Today’s New York Post profiles Jessica Allen, a young mother from Perris, Calif., who served as a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple. Spoiler alert: this surrogacy case is particularly messy and complicated.
Jessica carried and gave birth to twin boys, Mike and Max. Because the delivery was made via C-section, Jessica was not able to see the twins at the time of their birth. Mrs. Liu, the “commissioning” or “intended” mother, later showed Jessica a picture of the twins.
Jessica’s response: “Wow! They look different.”
It turns out that while Mike was the child of Mr. and Mrs. Liu, Max was the child of Jessica and her boyfriend Wardell.
A few days later, Omega [the surrogacy agency] told me that someone from the agency was looking after Max because the Lius wanted nothing to do with him. Omega contacted me to say the Lius expected between $18,000 and $22,000 as compensation.
We’d already spent most of the money we earned from the surrogacy contract, but now we were apparently on the hook for thousands of dollars.
But our first priority was getting back Max. To my disgust, a caseworker from the agency lined up parents to adopt him and “absorb” the money we owed the Lius. Or, if that didn’t work out, the Lius were thinking of putting Max up for adoption, as they were still his legal parents.
I told the agency in no uncertain terms, “We want our son,” but we would still be responsible for the bill if we kept him. It was like Max was a commodity and we were paying to adopt our own flesh and blood. A caseworker from the agency also said we owed her a further $7,000 for expenses she had incurred for the bureaucracy and for looking after our son.
After spending money they didn’t have on a lawyer, and nearly a month of back-and-forth with the surrogacy agency’s lawyers, Jessica says,
I finally met a caseworker from Omega in a Starbucks parking lot in Menifee, Calif., where she handed over our son, whom we’ve renamed Malachi.
Here we have yet another example of the ways in which surrogacy commodifies women, children, and the whole process of childbearing; the ways in which money calls the shots in contract pregnancies; and the ways in which no amount of legislation or regulation can eliminate all of the possible harms of surrogacy.
In other words, here we have yet another reason why we are working to #StopSurrogacyNow.