The following comes from an Aug. 19 story on Yahoo.com.
When news broke earlier this month about baby Gammy — the newborn with Down syndrome who was left (or kept) in Thailand with his surrogate mother while his intended adoptive parents returned to Australia with his twin sister — many were shocked. But not Keston and Andrea Ott-Dahl, a San Francisco couple who had a similar experience right here in America.
“We were not surprised, because it happened to us,” Keston, 48, told Yahoo Health. She’s referring to the roller-coaster ride she and her partner, Andrea, had in 2012, when Andrea agreed to be a surrogate for their friends, another lesbian couple who wanted a child but was having trouble conceiving. So she agreed to become impregnated with the sperm of their friends’ gay male friend, and they were off.
“I had no reservations about it,” Andrea, 32, told Yahoo Health, “because I’d already had two kids, and we were looking forward to the day when we’d have less responsibility. I just saw our friends who wanted this dream so badly, and I thought it would be easy for me.” Keston added, “We thought we were doing something wonderful.”
What wound up happening was unexpectedly heart-wrenching for everyone: A routine fetal exam revealed that the baby Andrea was carrying had Down syndrome, and doctors said the baby would most likely die due to a birth defect called cystic hygroma. The intended moms requested that Andrea abort the fetus. It was a scenario that had been discussed ahead of time, and it was even included in the legal contract drawn up between both parties. “We had said we’d terminate at their request for medical reasons,” Keston said. “But nobody ever thought we’d be in this situation.”
At first, Keston said, “I’m not proud of this, but I agreed. I was terrified of people [with Down syndrome], repulsed, and I sympathized with them for backing out.” Andrea, meanwhile, said that she dreaded terminating the pregnancy, because she’d had an abortion years before and it “weighed heavily” on her. Still, she would have gone along with the agreement if everyone had been on the same page. But when Keston told her she could not condone the abortion, Andrea said it was “the happiest day of my life” when they decided together that they would keep and raise the baby as their own.
Things soon became complicated. The friends briefly threatened legal action, an attorney friend of the Ott-Dahls deemed the contract unenforceable, the friends backed out, and the sperm donor, along with his partner, disappeared and then reappeared right before the baby was born, saying they wanted to be her fathers (though they are no longer in the picture, according to Keston). Meanwhile, the Ott-Dahls had to grapple with explaining it all to their two kids (now 6 and 8) — specifically, that instead of Andrea becoming pregnant and having a baby and handing it over to another couple, the kids would have a new sibling, but that there would be “something wrong” with her.
After their baby girl, Delaney, was born in July 2013, it was discovered that she did not have cystic hygroma but did have Down Syndrome. Andrea and Keston are no longer friends with the women Andrea had intended to surrogate for, and the couple has never met Delaney, though Keston and Andrea both said they understand and have no ill will toward them….
To read the entire story, click here.