Lulled into a false sense of security by their first successful Traditional Surrogacy and while enjoying their life with their new son, Tom and Gwyn decide to add to their family using the same formula. They answer classified ads on Surrogate Mothers Online (SMO)to 'meet' a young woman with children of her own who would be willing to be their traditional surrogate mother.The perfect one came along and she even claimed to be an experienced gestational surrogate and egg donor! Tom and Gwyn state that they did the best background check that they could 'on their own', I read nothing of a psychological evaluation or a medical exam of this surrogate from an infertility clinic. (My own personal red flags) Because they never used an agency or an attorney with their first surrogacy they decided that downloading an 'Internet' contract and allowing their new surrogate fill in all the blanks would be good enough for them. (another red flag) Before the contract is signed by both parties, and in order to take advantage of their surrogates next cycle, they decide to participate in at home inseminations to boot! (This is the yet another red flag and I decided to stop counting here.)
Needless to say everything that could go wrong did. I started out by stating that the Lamitima's were lulled into a false sense of security with their first traditional surrogacy. These very same issues could have gone wrong at any point during their first experience but because they met a woman who had a moral compass and didn't want anything more then to give them a baby to love, the contract was never challenged unlike this second situation. Because the Lamitina's didn't want to spend the money on a reproductive attorney, clinic, or psychologist they ended up spending thousands more fighting for their baby daughter in the Florida court systems. There are checks and balances in place within the reproductive community and if you decide to skip the agency and go to the classifieds or even use a family member or friend there is a protocol to follow and Tom and Gwyn paid the price for not knowing or investigating the 'right' way to proceed after they chose the woman they wanted to work with.
The woman (traditional surrogate) portrayed here in this book would never have made it past an experienced agency. In fact, the reason SHE didn't sign on with an agency, it seems, was because she had a devious plan. She would become pregnant with some desperate and unknowing intended parents' baby, never planning to give it up at the end and then sue for child support. A cold hearted calculated scam that would only work on people who were uneducated in the ways of the surrogacy world. She, apparently, did her homework!
I feel that this short yet intense book is worth reading for any intended parent tempted to go the 'independent' route. The lessons learned for the Lamitina's experiences could save others a lot of money and heartache. Unfortunately this book paints a bad picture of Traditional Surrogates and those that want to be matched independently however there are ways to protect yourselves without an agency to assist in the process. Research, hiring a surrogacy consultant, making sure that you use a contract drawn up by a lawyer who is well versed in reproductive law in your state, having everyone visit a psychologist and staying away from at home inseminations are just a few of the ways that can assure a successful out come. Surrogacy or Conspiracy? The Lamitina Story can be read in one sitting but will stay with you for a long time after the book is laid on the shelf.