Andrew Vorzimer Esq just posted an incredible blog on his site The Spin Doctor where he gives insight into what has been going on for the surrogates in the Theresa Erickson baby selling ring. That blog, resulted in Andy and I connecting this morning to talk about the case – and his biggest concern – the victims in his care (several of the surrogates) the safety of the children and the intended parents.
Andy is a well known and highly respected reproductive lawyer specializing in surrogacy and egg donation (third party reproduction). His voice was full of passion as he expressed to me the pain of the surrogates that he is currently representing – and their fear that their voices are not being heard. Andy has been representing the surrogates for the last 13 months, which according to Andy is how long the investigation has been going on. As Andy tells it….
“I was originally approached by two well known attorneys in the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) community who were contacted by a surrogate caught up in the baby selling ring. This surrogate was in her third trimester and was not introduced to her any couple. Of course alarms bells were going off in her head. She was being blown off by Theresa Erickson, Hilary Neiman and Carla Chambers – and was panicked. And so contacted two separate lawyers who both contacted me to give the lawyers advice. I was retained to give advice to the attorneys – and then they transferred their clients to me for representation.
So, now I am representing these women since July 2010 and they are distraught and feel vilified by the media. They are reliving the trauma that they went through. It’s been completely awful for them. People have called them names – and accused them of being money grubbing. These women by the way have received no compensation at all for these services – but that is besides the point. At first I didn’t want them to speak to the media – but they have felt so strongly that their voices are not being heard – that I have finally decided to sanction limited appearances in the media – and I am finally willing to talk myself.
One of the surrogates who had a miscarriage in the second trimester and in addition to losing the baby she almost bleed to death. She wasn’t matched with an intended family – as would have been the case if her surrogacy arrangement was done lawfully – she was completely abandoned by Erickson, Neiman and Chambers. This poor woman was left with her medical bills, the burial experiences of the baby and was given no psychological support. Worst of all, she was ignored by the people that were supposed to be taking care of her – except for one email telling her that this was her responsibility!”
At this point in my conversation with Andy – I had so sit down as Andy continued to speak about the surrogates in his care.
“The bottom line for the lose questioning the integrity and intelligence of these surrogates is to understand that at every step in the process when questions were asked by these women, they were directed to speak to Theresa Erickson and Hilary Neiman – two of the most prominent and well respected attorneys in the fertility industry. The presence of Erickson and Neiman gave this entire operation the necessary legitimacy it needed to dupe these unsuspecting women to serve as surrogates”
Damn. That is the part that really hurts – when I speak to intended parents and women who are now nervous about proceeding with surrogacy. It is this fear – that if this group of highly respected professionals could do this – where is a person supposed to turn? I think that this is something that I will keep exploring in the weeks to come on this blog. But this was Andrew Vorzimer’s answer…
“There are criminals in every industry – and this was aberrational incident – that in no way reflects on he surrogacy community. People should not be deterred from pursuing their dreams of a family because of the misconduct of a few rogue individuals. At the end of the day – it is like saying that this case is as much a statement of the field of surrogacy as Casey Anthony is an indictment of all mothers. That’s just nonsense.
Erickson, Neiman and Chambers corrupted the system. They used legitimate surrogacy laws illegally to sanitize the commodification of babies.
I couldn’t help but asked Andy what he hoped for the surrogates? And his answer was simple.
“I hope that they can now begin to move forward with their lives. They took a great risk coming forward, and frankly they have been vilified. These surrogates never got compensated – one almost died. These women are as much victims as the babies that were created for financial gain”.
And what about the babies?
“I am thrilled to be able to say that all of the babies have been placed in loving homes. They have all be legally adopted, and they are doing beautifully.”
And for my last question – I asked Andy what he would say to intended parents?
“For those intended parents questioning whether to go forward, what I can say is this – I have worked with over 8000 surrogacy arrangements and never have I had a situation where a surrogate changed her mind or where there have been any allegations of impropriety – these arrangements work as long as you work with reputable professionals.”
Thank you Andrew!
Tune in tomorrow – when Tom Pickerton Esq of Reproductive Law Center answers many of the questions that I raised in my blog yesterday!