The Right to Choose?

Crystal Kelley, 29, was struggling financially and looking for a way out of her situation. Knowing the pain of being unable to bring a child to term (she suffered from multiple miscarriages before giving birth to her own 2 children) decided to pursue surrogacy as an option. She liked the idea of being able to help another couple bring a child into the world. After searching, she was paired up with a couple that had three children and were trying for a third.

The couple agreed to pay Kelly a reported amount of $2,222 a month for her surrogacy services. At the time that they decided to enter into an agreement with Ms. Kelley they already had an embryo from a previous IVF treatment. This embryo was implanted inside Ms. Kelley in October and pregnancy was confirmed 10 days later.

Everything was going along fine until a February ultrasound revealed fetal abnormalities. Doctors believed that the child would be born with a cleft palate, a brain cyst, as well as serious congenital defects. In addition, they were unable to locate the baby’s spleen or stomach. Given the range of defects, they informed Kelley and the intended parents that the baby had only a 25% chance of living a normal life.

The intended parents, having given birth to three premature children (two of whom have ongoing medical conditions) felt strongly that the most humane option was to terminate the pregnancy rather than allowing the child to be born and suffer.

However, Ms. Kelley, who is reported to be very religious and against abortion, refused to go through with the procedure. Despite the fact that her contract included an abortion clause, which required for her to terminate the pregnancy in the case of severe fetus abnormality, Ms. Kelley insisted that it was not her right to “play God” with the baby’s life.

At this point, the intended parents offered to pay Ms. Kelley $10,000 to terminate the pregnancy before the 24-week legal limit for a termination passed and there was nothing more that could be done. Ms. Kelley countered, asking for them to increase the offer to $15,000 in what she describes as “a moment of weakness”.

The attorney’ for the intended parent informed her of their intent to sue her for the amount they had already paid her ($8,000 plus hospital fees) if she did not terminate the pregnancy. The parents the changed their minds, saying that if she gave birth to the child, they would exercise the legal custody over the child and give it up for adoption in their state of Connecticut.

At this point, Ms. Kelley decided to relocate to Michigan, where legal guardianship was awarded to the birth mother rather than the genetic parents. Meanwhile, the legal battles continued as the intended parents fought for custody. It was revealed, however, that the intended mother was not the genetic mother of the child, since they had used an egg donor. After the child was born, it was agreed that the father would give up his parental rights as long as he was able to remain in contact with the child’s adoptive parents – a couple who specifically wanted to adopt a special needs child.

Unfortunately, the baby girl was born with medical issues that were far more serious than the ultrasounds indicated. She has a defect called holoprosencephaly in which the brain does not have distinct hemispheres as well as a defect called heterotaxy in which several of her internal organs are in the wrong place. In addition to these conditions, she also suffers from hear and ear deformities, a cleft lip and cleft palate, and a myriad of heart defects. She has already had several serious surgeries and is slated to undergo even more. It is reported that if she does survive, there is a 50% chance that she won’t be able to walk or talk.

Given the whole story, what would you have done in this situation if you were Ms. Kelley? The intended parents? Please comment below.

My Infertility Answer was Weight Loss

…from a reader

I never really thought that getting pregnant would be a problem. I joked with my mom that we came from a family of women that got pregnant by men looking at us. Not knowing any better, I wasn’t even concerned when my period stopped.

My husband was very forth coming about the fact he wanted children. I wanted children as well but I wasn’t in any type of hurry to become a mother. It wasn’t until after we got married that we got serious about our plans for the future. For better or worse, my husband didn’t quite understand that the fact I wasn’t having a period indicated that there was something wrong.

My husband tried to laugh the situation off saying that he thought it was funny that I wouldn’t have married someone that didn’t want to have kids and now I might not be able to. My husband’s words hurt me but I knew that in this day and age there were a lot of options for women that had difficulty conceiving.

I researched my options to better arm myself with more information for my doctor’s visit. It took a few weeks for me to be seen but eventually I made it in to my doctor’s office to discuss my issues. My doctor discussed my health concerns with me and determined that she felt I had weight induced polycystic ovarian syndrome. She assured me that if I just lost some weight that my body rhythms would return to normal and I’d be able to conceive. However, she advised me that if she was wrong she would be interested in trying some medication to see if she could force my body into ovulation.

Losing weight may seem like an easy task for most, but I have always struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve been run through vigorous testing with no indication about why I didn’t lose weight. Compared to my friends, I ate well and worked out; but my weight remained the same without budging.

I knew that if I wanted to have a child than I would have to get serious about my weight. I began strictly restricting my caloric intake and signed up for a gym membership. My husband, ever supportive, joined me so that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I soon found that working out for 2-3 hours a day, combined with walking on my breaks and keeping myself on 1,200 calories a day, I began to lose weight. Slowly I shed the pounds. I even joined competitive weight loss activities at my place of employment.

Eventually, my body rhythms returned and I was ovulating on a regular schedule. My concerns were not completely alleviated and I worried that there may be further underlying issues. However, my husband and I decided to give it a try and started trying to conceive.

