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Parents left with only visitation after surrogate keeps child

When a couple is unable to conceive a child, the stress and heartbreak can be overwhelming. Many couples choose to look for alternative means of expanding their family, and surrogacy is a popular option. When entering into a surrogacy relationship in Texas or elsewhere, it is absolutely imperative to have the proper legal counsel and to draft the contracts in accordance with the law. One couple learned that lesson in a painful way, and they are now forced to accept limited visitation with the child that they conceived with the help of a surrogate.

The couple carefully chose the young woman who would help them bring a child into the world. They met with the 22-year-old and her husband and asked a number of questions to make sure that the young couple was ready to take on such a weighty responsibility. A contract was drafted and signed, and the young woman became pregnant with a child using the prospective husband's sperm and her own egg.

Soon after the pregnancy began, the surrogate began acting strangely and eventually ended all contact with the couple. She did not notify them when the child was born and decided that she wanted to keep the baby. Because the surrogate is the biological mother of the child in question, the courts ruled that she has parental rights. A judge told the couple that it was not possible to enter into a contract that centered on a human life. They were also ordered to pay child support. 

The parties have been to court numerous times over the years, and the prospective parents have spent more than $90,000 trying to bring their daughter home. As of the time of this report, they are only allowed visitation with the child, although they have asked that their state's Judicial Conduct Board look into the matter. For now, they are limited to two monthly visits with the daughter that they planned on bringing home from the hospital and raising as their own. The situation has also forced them into an unusual co-parenting relationship with the woman they feel cheated them out of full parenthood. Their case should serve as a cautionary tale for those in Texas and elsewhere who are considering surrogacy.  

Source: People, "Heartbroken Parents Left Paying Child Support After Surrogate Keeps Their Baby Girl: 'I Spend Every Day Thinking of Her,' Says Mom", Caitlin Keating, March 7, 2016

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