A surrogate who agreed to carry a couple’s longed-for baby has backflipped and kept the child, breaking the hearts of a mum and dad who have not seen their little girl for months.
It’s the frightening flip side to surrogacy, a warning to would-be parents that, tragically, there are no guarantees. And to make an incredibly difficult situation even worse, they are paying child support for a child that is not allowed to live with them full-time.
The situation is so complicated that there hasn’t been a resolution for more than seven years and the desperate parents are yet to be able to have their daughter home where she belongs.
Barbara and David pay $459 in child support and are only allowed to spend two weekends a month with their daughter. But despite that court ruling, they haven’t seen their girl for six months.
“I’ve had to watch when that baby came into our life and watch her older sister cry when she had to leave,” says Barbara.
“I’ve watched this emotionally destroy everyone.”
Barbara and David, already parents to three children, thought they had chosen the perfect surrogacy candidate when they met Jamie, a happily married 22-year-old woman in a stable job who said she wasn’t ready for children of her own.
Barbara says Jamie was “eager and like she really wanted to help a family”. The surrogacy money would help the young couple afford to put a deposit on a house.
“She said she wanted to build a future and a life before they settled down,” Barbara tells People.
Jamie and her husband Steven signed a 38-page contract and using Jamie’s egg and David’s sperm, had a procedure that resulted in the happy news that Jamie was pregnant. Jamie was paid a $15,000 surrogacy fee.
But almost immediately Jamie became secretive, distant and “started to act off”, Barbara says.
“Later on, I found out that everything she told me was a lie.”
Jamie stopped talking to Barbara and David by the time she was three months pregnant. When the baby was born on January 18, 2008, Barbara and David weren’t even told.
The baby they had dreamed of, named Kaylee Grace, left hospital with Jamie and in the seven years since her parents have spent $90,000 on legal fees “trying to bring her home”.
A court ruling initially divided custody, but in September 2014 that was lost when Kaylee started kindergarten in Jamie’s school district, People reports.
Barbara says she and David are not giving up hope that Kaylee Grace, now 7, will return to them.
“I spend every day thinking of her. I wonder if she’s okay and how she’s doing,” Barbara says.
Meanwhile, the quest to have a family seems to be getting harder for some couples, prepared to wait more than five years to adopt a child from overseas.