A young stay-at-home mom from New Brunswick, Cathleen Hachey was 27-weeks pregnant during her last surrogacy when the British couple she'd found through the Surrogate Mothers Online website dropped her after their marriage ended suddenly. They told her by text message.
Despite having no lawyer or fertility doctor to advise her, 20-year-old Hachey was able to find an adoptive home for the twins she was carrying. But the episode highlights the vulnerability of surrogates in Canada.
"Here's a lovely, trusting young woman who should have taken care of herself," said Sherry Levitan, a Toronto-based fertility lawyer. "The law is there for a reason."
Although there was a contract in place -- albeit drawn up by the British couple -- the babies were found to be Hachey's responsibility because her egg had been used in the conception (the British mom suffered from polycystic ovarian syndrome). It's a method of surrogacy experts now frown upon, as it is too fraught with potential complications.
"They were my biological children so they were my biological problem," said Hachey who already had two youngsters of her own. "It was hard. If I was in a better position, I would have kept them."
Under the current legislation, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC), Hachey was acting illegally. Surrogates must be over 21 years of age and mustn't accept payment for carrying someone else's baby. Since the act was passed in 2004, there have been 20 reported infringements reported.
As for the young mom, one hopes she's learned her lesson. Once bitten, twice shy. Or maybe not.
"[Next time] I'll have my own lawyer. I'll have a lot of stipulations in the contract to protect myself," said Hachey, who plans to start another surrogacy in January. She claims she would choose surrogacy as a "lifelong job" if she could, to help those who are unable to conceive.
Now here's someone who obviously loves being pregnant. Do you think she's crazy or amazingly altruistic?