We are Paul (50) and Chantele Montover (49), from Iowa, once high school sweethearts, who rekindled our relationship years later, after both being divorced. We each have had children from those previous marriages, but desired to have a child of our own. Because we could not medically do this, we decided to use a surrogate to carry our biological child for us. This is where our dream to gain a precious new member of our family, went terribly wrong.
After months of searching for a surrogate, we found a woman who we believed to be the perfect one. We both spent numerous days with the surrogate and her husband. Her husband and Paul are both ex military, and she presented herself to be an extremely trusting and compassionate woman. We truly felt as if we could trust these people with the tremendous task of carrying our child until they were safe in our arms. To further our trust, we arranged an understanding that in return for giving us this gift, we would return the favor and help to financially support their own In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure, so that they too could have a child of their own, because they could not medically become pregnant either.
We went through with the IVF procedure and implanted two embryos. Days after this procedure took place, we began to see warning signs that led us to believe this may have been a scam. The surrogate cut off all contact with us, changed her phone number and email, while also blocking us on all social media. As well as denied access to all ultrasound visits, stripping us of the opportunity to see our child grow. All that we knew was that this woman was carrying our child and for months we had no idea if they were safe, or what her plan was.
We contacted every authority that we could possibly think of, but every step seemed to come to a dead end. We gained an incredible team of attorneys, who have helped us in every way possible. Through the help of a private investigator we uncovered numerous troubling facts about the surrogate that made us more concerned for the safety of our child. When the surrogate did finally reach out, it was only to make numerous threats of harming our child if money was not provided to her. All of this combined, we were left fearing the worst for our child.
Our original due date was December 11th of 2016 and because of this we had no reason to suspect that our baby would be born yet. But on October 30th of 2016, we learned that the surrogate had given birth to two baby girls. We rushed to the University of Iowa hospital seeking any information that we could find.
We also learned that due to imprecise reasons, they were both delivered on August 31st 2016, at only 25 weeks along. As a result of this premature birth and multiple complications, one of our girls, Baby E, had passed away at only eight days old. While our other daughter, Baby K, did survive, it was not without its hardship. She went through many surgeries and blood transfusions. Her well being was uncertain for months. To this day we feel tremendous guilt that Baby E could not have the love of her parents or family there with her as she passed, nor did Baby K have us for two months while she laid in her hospital room. This is something that the surrogate took from us that can never be replaced.
Before we knew our daughters had been born, the surrogate took the liberty of making medical decisions, naming both of our daughters, as well as assigning birth certificates to both of them. She applied for social security cards and received social security benefits, as well as stating that herself and her husband are the parents when in fact they have no biological relation at all. On top of all of this, they had Baby E cremated without our knowledge. She was given no respect in this. They provided no ceremony or burial plot. When we finally made contact with the surrogate in a court setting, we had mentioned that we would have given Baby E a proper burial, she visibly laughed at us, showing absolutely no respect for the children or us.
Fortunately, we obtained a court ruling stating that we have full custody, that she is in fact not the mother of our daughters, and directed the return of the cremated remains of our Baby E, among other things related to birth. However, the surrogate continues to appeal these decisions and refuses to return the remains, because she has already spread the ashes at an unknown location. Again, stripping us of ever having the opportunity to cherish our daughter.
She has hired a high profile attorney from the east coast to represent her, along with multiple local attorneys, leaving many wondering where she is obtaining these funds. Of course, we were forced to hire our own attorneys to assert our rights as parents and to obtain custody of our surviving daughter. Though we have succeeded so far, months of these fees and numerous medical bills have put a great financial strain onto us, on top of the already traumatic events that have taken place.
We are posting this because we want our story to be heard. There are countless stories of families that exist because of surrogacy. We are fighting for that right on behalf of Baby K and Baby E, but we are also fighting for everyone else whose only option for a genetic child is surrogacy. We are not willing to stop our fight in finding justice for our daughters, but we ask that if you find value in this fight, please help us continue. Any donations, shares, thoughts or prayers would be greatly appreciated.
- Frida Modiano
- L C