In 2012, a surrogacy arrangement made national headlines. Sadly, the little girl born from that arrangement, Seraphina Harrell, died recently on July 15 at the age of eight. Born with heterotaxy syndrome, Seraphina lived with multiple birth defects, internal organs in the wrong places in her body, and a brain malformation called holoprosencephaly.
The couple who hired Seraphina’s gestational carrier wanted the woman to terminate the pregnancy in the second trimester after an ultrasound showed several severe birth defects, offering her $10,000 to have an abortion. They did not feel that the little girl would have a meaningful life if carried to term. The gestational carrier disagreed, refused to terminate the pregnancy, and moved from Connecticut to Michigan where, according to the state law in effect at that time, she would be considered the baby’s legal parent. After Seraphina was born, the gestational carrier consented to the child’s adoption by a couple in Massachusetts.
In 2012, while most surrogacy contracts included provisions designed to address this type of situation, many did not, leaving intended parents and gestational carriers alike in limbo without a clearly defined path forward when fetal abnormalities were detected. Today, most attorneys and surrogacy coordinators cover this scenario in detail so this type of situation is much less common now than it was when Seraphina was born.
In addition to the emotional and financial considerations involved with surrogacy arrangements, there are legal risks that must be considered when contemplating starting or adding to your family this way. Working closely with an experienced assisted reproduction attorney who helps clients with the legal and contractual aspects of surrogacy arrangements can help avoid situations where the intended parents want one thing and the gestational carrier another.
To learn more about how we work with clients and to schedule a consultation, contact us today!