Surrogate mother Crystal Kelley was five months pregnant with another couple's baby when she learned that the baby had several health problems. When doctors put the baby's odds of a normal life at 25 percent, the biological parents offered Kelley $10,000 to have an abortion, says a March 5 CNN article. Kelley refused. Drama, heartache and legal actions ensued. And the resulting story creates a complex mixture of sensitive and emotionally-charged topics: adoption, abortion, surrogacy, religion, state-specific laws and personal morals and beliefs.
The basic plot line of the story was simple enough, at least at the beginning. A couple who wanted a fourth child hired a surrogate, who was happy to carry that child on their behalf. When a routine ultrasound and follow-up testing turned up abnormalities, the medical experts suggested that terminating the pregnancy may be a "more humane option" than would be carrying the pregnancy to term. The hopeful couple, once so excited to add a fourth child to their brood, agreed. Kelley, however, did not.
Kelley's decision wasn't made lightly. She seemingly considered all angles, including taking the money to have the abortion. But, in the end, she opted against an abortion and fought for the right to give birth to the child growing inside of her. She left Connecticut and moved herself and her two biological daughters to Michigan. Laws governing surrogacy vary by state. In Connecticut, the genetic parents are the legal parents and, thus, the couple would've had the final say on what happened to Baby S. after she was born. In Michigan, the laws governing surrogacy are such that Kelley was recognized as the legal parent when Baby S. was born.
Kelley ultimately gave birth to Baby S., and found an family to adopt her. In another twist, the couple who once offered Kelley $10,000 to have an abortion decided they wanted to keep in touch with the adoptive family.
Kelley continues to receive much criticism for her decision, particularly from the surrogacy community. Many say she should've had the abortion. Others criticize her decision to flee to Michigan to take advantage of their surrogacy laws. Because of the medical challenges, many suggest that, perhaps, Baby S. should not have been born. Whether there's a happy ending to this story depends largely on the lens through which one examines the complex issues at play.
Now eight months old, Baby S., is living with her adoptive parents in Michigan. She faces multiple surgeries in the future and just how long she'll live remains uncertain. Regardless, her adoptive parents take joy in her smiles and in her personal milestones and, most importantly, in being her parents. Like others who build their families through special needs adoption, this little girl's parents believe hers is a life worth fighting for.