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Entries in Surrogacy (9)

Tuesday
Sep042012

Surrogate Mother, 61, Gives Birth to Her Grandson

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Kristine Casey is not just any grandmother to her grandson, Finnean. She is also his surrogate mother.

Casey, then 61, gave birth to Finnean in February 2011 after her daughter, Sara Connell, struggled with infertility. Connell’s egg and husband Bill’s sperm were used in the in vitro fertilization procedure, making the couple Finnean’s biological parents, and Casey the gestational carrier of their child.

“The idea, we never could have fathomed,” Connell, 36, said Tuesday on ABC's Good Morning America. “I felt so connected with Finn and with my mom and yet it was a completely surreal, really fantastic situation.”

Connell tells the story of their family’s unconventional journey to motherhood in a new book, Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story.

Connell struggled for years with infertility before her mother stepped in as a surrogate. “My husband and I had always wanted children,” Connell said on GMA.

“We were ready to start a family. I came off the birth control pill and I wasn’t having a cycle, so we tried holistic treatments, acupuncture, yoga and then went to a fertility specialist who said, ‘You’re not ovulating, you’re likely going to need help having a child.’"

“We moved onto fertility treatments, IVF, I lost twins at almost the third trimester, late into the pregnancy, which was really hard. Then we got pregnant one more time and had a miscarriage,” she recalled.

Casey, who had given birth to Connell and her two sisters 30 years earlier and gone through menopause 10 years ago, offered to act as the surrogate.

After months of tests and soul searching, they decided to go ahead with in vitro and after the second IVF cycle, Casey became pregnant.

When it comes to surrogate parenting, the Connell’s arrangement is not as uncommon as one might think.  In August, 49-year-old Linda Sirois of Maine gave birth to her grandson Madden when her daughter Angel Herbert, 25, and son-in-law Brian Herbet were unable to conceive.

While age is a limiting factor for the safety of such late-in-life surrogacy, hormonal supplementation and the use of donor eggs make pregnancy possible even in women who have gone through menopause. (Click here to read more on the medical aspects of late-in-life pregnancies).

“The doctors were very clear that the percentages [of complications] did increase with my age being a factor, but still the odds were pretty overwhelming that we would be successful,” Casey said Tuesday on GMA. “I just felt like it was a journey we needed to take.”

Casey, who likened carrying Finnean to babysitting for nine months, said the late-in-life surrogacy was “amazing.”

“It was so amazing to feel that little heart beat and the little movements inside of me,” she said. “To feel, the confidence, for some reason, I felt confident I could do this and we could have this wonderful grandson.”

[Click here to see photos of Casey and Sara through the pregnancy.]

Nine months later, Casey delivered the greatest gift a mother could give -- a healthy, 7-pound boy who has grown from baby to toddler -- and created an infinite bond between a mother and daughter.

“My gratitude really can’t even be described in words,” Connell said.

Connell, a writer and life coach, lives with husband Bill in Chicago, Ill., where they are raising Finn. Casey lives in Alexandria, Va., but the families visit each other often. Although they have not decided when or how they will tell Finn about how he came into the world, Connell says it’s something they celebrate.

“This is really something we want to celebrate in our family,” she said. “It feels like a miracle that we got to really witness. So when he’s old enough to understand those things, we’d love to find a way to share what the experience was like, but it’s also just how he got here and his life is his own now.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul192012

Single Men Listening to Biological Clock and Becoming Fathers

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- Growing numbers of men who have never been married -- gay and straight -- are shattering that old stereotype of the befuddled dad struggling with how to care for a baby.

There are now more than one million single fathers raising children in the U.S., according to 2010 figures from the Williams Institute at UCLA.

The 2010 Census found that in 2.2 million households, fathers raised their children without a mother. That's about one household in 45. And the number of single-father households rose 62 percent in 10 years.

"I always wanted kids and I never imagined my life without having a child," said Steven Harris, the father of 5-year-old Ben. "I figured I'd get married, have a family."

Harris, 57, a New York City lawyer, told ABC News he dated in his 30s and 40s and even got engaged at the age of 50. He later called the wedding off and set his sights on becoming a father.

Because surrogacy contracts were not legal in New York, he went to California, where he used a donor egg from an anonymous woman and hired another woman from Sioux Falls, S.D., to be the surrogate.

He said he met her and her husband twice in California and that he was present for her 10-week sonogram and the 20-week sonogram. The entire process, including forms, lawyers and more, totaled $200,000.

