Surrogate mother's troubles concern lawyer

A Bathurst mother's experience with an informal surrogacy arrangement is troubling, according to a lawyer who specializes in reproductive technology.
A Bathurst mother's problems to be a surrogate mother will not stop her attempting to help more couples in the future 2:35

A Bathurst mother’s experience with an informal surrogacy arrangement is troubling, according to a lawyer who specializes in reproductive law.

Cathleen Hachey, 20, agreed to have a child for a British couple whom she had met online. She became pregnant with twins, but the couple split up and told her 27 weeks into her pregnancy that they no longer wanted the babies.

Sherry Levitan, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in reproductive law, said no one should become a surrogate mother without a pre-conception contract.

"I think that she was one of those lovely Maritime women who are simply too trusting," Levitan said.

"I think she should have, and I hope that she will in the future, take care of herself and make sure that she is protected. It would have been relatively simple to protect her in this situation."

Cathleen Hachey, 20, was told 27 weeks into a pregnancy that a British couple were pulling out of a surrogacy arrangement. (CBC)
Levitan said it is illegal to pay someone in Canada to be a surrogate mother, but there are no limits on the expenses that can be covered for the mother.

The twin infants are now with a family in Nova Scotia, which intends on adopting them.

Hachey, who also has two of her own children, became interested in being a surrogate mother and started investigating the process online and eventually came into contact with the British couple.

When a surrogate parent backed out on that couple, they came to Canada and visited Hachey in the northern New Brunswick city.

While in Bathurst, the couple and Hachey decided to try and get pregnant. The conception was not done in a clinic, but at home with a syringe and semen from a cup.

Hachey said the surrogacy deal was not done for money, and she received only a regular $200 allowance for food.

However, Levitan said there are "almost always problems when people go through the independent route."

Instead, the lawyer advised other women considering surrogacy to consult a physician and a lawyer so it is guaranteed that they will be taken care of during the process.

Sherry Levitan, a Toronto lawyer, said independent surrogacy arrangements often lead to problems. (CBC)
Hachey was told 27 weeks into her pregnancy, by a text message, that the British couple were splitting up and would not accept the twins.

Levitan said that it is very rare for the parents waiting for a child to back out of an agreement.

"I've been practising in this field for 20 years now and this is the first time that I've ever heard of intended parents not coming to collect their children," she said.

"In fact, it is the opposite that we worry about. We worry that the surrogate is not being willing to give up custody of the child. Intended parents in the infertility sector are the most dedicated and motivated group that you can imagine."