Surrogate Keeps Baby, But 'Dad' Forced to Pay Child Support

Jeanne Sager
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babyWell, now I've heard it all. The surrogate who was carrying another couple's baby renegged on the deal and kept the baby. And now a British court says they have to pay HER child support. Holy scam, Batman!

It began as a simply sad story -- boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl endure six late-stage miscarriages including four sets of twins as they try to become parents. The couple, known to the press only as Mr. and Mrs. W., finally came to terms with using a surrogate to carry their baby last year. They found a woman willing, and agreed to pay her expenses. Mr. W. provided his sperm, and the woman became what's known as a traditional surrogate.

She provided not only her womb but her egg to make the baby. Which made it easier for the woman to decide she wanted to keep the baby after all -- she had a biological tie unlike a gestational surrogate who carries a baby with no genetic relationship. Honestly? I get it. I don't think I could do surrogacy of any form, but in particular traditional surrogacy seems to difficult for me. I couldn't both have a biological relationship with and give birth to a child then turn him or her over to other people to raise; it's a very personal decision.

And it's happened before. Remember Baby M? The child who, back in 1986, a traditional surrogate named Mary Beth Whitehead decided she couldn't go through with the decision. Eventually courts gave both Whitehead and the baby's father, William Stern, custody. Stern's wife had no legal standing in the baby's life.

In this case, the Ws couldn't bear shared custody -- even though it's still very much Mr. W's genetic child. They decided to sever ties because it was too painful emotionally. It sounds harsh for a guy to give up on his kid, but consider this -- he had very specific plans when he got a woman pregnant, and the woman changed the deal in a very major way.

And now this unnamed woman proves she apparently wasn't done screwing over the Ws. She wants monthly support from the "father" of the child to pay for living expenses. Expenses she never would have had if she'd stuck to the original agreement. He doesn't want to do it at all, but Mr. W. says he will provide for the child's food and clothing -- provided he can do so in the form of vouchers that ensure the money is spent on the child rather than on the woman's own expenses. He says he suspects she just wanted a payday out of all of this, and I'm bound to agree.

It's a sticky wicket, it really is. Because under normal circumstances, I'd be all for a father having to pay child support, whether he's in the picture or not. If he made the baby, he has to support it. It takes two to tango, and there are no excuses.

But in the case of surrogacy, it could not have been any more clear to this woman what was going to happen. She signed on the dotted line, so to speak. What this amounts to sounds an awful lot like blackmail.

What do you think? His sperm, his responsibility? Or should this woman be culpable for refusing to honor the surrogacy agreement?

 

Image via sabianmaggy/Flickr

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