"I got a call at midnight on a Thursday night from the surrogate saying, 'Steve, my water broke. ... You better get out here.' And I jumped on a plane and I was there at noon the next day when he was born, and I took him home on a Sunday," Harris said.

He said there was nothing "not fun" about raising a child. Harris said even changing diapers was fun. And those 3 a.m. feedings? "You know what?" he told ABC News. "It wasn't that bad."

"It's fantastic," Harris said of being a father. "It's enriched my life so much."

Brian Tessier, 46, of Boston, adopted two boys through foster care after researching surrogacy and overseas adoption. He said he heard his "biological clock" ticking after ending a 10-year relationship.

"[I] decided at that point to look inside myself and see what I wanted to do and really what it came down to is that I really wanted to be a dad," he told ABC News. "I think a lot of men do hear that biological clock. ... I just don't think we talk about it as men or admit it."

Tessier started the hotline 411-4-DAD to give adoption and surrogacy advice and information to prospective single fathers. He said the hotline directed men interested in becoming parents to agencies that were welcoming and competent. Tessier said that men he encountered told him some agencies were chilly and questioned their intentions.

"I think that's why a lot of men give up on that dream" of being a father, he said. "They think, 'Oh, I can't,' rather than get the facts -- and that's really what we're trying to do, to make sure that people do have the right information."

Tessier said that the number of callers has tripled since the hotline started.

And when it comes to questions from others -- and even Ben -- about the whereabouts of the mother, Harris in New York says he answers honestly.

"He's been asking for a long time and I started telling him the truth from the beginning," Harris said. "I tell him there are all kinds of families. ... We're a family with you and me with one dad. And for now, that's enough. ... I'd like certain things to be different in my life but they're not. You know, we're very autonomous -- me and Ben -- and I don't feel like there's anything missing in my life."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun082012

Straight, Single Men Turn to Surrogacy for Children

Peter Gordon(BOSTON) -- At a lavish baby shower outside of Boston, there was no pregnant mom in sight. The diaper genie and burp cloths were for a 45-year-old middle school principal named Peter Gordon.

Gordon has been dating and searching for Mrs. Right for more than two decades, but hasn't found a wife. Yet, he badly wanted to start a family.

"I'm still hopeful," he said. "Some people are lucky in love. I haven't found luck yet. It's not for lack of trying."

Steven Harris, a 57-year-old lawyer from New York, found himself in the same predicament. He knew he wanted kids but didn't have someone to have them with and said he felt a "profound sadness" about 15 years ago.

"I really felt like I really was missing something," he said.

So Gordon and Harris, both heterosexual bachelors, made the decision to become dads on their own through surrogacy, using their sperm and a donor egg.

Gordon said he tried adoption before surrogacy but kept getting turned away.

"I called five different agencies and every one of them told me that either I would not be considered or that I would be at the bottom of the list because I was a single father," he said.

Harris said he too was rejected from adoption agencies.

"Who is going to give their kid to a 50-year-old bachelor living in SoHo, you know? I wouldn't," he said.

So both Gordon and Harris turned to surrogacy.

"I didn't want to wake up in five years when I'm over 50 and say, 'if you'd just kind of done this earlier, you might have been able to use the energy and be able to kind of give the time that you can give,'" Harris said.

Stephanie Scott, the executive director of Simple Surrogacy in Dallas, helped set up the arrangement between Gordon and 24-year-old Sara Eaton, the surrogate Gordon ended up choosing. Scott said more and more of her clients are single, heterosexual men.

But when Harris decided to go the surrogacy route, his mother was appalled.

"She said, 'Stevie, this is the worst thing that's ever happened to me," Harris said.

That is, until he introduced her to baby Ben, who was born with the help of in-vitro fertilization and another surrogate. Today, Ben is a 5-year-old spitfire and Harris is a busy dad.

"I get him ready for school, I take him to school, then I go to work and the babysitter picks him up at three, and I come home at six and she leaves, so it's really all me," he said.

Making a family this way is not cheap, especially for Gordon, who discovered he was having twins. Like most men in his situation, he was responsible for Eaton's medical bills.

"I'm looking at probably close to $85,000-$90,000," he said. "I'm 100 percent sure that I'm going to be able to make it work."

Both single dads acknowledge that their kids will have questions about their family situation one day. Harris said Ben has already started to ask him if he has a mother.

