Surrogate Mom Faces Her Critics
So, I finally caught the Dr. Phil special on Shelly Baker. If you get a chance, click on the link above to watch some clips. As a surrogate, and as a mother, I do feel for both sides, but in the end, Shelly Baker has stolen these twins.
Shelly Baker, an experienced surrogate and mother of 4, became a surrogate for a couple who could not have children. Using an egg donor and a sperm donor, Shelly got pregnant with twins and gave birth about 6 months ago. After the couple had the babies for a month, they all went before a judge to finalize the adoption. Since the surrogacy took place in Michigan, the state automatically places the birth mother (Baker) on the birth certificate, making her the guardian until an adoption takes place. At the adoption hearing, Baker becomes aware of a mental illness the intended mother has had. Although the intended mother had gone under a specific evaluation by a psychiatrist and was given approval to become a great mother, Baker felt these babies were now in danger. Under the Michigan law, Shelly took the babies back and began raising them as her own. For the past 6 months, the intended parents have been fighting to get their babies back.
This situation is so difficult and impossible to solve. Many people argue that the twins are not biologically the intended parents and therefore should not automatically be granted custody, but I believe that is a very harsh argument. This couple was unable to have their own children, and for 9 months they grew to believe that they were finally going to be parents. These babies belonged to them. Should we then believe that an adoptive parents child is not biologically theirs, therefore, we can take the child from them anytime we please? Also, these babies are not biologically Shelly's whatsoever. Why is she able to choose where these babies go?
The huge problem here, is where the surrogacy took place. Every state has different laws regarding surrogacy. Michigan has one of the strictest laws prohibiting surrogacy contracts, not only holding them unenforceable, but also imposing fines and jail time on anyone who enters into such a contract (up to five years and $50,000 for some). It was the mistake of both parties to undergo surrogacy in this state. The intended parents now have no rights to these babies, and Shelly Baker has all legal rights to them. However, if this would have taken place in California, the intended parents would have been immediately placed on the birth certificate (no matter who was the biological parents) and would have been given full legal guardianship where Shelly Baker would never be able to take the children.
I do not agree with what this surrogate mother has done; she committed to carry these babies and give a couple a gift they could not receive on their own. If we were to judge each and every mom out there based on their mental status, we would find many women who have had troubled pasts but were able to become perfect parents. Shelly Baker is now raising these babies and they have become apart of their family. Although the intended parents should never stop fighting for them, we now have to think of the children. What is best for them? They have now bonded with the Baker's and every day that goes by they are becoming more and more attached to them. This situation is impossible to solve. My advice to anyone out there considering surrogacy is to definitely research laws and regulations in your state. It is best to work with an agency and get legal contracts. Without that, you are risking the future of yourself and the surro babies.