Surrogate Mother 'Tricked' Into Pregnancy
Calls involvement in baby-selling scheme “shameful”
By Tony Shin
A surrogate mother who helped expose a baby-selling attorney in North County believes she was “tricked” into breaking the law.
The woman doesn't want to reveal her last name or where she lives, but she does want others to know exactly what happened.
Heather, the surrogate mother, thought the attorneys in charge of her pregnancy were credible.
"If Theresa Erickson and Hilary Neiman are involved it's legit," Heather said.
Heather said she and other surrogates were flown to the Ukraine for an embryo transfer and told that a set of parents had already been chosen for the babies.
“We were told that in writing by an attorney that what we were doing was legal, why would we question that?"
But Heather and the other women eventually found out that there weren't any prior arrangements with intended parents.
“I felt trapped what can I do now, I'm pregnant, it's not like I can just back out and decide not to work with them."
Prosecutors said it is against the law to implant an embryo before an arrangement is made with intended parents.
Instead, Erickson and Neiman were shopping the babies around to get the highest price, as much as 150 thousand dollars for each newborn.
"No one should ever have to pay that amount for a baby. They were victimized, and it sickens me that someone can sleep at night after a family pays that much money. It's not right."
During her pregnancy, Heather worked with the FBI in the case against Erickson and Neiman. But despite helping bring them to justice, she still feels a sense of guilt.
“Shame on me for trusting two attorneys in the surrogacy world, shame on me and shame on them."
Erickson, Neiman and another woman named Carla Chambers have already pleaded guilty and are now awaiting sentencing.
Heather hopes these crimes don't hurt the positive image people may have about surrogacy.