After discovering that one of the twin boys she gave birth to last year for a Chinese couple was her own biological child, a surrogate mother from California had to undergo a grueling ordeal just to be reunited with her son.
According to the New York Post, 31-year-old Jessica Allen already had two other children with her 34-year-old husband, Wardell Jasper, when she decided to become a surrogate in 2015 at Jasper’s suggestion. “I wanted to stay at home with my sons rather than return to my job as a senior caregiver, and we decided we’d put the money toward buying a house.”
Through San Diego-based agency Omega Family Global, she was soon matched with a Chinese couple, the Lius (names were changed), who chose an American surrogate since surrogacy is not legal in China. Based on the agreement, Allen was to carry the couple’s child in exchange for a monthly payout of $30,000. Stipulated in the contract were rules meant to be followed by the surrogate, which included abstinence from sexual intercourse unless she and her partner used protection, to which the couple adhered.
Six weeks after Allen underwent in vitro fertilization, she and the Lius were informed that she was actually carrying twins. The Chinese couple welcomed the news and increased the monthly installments that Allen received by $5,000 for the second child.
However, Allen lamented that during the pregnancy, she was not informed by the agency that the babies were actually in separate sacs. “As far as we were concerned, the transferred embryo had split in two and the twins were identical,” Allen said.
She noted that a key condition in the contract was not followed on December 12, the day of the delivery. Allen was supposed to be allowed to see the twins for an hour after their birth, but they were taken away from the operating room before she even had a chance to see them. “I didn’t even get a look at the babies when they were pulled out because it was done behind an opaque screen,” she said.
A few weeks later, she would receive a WeChat message from Mrs. Liu with a picture of the babies, saying: “They are not the same, right?” followed by, “Have you thought about why they are different?” Allen agreed that the boys did not look identical at all. While the infant named Mike certainly looked like an Asian child, she was convinced that the other, named Max looked like a mix of Caucasian and African-American, which is what Allen and Jasper are, respectively.
After conducting DNA tests, it was soon proven that the second child was indeed Allen’s biological son, as a result of an extremely rare situation called “superfetation.” Such an occurrence is defined as “the fertilization and the implantation of a second oocyte in a uterus already containing the product of a previous conception.” Since it involved the conception of an additional fetus during an established pregnancy, superfetation is considered to be different from “twinning” or “multiple gestations.”
Allen would later receive news from Omega that Max was left at the agency and that the Lius was expecting a compensation between $18,000 and $22,000. “Our first priority was getting back Max,” Allen said. “To my disgust, a caseworker from the agency lined up parents to adopt him and ‘absorb’ the money we owed the Lius. Or, if that didn’t work out, the Lius were thinking of putting Max up for adoption, as they were still his legal parents.”
Allen said the agency informed them that if they wanted to keep Max, they would be responsible for the bill. She also claimed that an Omega worker said she owed the agency an additional $7,000 for the expenses “incurred for the bureaucracy and for looking after our son.”
“We spent $3,000 on an attorney, and there was a lot of strained negotiation between us, our lawyer and Omega. It was an uphill battle, but the agency finally reduced the ‘fee’ we owed the Lius to zero.”
On February 5, following a court decision, Allen was finally reunited with Max, who the couple eventually renamed Malachi. “It’s now been nearly nine months since we got Malachi,” Allen said. “He’s beautiful. He’s healthy and his personality is hilarious. He loves his big brothers, is learning to walk and is starting to speak.”
Omega, who told the NY Post they would likely pay the Lius compensation out of its own funds, denied some of Allen’s allegations and said in a statement that the company “takes great pride in the care, attention, and support that is given to all surrogates who choose to embark on a journey with parents in their efforts of family completion”.
Feature Image via FaceBook / Allen Jessica