Pregnancy
Connecticut based surrogate Crystal Kelley outlines her harrowing experiences in her blog, Surrogate Insanity. Her case took an emotional turn when her ultrasound results showed a fetus with birth defects. In spite of a much needed and attractive surrogacy fee, her life was turned upside down as she coped with pleas and even monetary offer from the intended parents to abort.
She also discovered that her state did not have the legal rights over her pregnancy and that took her to Michigan where the birth mother will have parental rights over the baby. Her case became strong when she discovered that the embryos that had been used on her for surrogacy were not that of the intended mother.
As expected, Kelley's baby had a number of medical complications and she will have to spend a long time in the hospital. Because of her tireless efforts, Kelley was able to find wonderful adoptive parents for the child she helped bring into this world.
14 Baby Manji - Indian Surrogate Keeps Japanese Baby
Baby Manji was born to a surrogate mother through Invitro fertilization using the sperm of a Japanese father and an unknown donor. This was in 2008, in the district of Anand in the Indian state of Gujarat.
However, the intended parents divorced when the surrogate was pregnant with Manji. Within one month of her birth, Baby Manji had stirred up a legal battle, when an NGO raised the issue of nationality of the child and demanded stronger and stricter laws which will secure the future of the children born through surrogacy, as reported in www.timesofindia.com. Finally after a three month long battle, the court ruled in favour of the Japanese family and Manji's biological grandmother was given the custody of the child.
13 Surrogate Keeps Twins That Are Biologically Not Hers
Surrogacy dreams were cut short for a couple after the surrogate they used changed her mind midway through the pregnancy and choose to keep the twins even though they weren't biologically hers. The deal was struck at $12000, the surrogate got pregnant through IVF, things were smooth till the scans at eight weeks showed that she was carrying twins.
This development was unexpected for the would-be parents who wanted to have one terminated which the surrogate disagreed. Soon, the payments stopped, the relationship became strained and the exchanges were only through the agency.
With a renewed determination, the surrogate delivered the twins and being the birth mother, she can file for custody of the child which will find favour in some states. The distraught couple according to rebelcircus.com has since tried all possible ways to have their children back and has managed to have visitation rights as of now.
12 7 Years Later
People.com points out to the heart-wrenching case of Barbara and David (not their real names) whose love for children was so great that even after having three children of their own, they wanted one more through surrogacy.
Placing extremely high hopes and expectations for the would-be surrogate, they managed to find 22-year-old Jamie after an elaborate and extensive search. Having agreed on the fee and the contract laid down, Jamie became pregnant using David's stuff and Jamie's egg. The initial pregnancy and its preparations were more than expected, but fell apart in 12 weeks when Jamie informed that she and her husband had separated.
In spite of this setback, Barbara and David continued with all their support and strangely it came to a point where Jamie started avoiding them completely, so much so that even the delivery was not informed to them. The baby girl who has been named Kaylee Grace is seven now, Barbara and David have been fighting a legal battle trying to bring her home.
11 Surrogate Protects All
Surrogacy stories resulting in negative outcome is on the rise and critics have blasted surrogacy as a violation of human rights according to thedailybeast.com. The case of two Californian surrogates Melissa Cook, 47 and Brittneyrose Torres, 26, both pregnant with triplets are being pressured to reduce the number of fetuses they carry to term is an example.
Both women had signed clear contracts, remuneration plus bonus for each additional baby and part of their agreement had mentioned of a selective reduction clause intended for the would be parents in case of multiple pregnancies. But when it came to honor that stipulation, both the surrogates stepped back claiming that they are bonded to the babies.
As expected, they stopped receiving payments and a legal battle is on. Another example is the 2010 Tennessee case between the Italian couple and the surrogate who became pregnant through artificial insemination with the intended father's sperm. She gave birth to a baby but refused to relinquish the child after breastfeeding led to bonding. Since she was the biological mother, in this case, the courts found her parental rights could not be terminated and the case was returned to the juvenile court.
10 Another Twin Dilemma
The sad fact is that surrogacies which end up badly are always on the rise and the governing laws are often lagging. Thedailybeast.com reports in 2001, a Berkeley, California couple decided they wanted nothing to do with the pregnancy they had contracted with a British surrogate after she refused to abort one of the twins she was carrying.
A legal battle led the couple to offer a transfer of the $19,000 pregnancy contract to another unnamed family but ultimately the case ended in a settlement. Expectedly, the couple’s attorney, Diane Michelsen, refused to comment to a request for an update, citing a gag order on the case.
9 Surrogate Sued For $80000
Out of 20000 US surrogacy births in the year 2000, about a dozen cases resulted in a couple refusing the baby or a surrogate mother refusing to give up a child. Articles.latimes.com shows the unusual case of Helen Beasley, a surrogate mother who became pregnant with twins has sued a San Francisco couple charging that they rejected both the twins after failing to give correct information on the pregnancy and refusing to abort one of the fetuses.
Beasley who was 24 weeks pregnant is on the lookout for another couple who was willing to accept both the babies since she cannot afford to raise them. The couple who are both attorneys has asked Beasley for $80000 as expenses for breach of contract.
8 Strict Visitation Rights
An astonishing case highlighting the perils of surrogacy was brought to light in December 2006 edition of Mail Online between an Asian couple and surrogate mother Margaret, 42 (not her real name) to gain custody of their own twins after Margaret refused to hand them over when they were born.
The twins were created from the embryos of the man's sperm and his wife's eggs which were then impregnated on to the surrogate. The early stages of the pregnancy went smoothly and cracks started appearing when it was discovered that she was carrying twins which the couple did not want and they wanted to terminate one twin.
