theresa erickson

Surrogacy Lawyer Theresa Erickson Sentenced

On Friday, a judge sentenced Erickson to 5 months in prison, 9 months of home confinement and to pay a $70,000 fine for her role in masterminding a scheme to create babies and sell them (for more than $100,000 each) to couples after falsely telling them that the original parents had backed out for whatever reason.

I’ve written about Erickson and her baby-selling case here and here, and I am still disgusted and dismayed by her behavior.  As one loathsome phrase in the article pointed out, Erickson and her cohorts

used numerous surrogate mothers to create an inventory of unborn babies that they would sell for more than $100,000 each

When I first read about her arrest and the unfolding story, I was shocked and disgusted.  Now, I’m angry.  Surrogacy is defined and treated legally differently in different states.  Case law, as  you can imagine, has not kept up with reproductive law when one can biologically be mother to a child through pregnancy but not be genetically related to that child.  Such a situation becomes even more complicated when neither member of a couple is genetically related to a child they create and carry through a surrogacy arrangement.  What a lot of courts end up falling back on is intent: who intends to parent the resulting child(ren)?  Thinking of the situation in these terms often allows judges to assign legal rights to the parents who intend to parent the child regardless of genetic relationship.

Erickson’s crime, however, perverts this intention for she intentionally created children for no other reason than profit.  The embryos she created and transferred to a gestational carrier have neither mothers nor fathers.  They had no parents who intended for them to be, and for that, Erickson should be punished.  Though those children may be loved purely and fully by their new families, it is painful to imagine their reaction when one day they are told that they were the result of not lust, not love, not intention or desire but profit.

And it is that for which Erickson must be punished and shunned.

The Theresa Erickson Scandal from the Point of View of a Surrogacy Participant

News broke yesterday that Theresa Erickson, prominent reproductive lawyer, pleaded guilty to being part of a baby-selling ring. She sent women overseas to undergo IVF with donor sperm and eggs and then once they were in the second trimester, she found parents for the babies, telling the parents that the original Intended Parents had backed out, charging them between $100,000-150,000 for the privilege of obtaining these babies. Apparently, she did this for years.

It is disgusting. Others in the IF blogosphere have written eloquently on the topic, especially since they had been recent guests on Erickson’s show: Keiko and Mel for example. However, I felt compelled to post on this topic since I am a parent thanks to gestational surrogacy.

While I have never met or been in contact with Theresa Erickson, her name as well as another lawyer charged in the ring, Hilary Neiman, are very familiar to me, especially around surrogacy issues. Surrogacy is like adoption in that it requires a lot of legal documents and processes to be followed. In NC, we needed a contract with our gestational carrier before we started IVF. Once we achieved a viable pregnancy, we needed a Pre-Birth Order (PBO) so that our names could go on the birth certificate from the beginning. Neither document guaranteed that we would go home with our baby, but based on our state’s nebulous laws, it gave us a place to start in case litigation was needed.

I cannot imagine what the couples who worked with Erickson to obtain these babies must be feeling now that the truth of their babies’ births has been revealed. How are they going to explain their origin to their children when they are old enough? When you go through infertility treatments and/or work with others to build your family, you rely on these experts to guide you and to keep you safe. You are putting your hopes and dreams in their hands. Theresa Erickson has violated this trust, this sacred relationship, and that is a horrible thing.

Theresa Erickson has also returned surrogacy and adoption to stereotypical Lifetime movie of the week status. Yes, we infertiles are so desperate that we will believe anything and be willing to buy a baby at any cost. And it hurts because she knows better. She was supposed to be our ally and help us legally obtain the families we desired but instead, she played upon our need and pain.

I am extremely thankful that all of the people we dealt with while trying to add to our family were beyond reproach from doctors to lawyers, but it saddens me, no it infuriates me that there are people like Erickson out there who succumb to greed and break laws, in the process hurting people and giving infertility a bad rap.

Theresa Erickson, you should be ashamed of yourself.