Surrogate Mom Damages Heart After Four Babies


The agency has about 100 couples a year seeking surrogates, including celebrities like Elton John, Kelsey Grammer, former "Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden and actresses Angela Bassett and Deidre Hall. More than half of their clients are gay couples.

"No one keeps any records and that's the problem with the field," she said. "Doctors have to report how many embryos they planted, but as soon as the pregnancy is announced, you never know about the birth."

Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) is the only organization that makes an effort to track surrogate births, but at least 15 percent of the clinics across the United States don't report their numbers, according to a 2008 investigation by Newsweek magazine. And private arrangements, most notably in the gay community, are on the rise.

Surrogacy is banned in much of Europe and in 12 states, including New York, New Jersey and Michigan, which refuse to recognize surrogacy contracts. Texas, Illinois, Utah and Florida have recently passed laws to legalize the practice, but in many states laws are still vague.

In Connecticut, Tony and Shawn Raftopol, the legal parents of Sebastiaan and Lukas, recently won a landmark lawsuit granting them automatic parenting rights based on their surrogacy contract with Daigle.

Daigle's interest in surrogacy began in 2004. "I knew that after my divorce I wouldn't be married any time soon and I had the baby itch," she said. "I thought it would be super awesome to get pregnant and do something good for other people."

At first she explored different online websites to learn more.

The first agency she contacted was in Indiana and the director suggested she lie about having health insurance. Another agency in New Jersey could talk only about the publicity they garnered. So she ruled out both and chose Circle Surrogacy in Boston, passing all the psychological tests.

One of the questions was what kind of a family Daigle would help.

"I was not willing to work with a single couple," she said. "It was beyond my comfort zone. I just had gotten divorced and didn't want to have a close relationship with just one person. I was in my 20s, I wasn't ready for that."

But she liked the idea of working with the Raftopols, who had a legal background like hers and were seeking a surrogate for their first child.

Her pregnancy with Zoe, who was born in July 2006, was "perfect," though she had some physical difficulties as her body was lactating but she didn't nurse the newborn.

"Two weeks afterwards I went back to work and they were on an airplane," she said.

Birth of Twins Was 'Physically' Hard

In 2008, the births of Sebastiaan and Lukas were, "a lot more physically strenuous," said Daigle. "In a word, carrying twins sucked."

The twins were born a full trimester early at 28 weeks in an emergency Caesarian section. They were a pound and a half each and spent three months in the neonatal intensive care unit. The Raftopols were overseas and Daigle and her soon-to-be fiancé were on their own.

"I was the only legal parent for three days," she said. "I had to be physically separated from the twins and said goodbye to them in their Isolettes. It was really traumatic."

Lukas, born in July 2010, was even also born by C-section, after Daigle developed preeclampsia, a dangerous condition that can cause death of the mother and baby. The high blood pressure associated with the condition stretched out her heart muscle.

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