And I mean nobody. Some of you may be familiar with the procedure known as "surrogacy," in which an infertile couple hires a surrogate to have a baby. This arrangement is enshrined in law and usually goes well. What usually happens is that either the egg or the sperm is implanted in the surrogate's uterus, where the fetus grows and the baby is delivered.
Now, this Florida couple had a successful surrogacy already - they had a boy born of a surrogate mom. So they tried again. And look what happened.
In a nutshell, the surrogate didn't sign the papers, didn't give up the baby, and is now suing the couple who hired her, for child support.
Can you believe that? Here's the story.
Birth Battle: Couple Says Surrogate Mom Won't Give Up Baby
By Grayson Kamm
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A couple paid a First Coast woman to have their child because they couldn't conceive on their own. Now, they say she won't give them the baby.
The Lamitinas say they had a great experience having a surrogate mom give birth to their two-year-old son TJ, so they were thrilled to try it again. Through a website, they found and hired a surrogate mother from Jacksonville.
But they say this fairy tale turned foul.
Last year, the couple says it signed a "surrogacy contract" with the Jacksonville woman. But they say since they trusted her, they never checked to see if she signed the document.
Then, two months into the pregnancy, the family says their surrogate started asking strange questions. "Personal questions, like how much money I made doing this, doing that. And then how much money I made at the end of the year," Tom remembered. "My first surrogate never asked me how much money I made."
And then, a letter arrived from the surrogate mother's lawyer.
It says this case is now a "child support issue."
"We didn't think anybody would be that low to use a child as a way to scam people out of money. That's pretty -- I mean -- I just didn't think anybody would be that low," Tom said.
We went to the mother's home in Argyle Forest looking for answers. As we did, a woman sped away. In the back of her minivan was what looked like the handle of a baby's car seat.
At the doorstep, a hand reached out from inside the house and stuck a sign on the front door. It said "No comment," and suggested we contact the surrogate mother's attorney.
So we did.
The surrogate's lawyer, Kelly Hampton, declined an on-camera interview, but said over the phone, "Under the laws of the State of Florida, surrogacy is like adoption. The surrogate mom has the option to keep the baby."
We asked, "Is she asking for child support?" The attorney said, "I'm not going to answer that."
Both sides agreed to a DNA test. A document provided to First Coast News by the Lamitinas showed the test was performed by a company on the First Coast and that the test determined a 99.9999 percent probability that Tom Lamitina is the baby's father.
Tom says the surrogate did cash their $1,500 deposit check.
But still, the couple says the surrogate, who provided the egg, never signed that contract. To them, the motive's clear.
"Fraud. Very fraudulent," Gwyn said. "It's almost like extortion... I have the baby, and you have to do what I want."
The Lamitinas' attorney says he plans to go to court soon, filing a suit to give the family full custody of the baby.
Every day, more and more people learn the hard way about the fucked up laws governing child support and custody.
UPDATE May 26, 2007: http://www.news4jax.com/news/13386918/detail.html
"Here is a clip that updates the situation. She has filed for full custody of the baby and is asking for child support, life insurance, health insurance and stating that the father would not provide a safe environment. What a load. They are awesome parents. Apparently, she had the baby 2 weeks ago and she named her. That is hard because they gave her a different name then what the IP's are referring to her as. Of course she would not use the same name but it just makes this all the more terrible and heartbreaking."
From the article: "They would have to balance the best interest of the child and decide where the child goes, but whoever doesn't have the child the other party is going to have to pay child support," Shorstein said.