She became more alarmed when the Asian woman did not want her extended family to know about the surrogate. All this was too much for Margaret to handle who took the extreme decision to keep the twins. After a bitter legal battle, the court gave the couple visitation rights to the couple on weekends.
7 Surrogate Mom Chooses To Keep Triplets
November 2015 edition of New York post brought out one more incident when there was a breach of contract in surrogacy. This also happened at a time when commercial surrogacy was banned and lawmakers were thinking of lifting the ban. The surrogate mother Melissa Cook, 47 came to an agreement with a man from Georgia to have his child by IVF using his stuff and a donor's egg.
As per the contract, Cook is entitled to her $33000 pregnancy fee for one baby plus an additional $6000 for each additional child. They learned about the triplets when the embryos were in the 8th or 9th week and almost immediately the Georgian man demanded that Cook abort one of the fetuses which were outrightly rejected.
California law states that aside from life-threatening exceptions, fetuses can't be aborted once they become viable. The 17 week pregnant Cook was under a lot of pressure and that she was considering wavering on her decision to keep all the three babies.
6 Baby Marissa Belongs To Her Birth Mother
Articles.latimes.com highlights the case of baby Marissa - In 1989, in Orange County, California, a surrogacy contract was laid down between Robert Moschetta, his then wife Cynthia and Elvira Jordan. This was a traditional compensated surrogacy where $ 10,000 would be paid to Jordan for bearing a child from Moschetta's stuff and Jordan's egg.
The agreement was that Moschetta would obtain sole custody of the child and also help Cynthia adopt the baby. Just a day before the delivery, Jordan comes to know that Moschetta asked Cynthia for a divorce and this amounted to a breach in agreement. However, she agreed to let the child go with the couple on assurance from Moschetta that they would stay together.
Seven months later, Moschetta took baby Marissa with him after separation from Cynthia and at this point all the three parties sought custodial rights. While Cynthia dropped her claim later, Moschetta asserted that Cynthia was the child's legal mother and that Jordan had no parental status. Eventually, the court awarded joint custody of baby Marissa to both Jordan and Moschetta and that they will have to take care of the baby alternatively as mutually agreed.
5 Birth Mother Or Surrogate Mother?
In an extremely rare case that was reported in the Daily Mail on 15 February 2011, an anonymous surrogate mother revealed that she refused to hand over the child to the would-be parents. There was no formal contract between the parties here even though her service was charged.
According to the Daily Mail, "the surrogate, who can only be named as Miss N to protect the identity of the baby, told how she had changed her mind because of a startling series of confessions by the wife. She said the woman, identified as Mrs W, told her her husband was controlling...."
Seven days after delivery, the couple launched legal proceedings against the surrogate and a bitter court case followed. In a surprising and landmark judgment, the court ruled that the surrogate mother had the legal rights to keep the baby as of now and that a review hearing would take place later to decide on the level of contact with the child's biological father.
4 Thai Surrogate Keeps Baby With Down Syndrome
Commercial surrogacy has largely been unregulated in Thailand because of which this was a popular destination for people seeking surrogate mothers until this incident happened. A Thai woman Pattaramon Janbua, 21, had been hired as a surrogate mother by David Farnell and Wendy Li, an Australian couple who could not have a baby.
Seven months into the pregnancy, tests showed that Janbua was carrying twins and that one of the twins, a boy, had Down's syndrome. When the Australian couple requested that she abort this baby and would keep only the twin sister, Janbua refused the offer citing her Buddhist beliefs and opted to raise the boy on her own. After delivery, the couple returned to Australia, taking only the healthy girl with them. Janbua was struggling to raise the sick child and in a surprising turn of events, the story was broken to the media through which a substantial amount was raised.
3 Surrogate Takes Back Twins
After dreaming and trying hard to have children turned futile, Scott and Amy Kehoe decided to opt for a surrogate mother and that's where they met Shelly Baker. Faithap.com reports that she became pregnant with an anonymous donors sperm and egg and the couple were thrilled when Shelly gave birth to twins.
Baby Ethan and Bridget were undoubtedly miraculous babies. During the court proceedings, Shelly learned that Amy had a history of mental illness which made her uncomfortable, nevertheless, the babies were handed over to the couple.
Struggling to come to terms with what she learned and letting the babies go with such a person, Kelly went to court a month later, claiming custody of the children by being their birth mother. Since Scott and Amy weren't the biological parents, they could only watch helplessly as the babies were taken away.
2 Have To Follow A Process
A call from the surrogate's attorney shook the world around Tom Lamitina and his wife. The surrogate mother Stephanie Eckerd, had delivered a baby girl Emma Grace, conceived out of her egg and Tom Lamitina's swimmer
It was a traditional surrogacy and Florida Laws allowed Eckerd to change her mind a keep the baby. And this is exactly what she did. She refused to hand over the baby and got her attorney to make the call to the Lamitinas.
According to Creating Families.com unfortunately for them, they did not go through the proper legal process of screening or counseling before choosing the surrogate and now after waiting hopefully throughout the pregnancy, they were left without a child.
1 In The UK
Mirror.co.uk reported that in a unique decision, a top family judge in the United Kingdom, ruled that the baby should live with his birth mother, because she was better equipped to give boy a good home.
One of the gay couple was the biological father and the surrogate mother was not genetically related to the child. Under English law, the mother is the boy's legal parent and there could be no question of changing that, the Judge said. The mother said she felt "used" by the couple and that their treatment of her during her pregnancy was unsympathetic, demeaning and demanding. But the couple insisted they had behaved impeccably towards her.
It was only under cross-examination in court that they began to acknowledge that their conduct towards the mother was not beyond criticism. The Judge ruled that the boy would live with his birth mother and could have contact with the gay couple only once in eight weeks as he grows. The boy's birth certificate will also be changed so that it has the biological father's surname.