I heard a story this week that I can’t shake off. It’s probably one of the most extreme cases of how two humans can bond in adversity that I can imagine.
A professional surrogate mother in the USA makes an agreement with a woman, on the other side of the world in Austria, to carry her baby. This baby has no genetic link to the surrogate or woman who has contracted her: it was conceived by both donor egg and donor sperm. At 20 weeks pregnancy, the mother-to-be stops responding to emails and texts. At 33 weeks the surrogate mother goes into premature labour, and while the baby girl survives, this woman loses her uterus. There is still no sign of the mother – she has disappeared without trace.
The surrogate is left with a choice: to give the baby up for adoption, to put the baby into care, or to keep it. The international laws on surrogacy are complex and inchoate. She had no plans whatsoever for another child and had spent her pregnancy thinking she would hand this baby over – just as she had before on previous occasions. The surrogate mother’s two children made the choice for her: to keep her. She loves her daughter now and clearly doesn’t regret keeping her. But what an incredible journey they took together.