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A family in Pennsylvania who hired a surrogate to give birth to their fourth child is devastated because the birth mother is keeping them away from their would-be daughter.
Wanting to add to their family, Barbara and David set out to hire a surrogate. They specifically wanted to find a woman who was already happily married and gainfully employed. When they met 22-year-old Jamie and her husband Steven in 2008, they believed they had found their match. But then, things took a turn the couple never saw coming.
"I asked him straight out how he felt about his wife carrying another couple's baby. I asked him really personal questions," Barbara told People magazine. Jamie and Steven told the couple they weren't financially ready for children, and that they were saving up to buy their own home.
Three weeks later, the $15,000 surrogacy contract was signed and notarized. Shortly after, Jamie went in for the procedure to be inseminated with David's sperm. Much like a whirlwind romance, she soon announced that she was pregnant.
According to Barbara, the news of her pregnancy triggered a breakdown in communication with Jamie. First, at 12 weeks pregnant, she told them that she had separated from her husband. Then she informed them she could only speak to them late at night. Then weeks and months went by without Barbara or David hearing a word from Jamie, who was carrying their child.
The couple hired an attorney, who advised them to continue financially supporting the pregnancy so they would not be in breach of contract if the situation escalated to a court case. Dutifully, Barbara and David continued their support, hoping for a positive outcome.
They had been disappointed Jamie didn't want them at the birth, but were shocked to learn she gave birth to their child Jan. 27, 2009, without even telling them. Their daughter, Kaylee Grace, is now 7 and lives with Jamie while Barbara and David pay more than $450 a month in child support. For a while, the couple shared custody with the surrogate mom until Kaylee started school. Now the couple asserts that they have not seen their daughter in six months.
Barbara and David have estimated they've paid nearly $100,000 in legal fees attempting to settle the custody issue.
"When we first went to court, the judge said she didn't know what do with the contract," Barbara said. "We were told we can't make a contract on a human life."
Despite sharing custody and a therapist's recommendation in 2014 that Kaylee live with Barbara and David, when she began kindergarten in September, Barbara and David lost shared custody. Now they're only allowed weekend visitations twice a month by court order—and they say Jamie hasn't kept up her end of the bargain. They told People magazine that they haven't seen Kaylee since October 2015.
"I feel extremely sad that there is this life that I feel responsible for—and that I helped bring into this world—that I feel is being destroyed because of the custody and how the courts are handling the situation," Barbara said.