"I say 'there are all kinds of families. There are families with two daddies and two mommies and a daddy and a mommy and we're a kind of family with one daddy,' and that's fine for him now," he said.

Both Gordon and Harris said they still have high hopes of one day finding a spouse.

"Dating is a snap," Harris said. "Ben is a chick magnet."

"Definitely want a wife," Gordon said. "I definitely want that family, and a child on each arm, and walking to the park and a stroller with her and, I mean, who wouldn't? I just think for me that would be ideal."

But the wife will have to wait. Gordon's twins, Olivia and Noah, were born six months ago and this single dad could not have been happier.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr132012

Triplets Owe Lives to Super Surrogate Who Birthed 15 Babies

Courtesy Jodi Wegge(STURGEON LAKE, Minn.) -- When Jodi Wegge gave birth to her daughter Lindsay in 1999, the baby was three and a half weeks early and a breech birth.  The placenta erupted and she had an emergency cesarean section, losing so much blood that she died on the table for 32 seconds as her organs shut down.

"The baby was fine, and I had a two percent chance," said Wegge from Sturgeon Lake, Minn, now 47.  She lost her uterus in a hysterectomy, but luckily retained her ovaries.

Today, Wegge's daughter is 16, but she also has 13-year-old biological triplets who were conceived through in vitro fertilization with her husband Dan's sperm and her own eggs.

She owes it all to gestational carrier Meredith Olafson, who at the age of 47 has just "retired" her uterus after giving birth to 15 children, four of them her own.

The Wegge triplets were the first of 11 surrogate children that Olafson delivered over the last 16 years.  And on March 29, she gave birth to her 11th and last surrogate child, a girl.

"I am stopping because of my age and six C-sections," said Olafson, a private nurse from Fargo, N.D., and a grandmother.  "It's kind of a lot, and it's time to say we're done."

The Wegge triplets were the first children born from a gestational carrier in the state.  The families hired a private attorney who eventually helped write the laws of surrogacy in North Dakota.

"I love her," Wegge said of Olafson.  "I call her every year on their birthday at 7 in the morning.  When the phone rings on April 29, she knows it's me and I simply say, 'Thank you.'"

Olafson, who has four children of her own aged 16 to 24, has given birth to two sets of triplets and a set of twins, as well as three singletons.  None of them are her biological children because the parents supplied the embryos.

"We never went into it to make money," said Olafson, who has a sense of humor and the full support of husband Jay.  "Our intention was for people who are unable to have their own children to go through the same torment as we went through with our children."

"It is easier on families, too, knowing they are their kids -- and for my family, knowing they are not related to them," she said.

Olafson is, perhaps, the most prolific surrogate mother in the United States, only outdone by Carole Horlock, a British woman who has given birth to 12 babies for other women and now lives in France.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct272011

Surrogate Mom Stuck with $200,000+ Medical Bill

Comstock/Thinkstock(WINDSOR, Colo.) -- Carrie Mathews of Windsor, Colo., said she became a surrogate because she just wanted to provide a couple with children.

Despite that simple desire, Mathews said she nearly died after giving birth to the twins she carried for Theresa and Rudolf Bakos of Austria, and her family now finds itself entangled in a legal and financial predicament.

According to NBC Colorado’s 9News, Mathews contacted the National Adoption and Surrogacy Center, which introduced her to several families looking for a surrogate.

She chose the Bakoses, an Austrian couple in their 50s, who had been trying to have a child for 20 years.

“I feel like they became my family,” Mathews told 9News. “They adored me and I adored them right away.” Calls made to Mathews at various numbers by ABC News were not returned.

Mathews, who has four children of her own, ages  2, 4, 6 and 8, said all her pregnancies had gone smoothly. She told 9News she “loved being pregnant.”

And there was no indication this pregnancy would turn out otherwise.

Mathews and the Bakoses signed a contract more than 30 pages long, which outlined payment for all possible scenarios during pregnancy. She would get paid $25,000 to carry the child -- $2,000 per month, to be placed in an escrow account.

But Mathews’ pregnancy was anything but smooth. After undergoing in vitro fertilization at a clinic in Cyprus (recommended by the National Adoption and Surrogacy Center), she became pregnant with twins. She told the news channel she was “extremely sick” throughout the pregnancy, experienced severe swelling, developed preeclampsia, followed by HELLP syndrome, which causes low platelets and elevated liver enzymes.

