06 November 2017
ByAppeared in BioNews 925
Jessica Allen acted as a surrogate for a Chinese couple through an agency called Omega Family Global, based in San Diego, for a reported fee of US$35,000 – with an extra US$5000 provided for a second child. While receiving money for surrogacy beyond reasonable expenses is illegal in many US states and also in the UK, commercial surrogacy is permitted in California.
Allen underwent an embryo transfer procedure using the intended parents' embryo in 2016 but was soon told by doctors that she was carrying twins. She told the New York Post that she had assumed the embryo had split into identical twins and handed both children to the intended parents at birth. However, doubts about the genetic parentage of the children were raised after the intended mother noticed differences between the babies and sent photographs to Allen. DNA testing later showed that one of the children was Allen's genetic son, who is believed to have been conceived with her own partner in an extremely rare case of superfetation – the simultaneous occurrence of a second conception during pregnancy.
Speaking to the New York Post, Allen claimed that the surrogacy agency told her that someone else was looking after her genetic son and that the intended parents would be seeking compensation. She also claimed that there was talk about putting the child up for adoption, and that the agency informed her that she owed fees for the expense of caring for the child. Omega Family Global has disputed the allegations.
Allen instructed lawyers and said that the agency then agreed to waive the fees. The claim for compensation was also reportedly dropped. Allen was later handed her son by a caseworker from the agency.
In a statement Omega Family Global said that it 'takes great pride in the care, attention and support that is given to all surrogates', but that due to legal reasons, it could not discuss the allegations in any further detail.