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A 47-year-old mom with four biological children planned to work as a commercial surrogate mother in 2015. After signing with Surrogacy International, the agency placed her with an anonymous father simply called C.M in May 2015. She communicated with him via email only.

Her contract stipulated a payment of $27,000 along with a $6,000 bonus for multiples. A fertility doctor implanted three male embryos in hopes that one would be viable. They all survived. The virtual relationship she had formed with C.M. then shattered, and the case ended up exploding.

The surrogacy contract allowed for a selective abortion in the case of a multiple pregnancy, although C.M. initially thought he could provide for triplets. However, he later changed his mind and sent emails allegedly stating that he had no more finances and little income.

The surrogate, understandably, was devastated. She told him to make a decision about what to do, and he told her a few days later to pursue an abortion. She then suggested that she would raise one of the babies herself, but C.M. countered that he would seek adoption for one.

Cook opposes abortion. But then a representative from the surrogacy agency indicated that she could be liable for future care if one of the babies was born with a disability, which happens about 20 percent of the time for triplets, according to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

She then discovered that Surrogacy International had not investigated C.M.’s fitness as a parent — he was single and deaf with limited resources — and no one had visited his home. Furthermore, he fully admitted he could not care for three children.

In frustration, she went public with her concerns, telling others about her coerced abortion. The struggle even tugged at the heartstrings of feminists as a violation of her reproductive rights.

Another complication included payment of her medical bills. While her insurance initially covered basic doctor visits, she later found out that surrogate pregnancies were the exception, so she needed to reimburse them for some expenses. She didn’t realize this when she signed the contract. Her doctor told her to stop working and advised her that she might need to go on bed rest. She later began receiving disability insurance.

C.M. then decided to raise all three children. However, Cook didn’t think that she could turn over the children to him, and she wanted custody of one of them. Her attorney is filing a lawsuit challenging California surrogacy laws, claiming that they violate both her rights and those of the babies.

The situation highlights some of the most difficult issues in the industry: intentional, high-risk, multiple pregnancies; a lack of screening; financial considerations; and a lack of regulation for surrogates.

Surrogacy is a complicated process, fraught with all kinds of potential landmines. Our professionals can offer you experienced help at (763) 783-5146.