California Couple Shares Surrogate Story in Wake of Thailand Controversy
Keston, Andrea, and Delaney Ott-Dahl. Photo courtesy of the Ott-Dahls.
When news broke earlier this month about baby Gammy — the newborn with Down syndrome who was left (or kept) in Thailand with his surrogate mother while his intended adoptive parents returned to Australia with his twin sister — many were shocked. But not Keston and Andrea Ott-Dahl, a San Francisco couple who had a similar experience right here in America.
“We were not surprised, because it happened to us,” Keston, 48, told Yahoo Health. She’s referring to the roller-coaster ride she and her partner, Andrea, had in 2012, when Andrea agreed to be a surrogate for their friends, another lesbian couple who wanted a child but was having trouble conceiving. So she agreed to become impregnated with the sperm of their friends’ gay male friend, and they were off.
“I had no reservations about it,” Andrea, 32, told Yahoo Health, “because I’d already had two kids, and we were looking forward to the day when we’d have less responsibility. I just saw our friends who wanted this dream so badly, and I thought it would be easy for me.” Keston added, “We thought we were doing something wonderful.”
What wound up happening was unexpectedly heart-wrenching for everyone: A routine fetal exam revealed that the baby Andrea was carrying had Down syndrome, and doctors said the baby would most likely die due to a birth defect called cystic hygroma. The intended moms requested that Andrea abort the fetus. It was a scenario that had been discussed ahead of time, and it was even included in the legal contract drawn up between both parties. “We had said we’d terminate at their request for medical reasons,” Keston said. “But nobody ever thought we’d be in this situation.”
Delaney. Photo courtesy of the Ott-Dahls.
At first, Keston said, “I’m not proud of this, but I agreed. I was terrified of people [with Down syndrome], repulsed, and I sympathized with them for backing out.” Andrea, meanwhile, said that she dreaded terminating the pregnancy, because she’d had an abortion years before and it “weighed heavily” on her. Still, she would have gone along with the agreement if everyone had been on the same page. But when Keston told her she could not condone the abortion, Andrea said it was “the happiest day of my life” when they decided together that they would keep and raise the baby as their own.