My day yesterday, and now today has been filled with being a media resource for print and television around all things Theresa Erickson: “baby selling”, Surrogacy and egg donation. This is not a new role for me, being a patient advocate voice is something that I have done from my days of being the executive director of RESOLVE NYC to founding and being the first executive director of The American Fertility Association. And this is also not the first controversial story that I have tried to talk through with the press and patients- as well as connect them with appropriate additional resources.
I have to admit that this is one of the ugliest stories that I have had to deal with (and unfortunately, that is saying a lot), and it is a story that has left me with more questions than answers other than completely understanding the facts as they have been presented to us – and to that end my blog yesterday was a pretty good round up of what we know.
But this is where I am left hanging:
1. How many surrogates are out there right now who are pregnant? What will happen to those babies?
2. The rumor mill says that there are some ( I have not heard numbers yet), so who is taking care of them?
3. Will these surrogates be paid and receive proper medical care?
4. Where will these babies who are unborn and innocent go? Will the children have US Citizenship? Will they be put into protective custody and become a ward of the state? How long will they need to wait until they can be adopted into loving homes?
5. How are prospective families, consumers, intended parents and surrogates able to feel safe when working with an agency if someone as “respectable” as Theresa Erickson confessed to running a baby selling ring? As a long time fertility advocate (over 20 years), from non profit experience to private one on one fertility coaching – Theresa had all the makings of a perfect referral. She served on patient organization boards, she was highly visible – often on television. It is true that she was not on my referral list for my private one on one coaching clients because there were too many rumors about her – but not because of anything that she did. I just wasn’t comfortable. But how is a regular person seeking fertility care suppose to know about the inside talk track of a profession? For the average patient – knowing who to trust just got scarier. Everyone wants to know the check list of how to find the perfect referral – but on paper Theresa had all the checks in place.
6. How will the parents of the children created through this “made to order” baby ring be advised as what they should share with their children? How do you tell this story to children? How will knowing that they were created with the intent to be sold effect their lives?
My biggest fear is that this is just the tip of the ice burg. My inbox is filled with letters from prospective parents wanting referrals to safe egg donor and surrogacy agencies. I believe in my referral network – with the professionals that I have worked with for years. Honorable, open hearted people who show up every day to support the birth of families ethically.
I believe in the families that are built through ethical third party reproduction and IVF. And I am left with the same questions as everybody else…. is it possible to safe guard ever against wrong doing?