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So as news trickles in and I read more information on the now well known Theresa Erickson 'baby selling ring' I see that theories give way to the facts. Reading the LA Times tonight gives us all the perfect insight to how Erickson and others targeted surrogates as well as couples. It was not exactly as I imagined but in some ways worse! (read about this entire report here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-baby-ring-20110814,0,3021399.sto...)
"Chatting with women on websites for surrogate mothers, Melissa Todd stumbled upon an unusual opportunity.
It required foreign travel — a quick trip to the Ukrainian city of Lviv to be impregnated using embryos created in vitro from sperm and eggs of donors. The pay was $38,000, nearly double what she had made the one previous time she had been a surrogate.
Most uncommon was the arrangement itself. Typically, a couple hires a surrogate to carry and deliver a child for them, but in this case Todd would become pregnant first. Parents would be found later.
Todd was 40 with four children of her own and didn't want to be left to raise another if parents couldn't be found. That wouldn't be a problem, the program's coordinator, Carla Chambers, told her: More than 45 couples were waiting for babies.
She was reassured to hear that prominent attorneys were involved: Theresa Erickson of San Diego County, whose specialty was reproductive law, and Hilary Neiman of Maryland, a name familiar to anyone on surrogacy message boards.
A call to Neiman put any doubts to rest. "She assured me that everything Carla was doing was legal," Todd said.
A month later, in January 2010, Todd met Chambers in Ukraine, where embryos were implanted in both women.
It would take six months for Todd to learn that she had been recruited into a criminal enterprise — and months more for the FBI to collect enough evidence to break it up. Over the last few weeks, Erickson, Neiman and Chambers have pleaded guilty in federal court in connection with what prosecutors described as a "baby-selling ring." "
The pot was sweetened by more money that is normally offered. I know that some say that an all inclusive package often can offer a higher fee then average however the payments are meant to be monthly and not in a lump sum. Even those women who questioned the process were told by trusted reproductive attorneys that it was all legal and therefore believed!
"Albaugh, then 34, was also comforted to learn that another prospective surrogate, 29-year-old Kimberley Schooley from Missouri, would be flying to Ukraine with her.
Schooley, a grocery store cashier with five children, had also tried surrogacy for another couple and failed. "I was super-excited to go," she said.
Her mother, a nurse, warned her that the arrangement didn't sound right, but Schooley said, "I researched [Erickson] on the Internet and found tons of articles ranting and raving about the work she does.""
Yes, there was (and probably still are) "tons of articles" on the great work Theresa Erickson has done. Her radio show was well respected and she was a sought after speaker at conferences and seminars within the Infertility Feild. What was not to trust?
But here we are talking about suckering women into the sale of babies they were carrying..human trafficking. It is far from surrogacy in so many ways but yet these women thought they were, indeed, surrogate mothers. They were told that they would be surrogates for Intended Parents...people who thought they were not buying a baby but saving a surrogacy arrangement. They signed 'surrogate agreements' and told their families that they were Gestational Surrogates. Told their husbands, their kids, their own mothers and fathers, their friends.
I can't help but feel sick at the plea bargain of wire fraud. Really? This is SO much more!