(If anyone reading this doesn't know my background, here is a link to it.)
See that comment above in the title? That’s a text I received at 8AM this morning from a friend of mine who saw a segment on Theresa Erickson on The Today Show. I’ve spent five years trying to turn every single possible moment into a teaching moment, always talking about IVF and using a surrogate when strangers ask if “twins run in my family,” patiently explaining what A.R.T. is, etc etc. And after five flipping years of this, I get a text from a friend who KNOWS what we went through and how our children were conceived, and she asked if Kelly had to fly to the Ukraine, even though I have never mentioned that country’s name to her, ever. omgareyoufuckingkiddingme. WTF have you DONE, Theresa and Hilary and Carla? What have you done to us??
Where do I start? I really didn’t want to post about this because my thoughts have been so scattered since reading the articles about what these women did to our community, but here I am.
Both Theresa and Hilary were part of our legal team when we decided to use a gestational carrier. There was a ton of positive press about these two and it was an easy decision, and our surrogacy agency is the one who recommended them. I had even worked with Hilary three years earlier when she represented my first GC. I had nothing but praise for both of them. In fact, Kelly and Hilary got along so well that once our contracts were all completed, Hilary sent Kelly a little gift. She was so supportive of us, knew everything DH and I had gone through, was always there. Theresa’s assistant, who was really my main contact at her lawfirm, was wonderful. She had adopted twin boys and when Kelly was pregnant with the twins, and we would have these long, twin conversations. We became Facebook friends. We enjoyed speaking to each other. I sent birth announcements to both of them. I didn’t know they knew each other.
At the end of Kelly’s pregnancy we had a couple of problems with getting her payments from my escrow account at Theresa’s lawfirm. I began calling and leaving messages as well in addition to Kelly’s messages. Eventually, she called me back and explained that they had switched to a new phone system, and all voicemails were lost. She didn’t explain why she never answered our emails. We both thought this sounded…not quite right. Eventually, Kelly was paid but both of us thought things were still just really odd, especially because in the past their response would be immediate. I asked for the final statement showing all the withdrawals/checks written from the escrow account to Kelly, and I had a question about a $120 charge. I called and emailed twice, but never heard back. Again, I thought it was strange, but at that point, I just couldn’t put more energy into it. I knew something was off, but it brought back too many heart-searing-painful Merritt Patterson/SPCT scamming memories of us trying to get our money back. (f*ck you still Merritt!) So, we knew something wasn’t right, but I got over it.
Now it all makes sense. They were under FBI investigation at that time.
This means that I have personally come into contact with four criminals (that I know of) in my five years of IF. This is disgusting.
I am tired of defending IF and third party reproduction. I am tired of sensational stories like these setting us back to the dark ages. Again. (Thanks Octomom! Thanks stupid ass ugly Kate Gosselin! Here’s raising a glass to ya!)
What if Kelly was pregnant right now and my money was still with her Theresa’s firm. Could I have survived THIS blow? On top of the hell we experienced for five years? What are current IPs doing out there? What about the GC’s that Hilary was currently representing?
Why did they do this? Why did they get so greedy, when they were doing so much good, in their legit professional life?
I do believe they did good work, and that these illegal activities didn’t necessarily impact their work. People can be duplicitous. Look at all these politicians out there who publicly fight for a certain cause or bill, but privately engage in the exact activities they are fighting against?
I can’t stop thinking about this. Also, the story sounded so familiar to me so I went back to my email history and did a few searches. And yep, in October of 2009, Hilary contacted me about her “friend” named Carla (who is the third defendant in this case) who had a baby who’s IPs backed out, and the baby needed to be placed asap. The cost was $100,000, and DE/DS was used. The donor profiles were just one single page with only basic physical characteristics, and this Carla lady (contacting me via Hilary, I never spoke to Carla even though both Hilary and I didn’t want Hilary being the middle person) refused to provide additional information. The GC would have to travel to California to give birth due to their flexible laws (that’s the reason we were told, now we know it’s because that’s where Theresa worked. Oh, and we were told that the IVF clinic was located in CA but she refused to tell us which clinic), and I would be responsible for all medical expenses, the GC’s living costs, etc (all of this on top of the $100K fee.) I was not permitted to fly to Wisconsin to meet the GC, where she lived, prior to the birth. It goes on and on. And guess what- I would have done it in a heartbeat. I had just completed my 8th IVF , which worked, but then the baby died for no reason when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I would have done ANYthing- this was a slam dunk! Absolutely we knew we were being taken advantage of, but we sure didn’t care. Absolutely everything sounded sketchy and alarm bells were ringing, but we didn’t care! You are simply not in your right mind.
I can’t believe I was possibly this close to parenting one of these Ukraine DE/DS children created to be sold.
Interestingly, though, Hilary actually advised me not to follow through with this opportunity. She agreed that there should be more donor information, especially medical information. Hilary mentioned that she had worked with this Carla in the past and when I point blank asked if she had seen first hand a baby being born and placed in the arms of parents she said yes, she had. (ugh, makes me sick thinking of all the things going on behind that sentence, you know?) Hilary told us not to pursue, and I believe it was for one of two reasons: 1) She and I really bonded, she knew our awful traumatic history, and she didn’t want us to be one of the scammed couples placed with one of these children; perhaps she’d prefer to use fresh blood and not a couple she had worked with for three years; or 2) the option DH thinks is true- she realized I’d ask too many questions, raise too many flags, and she just wanted to shut it down. I have an email to her to forward on to Carla with a list of 8 specific questions that I demanded MUST be answered by a certain date, and they were pretty damn good questions. I had been around the block a few times, and the way DH sees it, they just didn’t want to get us involved in their ring. So perhaps they had Hilary advise against it, yet it would seem like our decision and we’d drop it. Which we did.
This is kind of a nuts and bolts type of post. I’m not really talking about my emotions, how I feel personally since we were clients of them, or really getting into the ripple effect they will have on our community. I think some other bloggers out there have done a better job, so I’ll leave you with some links if you want to read more about this:
Mel’s blog/The Stirrup Queen
"My Thoughts on the Theresa Erikson Baby Selling Scandal"
Kym’s Blog (a former surrogate)
Erikson Scandal- We All Fall Down
Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed
Betraying The Community
Baby With a Twist (a fellow IM who also used a surrogate)
And if anyone wants to read the actual legal plea agreements, here they are.