Surrogacy Story: Chapter 4, The Hard Way

on November 8, 2012

Surrogacy-BabyOur friends (call them Robert and Daniel) had returned from California with two beautiful boys… and a horror story.

The couple had paid a small fortune for the surrogacy procedure.  Initially they spent $150,000 for the surrogacy.  But the children had been born prematurely and required time in the NICU.

That’s a harrowing experience to see your infant in an incubator, baked under sunlamps, drinking saline through a tube, and having air forced into his shriveled lungs.  I went through this with Owen, and it was heart wrenching.

There are no baby cries in the NICU, because none have the capacity to make noise.  How can a room filled with new life be so similar to a tomb?  The only noises are the electronic pings of the heart and lung monitors, and an occasional high-pitched alarm when one of the machines detects a stalled heartbeat or faltering breathing.  At that point you prey again for the silence.

NICU was not part of our friends’ plans – nor was it covered by their Surrogacy contract or their Surrogate’s insurance policy.  There was no doubt the two babies would survive their ordeal (premature birth is quite common among in-vitro babies), but while in the hospital they were racking up an enormous debt.

Fortunately, Robert and Daniel were men of means – meaning they had money and didn’t worry too much about the hospital bill.  After a couple of weeks, their boys were released.  And Robert and Daniel were eager to return home.

But the process to obtain their twin’s Spanish passports was complicated in the US.  Surrogacy is legal in most of the United States (some states more than others), but it’s not easily recognized in Spain.  In most of Europe, a child’s ‘mother’ is always, always the woman who gives birth.  I suppose this made a lot of sense before 1980, when having children was mostly a straightforward process.  But reproductive technology changes, and Spain had not kept up.

As a result, the local Spanish consulate rejected the US birth certificate with Robert and Daniel’s names as parents.  In their opinion, the birth certificate needed a woman’s name – but the only woman was the surrogate, and adding her name to the document would be giving her legal authority over the child.  Not an option.  So they hired a private lawyer and thought about their options.

But Robert and Daniel were eager to get home.  Their children had US passports (by virtue of being born in the US), so they did what many would be tempted to do…  they left.

Daniel and Robert and the two boys returned to Spain, with the boys traveling as tourists on their US passports.  Like many parents, what they thought was the best route for their new family turned out to be just about the worst.

When we met our friends and their two boys, they were continuing legal hassles with the Spanish government – but much more complicated since the boys were now in the country illegally, and against directives of the consular’s office.  They were fighting the good fight with their private lawyer.  And they were sorting through over to $250,000 in hospital and surrogacy expenses, with legal fees still mounting.

But this blog is not a story about our long-suffering friends.  This is a story with a happy ending.  Because as we all know, Owen and Noah returned with me to Spain, reasonably quickly, totally legally, and in first-class.

To be continued….


One response to “Surrogacy Story: Chapter 4, The Hard Way

  1. […] remember after we heard our friends’ horror story about their surrogacy process in California, I felt a renewed interest in starting our new […]

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