Even after Mathews delivered the twins back home in Colorado via Ceasarean section, she still experienced physical problems. She was rushed into an emergency operation for internal bleeding only hours after giving birth.

“While I was in the OR, I died and had to be resuscitated,” she told 9News. Mathews spent 20 days in the hospital after delivering the children for the Bakoses.

In the meantime, the Bakoses brought their new babies home to Austria, but Hilary Neiman, an attorney for the National Adoption and Surrogacy Center, whose website is no longer functional, told 9News that the couple still owed Mathews more than $14,000. Mathews said Neiman could not reach the couple in Austria.

Mathews now owes more than $217,000 in medical expenses that stem from her pregnancy complications. She and her husband are reportedly still waiting to find out how much their insurance company will cover, and how much they will have to pay out of pocket for children they won’t even raise.

Sherry Smith, program administrator for the Center for Surrogate Parenting, an agency that has functioned for 31 years, said it’s important for both parties to do the proper due diligence before getting involved with a surrogacy agency.

At the Center for Surrogate Parenting, intended parents must enroll in an insurance program so that their new children are sufficiently covered, Smith told ABC News. The surrogates must also have medical insurance that will cover her pregnancy when she herself is the patient.

“We expect intended parents to be honest and forthright to take on this responsibility,” said Smith. “The surrogate is putting her life on the line and delivering their dream.”

Surrogacy is not regulated. There is no licensing board, so “this really allows people to put their shingle up and say, ‘I’m a surrogacy agency,’” said Smith.

“Do your research, talk to other people who have used the agency, ask fertility clinics for recommendations,” continued Smith. “If something doesn’t seem right or there is a short cut, there’s a good chance you’ll be paying for it later on.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep022011

New York Mom of Twins Born Via Surrogate Denied Leave

John Guillemin / Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- A woman who used a surrogate to give birth to her twins is suing her employer in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts for refusing to grant her paid maternity leave.

Kara Krill, a clinical business manager on New York's Long Island, has claimed breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, and negligent misrepresentation against Cubist Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Lexington, Massachussetts.  She seeks an injunction and compensatory and punitive damages for employment law violations.

Krill, who developed a reproductive disability called Asherman's syndrome after she gave birth to her first child in June 2007, and her husband hired a surrogate mother, or gestational carrier, to carry and deliver their second child.  After learning the gestational carrier was pregnant with twins in November 2010, Krill informed her employer that she expected to be on maternity leave when the twins were born in May 2010, according to the suit.

Krill and her husband also obtained a prebirth order that "established the legal and genetic parentage of Drill's twins without having to institute adoption proceedings," according to court documents.

When Krill had her first child in June 2007, she received 13 weeks of paid leave under Cubist's maternity leave policy.

But a Cubist human resources employee informed Krill she would be entitled to adopting parents' leave of five days.  The company provides adopting parents who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave plus up to $4,000 in expenses for the adoption, according to court documents.  The company's paternity leave policy also provides male employees who work 20 hours or more per week five paid days of leave.

In an email to the human resources employee, Krill complained about what she said was discriminatory treatment.

"As we have previously informed you, the children being born are mine and were conceived with my husband.  They are only being carried by [a gestational carrier] as a result of my physical disability... Cubist's treatment of me differently than other employees having babies is not fair and is placing me in an untenable condition," she wrote, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also claims that Krill's direct supervisor subjected Krill to "verbal harassment and other adverse treatment," "frequently" patronizing Krill about her disability.  That employee "told her pointedly on several different occasions that she should not be entitled to any leave from Cubist for the birth of her children, whether paid or unpaid," according to court documents.

When Krill informed her boss she was required to be with her newborn children for a minimum of 12 weeks, her boss told Krill that she could "'put [her] twins in daycare,' so she could come back to work sooner.'"  Her boss also informed Krill she was "changing her sales quota expectations and taking away one of Krill's largest customer accounts and assigning it to another Cubist employee who was not disabled, and not going out on maternity leave."

Francis McLoughlin, director of corporate communications at Cubist, said the company could not comment on ongoing litigation but that it "tries to maintain positive work relations at the company."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Baby-Selling Enterprise Busted, Three Plead Guilty

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A California attorney specializing in reproductive rights used her inside knowledge to run an elaborate baby-selling ring.

Theresa Erickson, 43, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for transmitting fake documents to the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego and falsifying information to the couples whose babies were born through surrogates she recruited.

