Surrogate Mom at Center of Legal Battle Speaks Out

Melissa Cook talks to ABC News about her legal battle over triplets.

ByABC News
May 25, 2016, 4:43 PM

— -- Melissa Cook, a 48-year-old mother of four who made headlines when she refused to abort one of the triplets she was carrying as a surrogate mom, says she will never give up her fight to see the three babies she bore in February.

“I loved them while they were in me. I love them still," Melissa Cook said in an interview that aired today on “Good Morning America." I do feel like they are part mine."

So she has taken the issue to court, asking a Los Angeles judge Monday to allow her to visit the children to make sure they’re OK. The judge is expected to issue a written opinion on her lawsuit in the next seven to 21 days.

Cook of Woodland Hills, California, was hired by a Georgia man to be a gestational surrogate. She gave birth to the triplets in February after undergoing in-vitro fertilization with a sperm sample from the man who hired her and three eggs from an anonymous donor.

Early in the pregnancy, Cook told ABC News, the biological father told her he only wanted two babies because he said he could not afford to raise three.

The biological father is identified in court documents as C.M., a 50-year-old man living at home with his parents.

“For him to say, 'Oh, I changed my mind,' is ridiculous," Cook said. "I said, 'Get it together. We will figure it out.'"

Cook said she had signed a surrogacy contract -- before knowing how many of the embryos would take -- allowing the biological father to reduce the number of fetuses for medical reasons. C.M.’s attorney, Robert Walmsley, told ABC News his client asked Cook to abort one of the fetuses out of concern for "her health and the health of the children."

He also claims that several doctors asked Cook to abort a fetus because of her age.

Walmsley said Cook entered into a contract with his client that any or all children would be his, and that he could ask her to abort but couldn’t force her to do so.

“Most importantly, the children are still his," Walmsley said.

“C.M. is committed to his children. He is caring for them. They are happy and they are absolutely beautiful," Walmsley said. "We are not denying the fact that it’s difficult to take care of triplets, as it would be for anybody, but he is loving and cherishing it every day.”

Cook’s lawyer, Harold Cassidy, told ABC News that “Melissa wanted to do what was best for the children.”

Legal expert Elura Nanos, who is not involved in the case, told ABC News it would "violate the rights of privacy to force a woman to get an abortion."

“No one would ever enforce such a provision," Nanos said.

When Cook gave birth to the three babies in February, she said that she was not allowed to see them and the hospital could not legally give her any information about the babies. Cook and her lawyers told ABC News the genetic father took the triplets home after they had been at the hospital for almost two months.

“I sit there crying at night wondering what is going to happen to the children and if they are going to be cared for," Cook told ABC News.

Cook said she has filed the lawsuit to ensure the children are in good hands. She said she is also working to have California surrogacy laws changed.

“We are going to fight to have the law changed so that courts look at the best interest of the children, so that courts take into account the surrogate,” said Michael Caspino, another one of Cook's attorneys.

Cook added, "It would be wonderful to hold these children to let them know, I'm fighting for you guys."

The attorney for the babies' father said Cook's complaints contain "erroneous facts."

“There are so many erroneous facts in the court complaints filed by Melissa Cook and her lawyers," Walmsley said. "Their goal is to litigate this in the media and file in any court available to drain him financially.

"If they cared about the children, they wouldn’t deprive them of their father and his resources," he said.