A surrogate for a couple who wanted to have another baby was offered $10,00 to abort their baby. An ultrasound was performed at five months revealing the baby has numerous health issues including a “cleft lip and palate.”
Crystal Kelley, a surrogate mother for a couple in Connecticut. From conception through delivery, Kelley would have received $22,000 from the couple.
Everything changed when Kelley had a routine ultrasound at five months pregnant. The ultrasound tech had a hard time seeing the baby’s heart.
Kelley was asked to return in a week so the baby would be further developed. The second ultrasound turned out like the first one and Crystal Kelley was instructed to go to Hartford Hospital as they had a higher-level ultrasound.
Kelley heard from the mother on her way home from the ultrasound. Kelley repeated what the mother said, “She [the mother] kept saying, ‘There’s something wrong with the baby. There’s something wrong with the baby. What are we going to do?’”
Kelley stated that the mother was frantic and panicking. Within minutes of the mother’s phone call, Kelley’s midwife called.
The midlife was calling her to tell her about the baby’s health issues. She informed Crystal that the baby had a “cleft lip and palate, a cyst in her brain and serious heart defects. They also couldn’t see a stomach or a spleen.”
At the ultrasound at Hartford Hospital, the parents of the baby were standing at Kelley’s head. Doctors were able to confirm the health issues with the hospital’s ultrasound. The doctor told the three of them that the baby would likely survive the pregnancy.
The doctor also revealed that the baby would need several risky surgeries and would have very little change of having a normal life. The parents decided that they wanted the baby aborted.
Dr. Elisa Gianferrari, a maternal fetal medicine specialist and Leslie Ciarleglio, a genetic counselor sent Crystal Kelley’s midwife a letter. The letter explained the parent’s decision and what went on between the parents and Crystal Kelley.
They wrote, “Given the ultrasound findings, [the parents feel that the interventions required to manage the baby’s medical problems are overwhelming for an infant, and that it is a more humane option to consider pregnancy termination.”
Crystal Kelley completely disagreed with the parents. In the letter to the midwife, the two ladies wrote that, “Ms. Kelley feels that all efforts should be made to ‘give the baby a chance’ and seems adamantly opposed to termination.”
Gianferrari and Ciarleglio wrote about how the parents tried very hard to get Kelley to change her mind. They wrote, the parents “explained their feelings in detail to Ms. Kelley in hopes of coming to an agreement.”
“The parents feel strongly that they pursued surrogacy in order to minimize the risk of pain and suffering for their baby. The parents and Kelley met in Ciarleglio’s office in an attempt to reach an agreement, however, they were not successful with Kelley continuing to refuse to have an abortion.
The mother later contacted the surrogacy agency, Surrogacy International, in order to get them to intervene with Kelley and possibly change their minds. Rita Kron at Surrogacy International sent Crystal Kelley an email updating her on the parent’s stance.
The email said that if Kelley chose to have the baby, the couple would not agree to be the baby’s legal parents. “You will be the only person who will be making decisions about the child, should the child be born.”
Kron then informed Kelley of the parents offer. They would pay her $10,000 to have the abortion. As tempting as the offer was, Kelley still said no.
Then the parents took the issue further by hiring attorney, Douglas Fishman. Fishman sent a letter to Kelley threatening her.
Fishman wrote, “You are obligated to terminate this pregnancy immediately. You have squandered precious time.”
Fishman went on to say that when Kelley had signed the contract she agreed to “abortion in case of severe fetus abnormality” and that she was in breach of contract. He went on to say that if she did not abort, the parents would sue her for the $8,000 they had already paid her plus the medical expenses and legal fees.
That’s when Kelley hired her own attorney, Michael DePrimo. DePrimo took her case for free and advised her that it didn’t matter what the contract stated because she couldn’t be forced to have an abortion.
DePrimo sent Fishman a letter saying Kelley would not abort. Fishman later contacted DePrimo and informed him that the parents changed their minds and would exercise their legal right to take custody of the baby.
Fishman then revealed that once they took custody of the baby they would immediately upon her birth turn the baby over to the state of Connecticut and she would become a ward of the state.
DePrimo explained to Crystal Kelley that under Connecticut’s “Save Haven Act for Newborns” law, the parents could voluntarily give the baby up without any fear of arrest for child abandonment. He also explained to her that she could take them to court for custody but she’d likely lose because the state laws state that the genetic parents were the legal parents.
That’s when he told Kelley that her other option was to move to a state that would consider her the baby’s legal mother. Kelley chose the go to Michigan.
Kelley stated, “Once I realized that I was going to be the only person really fighting for her, that Mama bear instinct kicked in, and there was no way I was giving up without a fight.” The only thing left for her to do was find someone willing to adopt the baby and she thought she knew who the perfect person would be.
There was a woman and her husband who had helped her find support groups for the parents of kids who had medical problems. They had supported her and even helped her pack up for the move to Michigan.
It was also obvious that the couple did not believe that the baby couldn’t have a happy life. They said, “While it is true that the baby will face some life-long challenges, it is also true that it is also more than possible for her to have a wonderful life and to thrive.”
“I am sorry that her biological parents have abandoned their daughter and left you navigating this new, unexpected journey as the sole person bearing responsibility for her well-being and care.” When Crystal Kelley asked them to adopt the baby, the couple never hesitated before saying yes.
The baby was full-term when she was born. She weighed six pounds nine ounces and wasn’t breathing on her own.
The pediatrician pumped oxygen into her lungs and about 20 seconds later the baby was breathing on her own. The medical record from her birth stated, “Infant appears to be moving all extremities and crying appropriately.”
An agreement was reached between all the parties. The biological couple keeps in touch with the adopted family and visit the baby. The baby’s health turned out to be worse and more complicated than the ultrasound revealed.
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