When someone acts as a surrogate for a couple, it's generally seen as a wonderful thing.

It's a very difficult and selfless act that can help someone complete their family.

It's also filled with a lot of controversy, as the situation can be abused if you aren't protected.

This arrangement benefits the rich over others, as paying for options for becoming a parent is an expensive process and they have the resources to do so. But for people on the bubble, surrogacy, in vitro fertilization, fertility treatments and even adoption can use most of their available resources in their quest to have children.

In many countries, it's also possible for the surrogate to back out and fight the parents for custody, even when both the egg and sperm are implanted.

Without proper legal protection, there may be nothing the other party can do about it.

Steven and Marc Winchester-Horscraft found out about this the hard way.

After a previous successful surrogacy that gave them their son, they wanted to complete their family. The couple said they got to know and befriend their surrogates before they tried to get pregnant, even inviting their second surrogate and her boyfriend to their wedding.

When they finally got pregnant, they were overjoyed to find out it was twins. This increased the pregnancy costs the surrogate billed them for, but they were happy to pay the £17,000 ($22,280) requested to cover her costs. It is illegal in many countries to pay a surrogate for their services, however the parents can be contracted to cover the costs associated with the pregnancy for their surrogate.

However, the babies were born at 28 weeks, and had to spend time in the NICU.

"Having our girls in NICU was only the very beginning of our long, excruciating nightmare."

"It's super easy to donate. The story is heart breaking. How cruel people can be." - Motorcyclegrrl

"This story is horrendous.
"These poor men. Their poor babies. Donated!!! Thank you for sharing their story."
"The community works so hard to form families of biological origin. Surrogacy, IVF, trans-implantation of eggs, oh man. So much science."
"And to have something so selfish happen to them. OVER MONEY."
"I just can't even..."
"I know there's 2 sides to every story so I'm sure there's more to it.... But god damn... Stop hurting people for profit." - TrixieGears

As the little girls fought for their lives, the surrogate's boyfriend tried to get more money from the couple. He asked for another £3,000 (almost $4,000 USD) which the couple didn't have after already paying the £17,000 ($22,280) the surrogate already asked for.

"Before our surrogate was discharged she wanted the remainder of her pregnancy expenses to be paid, which we paid with out any fuss... nearly 17k in total."

After turning him down, the surrogate texted the couple to say they would not list Steven, the biological father, on the birth certificate, nor would she sign over parental rights.

According to Steven:

"A couple of days later I receive a text saying because we have not paid the extra money, our surrogate will not be putting me (the biological father) on the birth certificate and she will not sign a parental order (a form needed to remove surrogates parental responsibility giving it to the couple the babies were conceived for)."

The couple didn't have extra money for a lawyer at that moment, as they put all their money into the final expenses the surrogate asked them to pay.

So they took out loans to get legal advice.

As legal proceedings began, the surrogate also put a ban on the couple seeing the children.

She claimed her boyfriend was the father of the girls. Eventually, a DNA test proved she was lying and the couple now has custody of the twins.

But not without great cost.

Currently, the couple is sitting in debt of £26,000 ($34,000 USD) after all the legal fees. This is a lot, both in terms of money, and just the story itself.

It has brought up the question online about the ethics of surrogates.

The couple started a GoFundMe to try and cover some of the legal costs.

Steven wrote:

"We are both nurses and have spent our working lives caring for others. I guess I am just hoping for some help from others in order to get us out of this awful situation. Due to our surrogates actions we have not been able to enjoy the time we have had with our girls. Both having to try and work as much as we possibly can to break even and get us out of this downward spiral."

At time of writing, they have about £6,400 raised of the £26,000 they are asking for.

They understand that they are asking for a lot, when it comes to this donation, but they aren't expecting it to fully fund.

"I understand that the amount we are hoping for is most likely unrealistic, but we would be eternally [grateful] for any help at all."

If you're looking at fertility options for any reason, the book Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (What You Need to Know About Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Sperm Donation) is available here.

KJ Styles/Unsplash

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