In Memory of Lost Moms

by Kallie Fell, Executive Director on May 14, 2020

Mother’s Day is a special time to pay tribute to that beautiful soul that gives life. I am blessed to have three strong mothers in my life: the beautiful woman that gave birth to me, my fierce and fiery sister (whom often acts as my second mother), and my sweet mother-in-love. All three of these women are dear to my heart! I hope that you had the opportunity to celebrate all of the mother’s in your life this week.

Unfortunately, for some, Mother’s Day can be a day of mourning. Perhaps this year you celebrated a life that is no longer with us on earth. If so, my heart goes out to you. This year, Aaron and his two sons had to celebrate their second Mother’s Day without their beloved Crystal. Crystal passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 from complications related to premature labor from a surrogacy pregnancy.

We learned about Crystal’s death through another surrogate mother:

“Crystal Wilhite was a surrogate in my surrogacy therapy group hosted by the Center for Surrogate Parenting (CPS). She passed away in February 2017 from complications after going into preterm labor for a surrogate pregnancy. Following a blood transfusion, she received after bleeding, she was discharged from the hospital earlier than she wanted, as she was still not feeling 100%, and then died at home from an embolism or blood clot.

I have to speak about this anonymously because I learned about Crystal’s death and the circumstances surrounding it at one of the CPS group therapy meetings, and from emails sent around by CPS to all of us surrogates used by them. CPS made it very clear that we were not allowed to publicly speak about Crystal’s death, and so I fear that CSP–one of the biggest surrogate agencies in California– will sue me if I speak publicly and identify myself.”

It is not surprising to hear that Crystal was sent home early after giving birth prematurely.  A surrogate pregnancy, with the additional risk of premature birth, is very expensive causing intended parents worry over being responsible for additional medical bills. Also, the fertility agency, worried about bottom line success stories, wants women to be sent home as soon as possible so that they can report uncomplicated pregnancies to potential intended parents.  

Prioritizing money saved and profits made is all too common in surrogacy arrangements.   Melissa Cook, a commercial gestational surrogate in California was carrying triplets and asked by the intended father to reduce her pregnancy or terminate her pregnancy due to the high costs of her high-risk pregnancy.  Toni Bare, a commercial gestational surrogate in Iowa was told by the intended mother, she had to seek permission to go to the doctor, because they want to incur more expenses.  Jessica Allen, a commercial gestational surrogate, who accidentally gave birth to her OWN child, along with a Chinese baby, was told she would have to pay money back to the Chinese intended parents , who paid for, two babies but only got one, and also to pay money back to the agency who cared for her child for two months until returning her baby.  It’s all about the money and not the health and wellbeing of women and children.  

Just two days before her death, Crystal posted a photo on her Facebook page of her hand and arm lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to a blood transfusion.  Her caption reads, “Never been on the receiving end before…#ThankYouForDonating”. 

A family friend wrote the day after Crystal died, “How is it possible? My friend’s daughter Crystal passed away yesterday . . . Crystal was a surrogate mother for someone else and something went wrong with the pregnancy.  She died doing something for someone else.  My heart is broken.”

The fertility industry and the fertility doctors know the real risks of a surrogate pregnancy, but they were willing to risk Crystal’s life, and silence those who would speak out, in order to protect their bottom line. May we remember Crystal’s family this week. May we remember all of the lives that have been exploited by the surrogacy industry. 

In honor of the mothers lost during surrogacy arrangements, would you sign our petition to #StopSurrogacyNow

The CBC has also produced a 45-minute documentary showing how exploitive the fertility industry, or as we like to say #BigFertility, really is. This documentary tells the story of Kelly Martinez. Kelly was threatened with financial ruin after nearly dying during her third surrogacy. But each of her surrogacy journeys had a price to pay. Kelly’s story exemplifies everything that is wrong with the distorted version of fertility medicine that is Big Fertility. It truly is all about the money. You can view this film free on Amazon Prime

Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy? Our website has many different resources including these two fact sheets: 

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