Despite the fact I knew that it took the average, “healthy” couple a year to conceive I worried each month I didn’t get pregnant. I didn’t have to worry long though, after only 3 months of trying I found out that I was pregnant. And though my family has a history of miscarriages as well, my pregnancy went off without a hitch and I was blessed with an amazing little girl. I’m just hoping that it’s a little easier the second time around.

Why is surrogacy so expensive?

We’re looking into surrogacy as an option for our family as we have had 4 miscarriages in the last 3 years. But we running into a wall with the sheer cost of surrogacy. Why is it so expensive? Are there any alternatives to paying all these fees?

Reply by Rayven:
Surrogacy is so expensive because of all the “middle men” and the various parts that make up surrogacy. Each entity wants their piece of pie.

For a typical gestational surrogacy, you have the following expenses:

–Surrogate’s fee
–Clinic fees (both egg retrieval and embryo transfer)
–Surrogate’s lawyer
–(possibly) egg donor fees
–(possibly) health insurance for surrogate
–Multiple miscellaneous pregnancy related expenses

The costs add up, fast. How do you trim those costs?

1. Find a surrogate on your own…no agency fees.
2. Find a surrogate with health insurance….no health insurance fees.
3. Find a surrogate with low fees…yes, they do exist!
4. Consider doing traditional surrogacy if you need an egg donor or if the costs are just too much for gestational surrogacy.

Fees involved in traditional surrogacy, matched independently:
-Surrogate’s fee ($15,000-25,000 on average)
-Lawyers’ fees (varies)
-Clinic/Meds (if you do home inseminations, this can be quite low)
-Miscellaneous pregnancy related expenses (if the surrogate has health insurance, these can be low as well)

For gestational surrogacy, you have to add in quite a bit for the clinic fees and medications, which can add tens of thousands to your total. And keep in mind, that if you have a failed transfer, you will have to do this part all over again.

Add in the cost of an agency…..

Surrogacy is not cheap. But, I will say that as the popularity grows, so will more affordable options. Not inexpensive options, but more competitive.

Nothing Traditional About Traditional Surrogacy

Do you have a fear about exactly what it takes for a traditional surrogate to become pregnant? Don’t worry, it has absolutely nothing to do with swapping partners.

There might be some confusion amongst people unfamiliar with surrogacy regarding exactly how it works. Some people may assume that the intended father must physically impregnate the surrogate mother. Well, let me tell you – that is not the case. I have been a surrogate mother three times and my husband and I have had to field many questions about it. We have even been asked straight out if my husband had to “share me” with another man.

Although the question strikes me as amusing, I realize that it is probably a common misconception, especially for those who do not follow the current trends in science and medicine. I have, therefore, decided to take some time to disabuse people of some of the rumors that are floating out there about surrogacy.

To begin with, there are two forms of surrogacy – traditional and gestational. I have gone the gestational route for each of mine. Gestational surrogacy is one in which the surrogate has no biological link whatsoever to the child that they are carrying.

Essentially, the surrogate becomes pregnant via an IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment. This is a medical procedure through which eggs are retrieved from the mother’s (or a donor’s) ovaries and fertilized with sperm from the intended father in a petri dish. The embryo is then implanted into the womb of the surrogate. If a pregnancy is achieved, the surrogate carries the child until term and, upon birth, it is give to its intended parents. The surrogate has no legal claims on the child since they share no biological makeup.

On the other hand, with a traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is actually the biological mother of the child she is carrying. This may sound as though there must have been something risque going on, but that is not the case.

The intended father goes to a clinic to make a sperm deposit. This is then placed in the surrogate’s uterus or cervix during her ovulation. If pregnancy is achieved, the surrogate would sign over her parental rights to the intended parents. In fact, this process is viewed much like an adoption.

Let me clarify that there is no sexual contact whatsoever between the surrogate and anyone else in the partnership. In fact, the surrogate can be clear across the country from the intended parents.

But I can definitely understand why people would find this confusing. Maybe I should think before I speak the next time I feel the need to inform my friends and family that I am leaving my husband at home with the kids to go get pregnant in Vegas (where my fertility clinic is located).

I have never been pregnant. Could I still be an Surrogate?

by Lydia

I have always wanted to be a Surrogate. I have never been pregnant before. Would someone still consider me as an Surrogate? IS there a way to become a Surrogate without the use of an organization?

Reply by Rayven
While it is very noble of you to consider becoming a surrogate mother, if you have never successfully given birth to a child before, you are not eligible to become a surrogate mother at this time.

This is for a number of reasons:

1. No Proven Fertility
Surrogacy is very expensive. Without demonstrating that you, yourself are fertile and capable of carrying a child, your intended parents would be taking a huge risk.

2. Unknown Feelings
Since you have never been pregnant, it is unknown how likely you will be to develop depression after the baby is born, and with no children of your own to come home to, you might experience unusually high levels of sadness when you give back the child.

3. Risks of Surrogacy
Surrogacy is risky. Anything can happen. It does happen that during a surrogate pregnancy a woman loses her ability to carry any further children. While this is sad for a woman whose family is already complete, it is devastating to one who plans on having more children.

Though it is wonderful for you to be thinking of such a generous gift now, you need to wait until you have completed your own family first.

Even with an independent surrogacy match (not going through an agency) you may find a couple to work with you, but their clinic would reject you. Wait. There will always (unfortunately) be more intended parents to help later.