Surrogate Mom Almost Unknowingly Gives Up Her Biological Son
Surrogacy is an incredible gift for families who aren’t able to conceive on their own. But there’s a lot that the birth parents and the surrogate have to consider going in—especially since things don’t always go as planned. There are happy surprises, like the Indiana woman who became pregnant with twins at the exact same time her surrogate became pregnant with twins, expanding her family by four all at once. And there are shocking surprises, as was the case for one California woman.
Jessica Allen, 31, of Perris, California, told the New York Post that she decided to become a commercial surrogate in 2015, just six months after the birth of her second son. Not only would it give Allen a chance to become a stay-at-home mom and help her family buy a house, it would be a “chance to give a family the blessing of a child,” her now-husband Wardell Jasper told her.
She was soon paired with a Chinese couple and started the process in April 2016, after which Allen quickly got pregnant. At her six-week scan, it was confirmed she was carrying two babies. Everyone quickly assumed it was biological twins, which are fairly common with IVF, and the family agreed to up her payment from $30,000 to $35,000 for the second child. It was also written into Allen’s contract that she would be able to spend one hour with the newborns after they were born “just to check on how they were doing,” as she explains it. So, after she gave birth via c-section, Allen was dismayed to learn the biological parents had already left the hospital with the children before Allen was able to see them.
“The next day, their mom paid me a 10-minute visit and showed me a picture on her cell phone,” Allen tells the Post. “’Wow! They look different,’ I told her, before she snatched back the device. Little did I know that I’d hit the nail on the head. Not only were Mike and Max not identical—they had completely different DNA from one another.”
While one of the children appeared to be Asian, Allen observed that the other child, named Max, appeared to be half white, half African American. As it turns out, Allen, who is white, and Jasper, who is African American, had gotten pregnant naturally during the IVF round in which the birth parent’s embryo had been successfully transferred into Allen’s uterus. The extremely rare phenomenon is known as superfetation, which is when a pregnant woman conceives again with a different egg and sperm, resulting in two different pregnancies in the same womb.
Both children were given DNA tests in January 2010, and it was confirmed that while one child was a biological match to the birth parents, the other was indeed a match to Allen and Jasper.
Here’s where you would assume the Chinese couple would immediately return Allen’s son to her, right? Instead, they said that unless she paid them between $18,000 and $22,000 in compensation, either they or the agency that had brokered the surrogacy would put the baby up for adoption to “absorb” the cost. “It was like Max was a commodity and we were paying to adopt our own flesh and blood,” Allen tells the Post, pointing out that the other couple was still her son’s legal parents at this point, so they had the legal authority to do what they wanted.
To make matters worse, the agency also claimed Allen owed them an addition $7,000 for expenses incurred managing the situation between the two families and for looking after Max since the Chinese couple had wanted nothing to do with him after they’d confirmed he was not biologically theirs. Allen tried explaining to the agency that she wanted her son, but that she couldn’t afford the hefty fees they were claiming she owed (she’d already spent most of the money she’d been paid for the surrogacy to buy a house). Seeing no other choice, she hired an attorney and decided to fight them in court.
This is where you breathe a big sigh of relief because this story does have a happy ending. Allen not only won her negotiation, with the agency agreeing to waive the money they claimed she owed them, she also received legal custody of Max. She renamed him Malachi, who is now 10 months and “doing well,” according to mom. “He’s beautiful. He’s healthy and his personality is hilarious. He loves his big brothers, is learning to walk and is starting to speak.”
The agency did dispute Allen’s allegations to the Post, but they claim nondisclosure agreements and federal patient privacy laws prevent them from going into specifics. The CEO did say, however, that the company would likely pay the other family some compensation out of its own funds.