Pro-life or Pro-choice, everyone has something to say about it. And I can’t stand those who have such a strong opinion without ever having to go through it, regardless this isn’t a post about that in particular. A few weeks ago one story made national news when a woman by the name of Crystal Kelley refused to get an abortion for a child that was not hers. Kelley was a surrogate trying to help another family complete their picture perfect lives.
Millions of couples are unable to conceive and look to other ways of having a family; adopting, fostering, or finding a surrogate. So I’m sure when the couple “hired” Kelley they didn’t expect for things to go the way they did. The couple lived in Connecticut with already three of their own children and wanted to desperately have another child, but was unable to. The day Kelley met the couple she immediately agreed to be their surrogate since she viewed them to be a very caring and loving family.
In October of 2011 two embryos were planted inside of Kelley’s uterus and within days she was pregnant. The couple was thrilled and made Kelley feel special– buying Kelley’s two girls Christmas presents, calling and making sure she was feeling okay and even giving Kelley the surrogacy money in advance for rent. They had become somewhat of family.
5-months into Kelley’s pregnancy the ultrasound showed the baby had a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in her brain and serious heart defects. They couldn’t see a stomach or a spleen. Imagine that? No one ever expects the unexpected so this was very heart-breaking.
We all want a healthy baby, but what happens when months in you find out that there are complications? One also has to take into consideration that ultrasounds aren’t always 100%. It’s a decision that will haunt you for the rest of your life so taking precautions in making a decision whether to keep or abort is devastating.
The next ultrasound was on February 16, 2012 at Hartford hospital where the couple would meet her. The technician confirmed what was found in the ultrasound– the baby did in fact have a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in her brain and serious heart defects. It was explained to them that the baby would need several heart surgeries after birth and would have a 25% of living a normal life.
With that said the biological parents decided they wanted to terminate. They tried to convince Kelley to terminate since their three children were all born prematurely and two of them spent months in the hospital and knew what it was to raise and care for a child with complications. They didn’t want that for this child. Kelley wouldn’t have it.
During that time Kelley was getting contacted by Surrogacy International and was told that if she wanted to carry out the pregnancy the parents would not have to be the legal parents. Now Kelley has the right to be this child’s parent, however that was never her intention. Kelley was not financially stable to support a third child– she had lost her nanny job and the only income was from the child support and surrogacy payments which were going to end. So being a parent to this child was unfortunately not an option.
Kelley was offered $10,000 to get an abortion and had not nudged. In a weak moment Kelley asked that if she was given $15,000 she would abort the child. Soon after Kelley felt horrible having even said those words and decided not to go through with it. Regardless the parents had declined to pay $15,000. I just can’t believe people are negotiating whether a child lives or dies. What’s even worse is who decides this!?
The parents hired an attorney who told Kelley she needed to abort now. They were going to sue for what they paid Kelley thus far, medical expenses and legal fees. In return Kelley hired her own attorney (free) who advised her that she didn’t have to get an abortion. Great. But now the parents changed their minds and decided to be the legal parents of the child and once she was born they would turn the baby over to the state thus becoming a ward of the state! Are you kidding me? That’s just as bad as getting an abortion. That couple is evil! Having worked in foster care I can tell you it’s rare to get a good family who actually cares.
Many states have laws that recognize whomever carries the child is the legal parent doesn’t matter whether it’s their egg or not. Kelley took that and ran with it (literally) to Michigan.
Michigan was going to be the place to go not only because the laws recognized Kelley as the legal parent, but because Kelley did her research and found that Mott Children’s Hospital had the best pediatric heart programs. Okay one problem solved– so who’s keeping the baby?
Kelley had found an adoptive family online who had helped her through the ordeal and had children both biological and adopted who had medical issues so they were use to this kind of thing. Once Kelley decided she would like them to adopt tthe biological parents were fighting again to be legal parents of the child. After much thought the parents gave up their rights, but only if they could be in the child’s life indirectly.
Baby S as the adoptive parents call her was born full-term and six pounds nine ounces on June 25th, but she wasn’t breathing. Her body was limp and blue. Her heart rate was dangerously low.
The pediatricians pumped oxygen into her tiny lungs, and in about 20 seconds her heart rate went up to normal. She breathed on her own. Her color normalized. Unfortunately, the ultra sound didn’t catch-all of what the baby was going to be born with. She has a birth defect called holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to completely divide into distinct hemispheres. She has heterotaxy, which means many of her internal organs, such as her liver and stomach, are in the wrong places. She has at least two spleens, neither of which works properly. Her head is very small, her right ear is misshapen, she has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, and a long list of complex heart defects, among other problems.
Baby S has already had one open-heart surgery and surgery on her intestines, within the next year she’ll need about two more cardiac surgeries including procedures to repair her cleft lip and palate. Later on in childhood she’ll need surgeries on her jaw and ear and more heart surgeries.
The adoptive parents speak so highly of her and state she’s a little girl who’s defied the odds, who constantly surprises her doctors with what she’s able to do — make eye contact, giggle at her siblings, grab toys, eye strangers warily.
Who knows that she won’t be able to walk or talk? Who knows if she will in fact survive and overcome all these obstacles? No one. This is a very touchy subject and many may agree with Kelley’s decision and many may damn her, but again who are you to judge so harshly if you haven’t gone through it? What price is your child worth?
What are your thoughts?