"This case serves as a reminder to people who are desperate to have a child that you must be cautious," FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth told ABC News.

Erickson's ruse was complex, but she skirted the legal system thanks to her high-profile work.

She has appeared on national television and wrote a book called Assisted Reproduction: The Complete Guide to Having a Baby with the Help of a Third Party.

Her two partners in the scheme, Hilary Neiman, 32, a Maryland attorney, and Carla Chambers, 51, of Las Vegas, both pleaded guilty for their roles in helping Erickson recruit women to act as surrogates. They'd travel to Ukraine, where they were implanted with donated sperm and eggs.

American doctors are required to check for documentation of a surrogacy agreement before implanting an embryo. The standards are lax in Ukraine, so Erickson sent her recruits there for the procedure.

Once the women hit the second trimester, Erickson would put the babies on the market under the false pretense that the original surrogate parents had backed out of the agreement. She even filed fraudulent paperwork in court to back up her story.

Couples were charged between $100,000 and $150,000 for each baby. Surrogates who completed the pregnancy were paid between $38,000 and $40,000.

The FBI became involved after it received complaints from gestational carriers, said Special Agent Foxworth.

Erickson's baby-selling ring placed a dozen babies in homes, where they will remain.

In total, she profited $70,000. It is unclear how much Chambers and Neiman received.

It is unclear whether Erickson has children of her own.

Her attorney, Ezekiel Cortez, had no comment on the case.

Erickson will be sentenced on Oct. 28 and faces up to five years in prison.

Along with a $250,000 federal fine, she was also ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to each of the 12 families.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb152011

Labor of Love: Woman Carries Her Daughter's Baby

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) - A mother's love takes many forms. For Kristine Casey, 61, it meant giving the gift of motherhood to her infertile daughter by carrying and giving birth to her own grandson.

With the help of hormone supplementation, Casey, who had gone through menopause 10 years earlier, became pregnant during her second round of in vitro fertilization, the Chicago Tribune reported.

She carried full term and gave birth via Cesarean section to Finnean, her first grandchild, last week at Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. Although Casey's daughter, Sara Connell, 35, had been unable to carry a pregnancy to term, her egg and her husband Bill's sperm were used in the procedure, making the couple Finnean's biological parents.

"The idea of having a family member being open to doing this for us was so extraordinary for us," Sara Connell told the Tribune.

In the world of surrogate parenting, the Connell's scenario is not as uncommon as you might think. The first case of such an arrangement dates back to 1987 when a South African woman gave birth to her triplet grandchildren. More recently, ABC News' Good Morning America spoke with 56-year-old Jaci Dalenberg of Wooster, Ohio, who gave birth to triplet girls that she carried for daughter Kim Coseno in 2008.

Casey, who is retired, told the Tribune that giving birth to her own three daughters were three of the happiest days in her life and she believed that serving as a surrogate to her daughter was a spiritual calling. She had kidney complications after the birth that were quickly resolved.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan202011

Connecticut Gives Non-Genetic Parents Legal Rights

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- During a two-year legal battle, Anthony and Shawn Raftopol, Americans who live in Holland, worried that only one of the men was the legal parent of their young twin boys.

The gay couple married legally in Massachusetts in 2008.  Their twins, Sebastiann and Lukas, now two years old, were born in Connecticut through in-vitro fertilization with a donor egg and a surrogate mother.

Anthony Raftopol was the biological father and, under family law, had full parental rights.  But when the couple tried to obtain a birth certificate, also naming Shawn, they were told he had no legal claim to the children.

But the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled this week that Shawn Raftopol, 40, has parenting rights, even thought he is not the biological father, because the couple had a valid surrogacy agreement.  The court rejected the state's argument that the co-parent would have to go through a second-parent adoption proceeding in order to be listed on the birth certificates.

The decision will have far-reaching ramifications for other couples -- gay and straight -- who choose to have their children through surrogacy.

After the birth, Connecticut's Department of Public Health refused to allow the names of both fathers to appear on the birth certificate.  The Supreme Court's ruling affirmed a lower court's order confirming their parentage and requiring the state to issue corrected birth certificates, addressing a new and emerging area of law.

Two partners who sign a surrogacy agreement in Connecticut can now have both their names on the birth certificate, even without a genetic link.  Intended parents can get immediate recognition without any other action, even before the birth of the child.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio