Baby Tug Of War: Everyone Loses

1 mother + 1 father + donor egg + sperm-bank sperm + surrogate carrier = trouble. Especially when it turns out the mother has a history of mental illness and the surrogate changes her mind.

If, like us, you've been following the heartbreaking saga of the Kehoe twins, the detailed piece in the New York Times on the murky politics of surrogacy will reconfirm what you already knew: the issue is a mess. This case might be called the ultimate test, involving as it does as many variables as possible. But it brings to the fore issues that affect many surrogacy cases. Because unlike adoption, surrogacy is largely unregulated. And in a case like this, where no one party is biologically related to the babies, lawmakers are basically making it up as they go along, state by state. Explains the Times,

Instead, surrogacy is controlled mainly by fertility doctors, who determine which arrangements are carried out and also earn money by performing the procedures. And while some agencies that coordinate surrogacies and some clinics that carry them out strictly adhere to guidelines, others do not, the interviews and records show... Between brokers, legal and medical expenses and surrogate fees, a successful surrogacy can cost prospective parents $80,000 to $120,000. About an estimated 100 agencies advertise themselves as surrogacy brokers.

For instance, in the case of the Kehoes, psychological screening was "recommended" but not required. Sound problematic? It is.

On Tuesday, July 28, the babies were born by Caesarean section. The following Monday, in court in Ann Arbor, Ms. Baker said she first learned of Ms. Kehoe's psychiatric history...During a hearing to transfer guardianship to the Kehoes, Scott Kehoe said his wife had paranoid schizophrenia. Ms. Kehoe's psychiatrist listed the diagnosis as a "psychotic disorder not otherwise specified." Ms. Kehoe takes an antipsychotic to control her symptoms. Before her diagnosis in 2001, Ms. Kehoe told the judge, she had self-medicated, and that was the reason for her arrest on charges of cocaine use and driving under the influence. Adoption experts said that mental illness was not a bar to adoption if the illness was under control and the patient went to doctor's appointments and took medications. And Ms. Kehoe's psychiatrist wrote a letter saying she would be a good mother because her disease had been fully controlled for eight years and she currently had no symptoms.

Laschell Baker, who carried the twins, has reclaimed them and, with her husband, is raising them as her own. After a prolonged legal struggle, the Kehoes have relinquished the fight. The Bakers, however, have faced tremendous fallout in the surrogate community, much of which condemns their actions. Fired back Baker on Surromomsonline.com,

My reasons for wanting to take them back were purely that I was not comfortable that she has a pscyological disorder, thats my reason. I never knew about the other issues either including the legal stuff, but that was not my reason at all. If i would have known up front about the medical disorder up front I never would have felt comforable working with them. Not making judgement I'm glad she is working on changing her life, however I did not want to release the babies in their forever care and never know if something ever went wrong. I was totally ready to go through with everything untill I found out this important issue. We did not use an agency. Funny that so many of the surrogates take sides so quickly when not everything is out about the story. I will not STOOP to their level and air ALL THE DIRT and things I and my family have delbt with during th