While most women wouldn’t take a stand for a child that wasn’t legally their own, Crystal Kelley is a mom who strongly believes that every child deserves a fighting chance at life… and won’t let anything or anyone change her values.
Earlier this month, we learned of a gay couple who are fighting to bring their “triplings” home from Mexico, after running into trouble with their surrogates and unfair laws. Surrogacy can be a challenging topic when it comes to unique family situations like the one Kelley found herself in, but she hopes her decision helps other women do the right thing.
Kelley told PEOPLE she felt confident when she first met the couple who asked her to be their surrogate in 2011. She saw they were great parents to their three children and felt compelled to help when she saw how emotional they became about wanting another baby.
But being a mom herself, Kelley had a problem with a clause in her surrogacy contract that gave the couple the right to order an abortion at any time. She told PEOPLE she wanted to take out the clause completely but agreed to abortion only if an ultrasound showed the child to have such severe birth defects that would lead to guaranteed death.
“I thought there was such a small chance that anything was going to happen,” she said. “I absolutely regret that. It’s tough to think back on.”
Everything was going well until about 4.5 months into the pregnancy when Kelley found out she was carrying a girl, but doctors revealed the baby likely had a heart defect. She then got the called she never expected. “We have had preemies and we know what challenges preemies face and we really don’t want to bring another disabled baby into the world,” the mother told her.
Yet because her own daughter was born with a heart defect and recovered, Kelley decided she wasn’t going to terminate the pregnancy, even after a judge ordered her to and doctors warned she would suffer in life.
The Connecticut-based mom then packed up her kids and moved to Michigan, where she would have parental rights and soon became friends with a mother who adopted other children. When Kelley asked her to be the mother of the unborn baby, the woman agreed, and the baby’s father finally gave up rights.
Today, PEOPLE reports that “Baby S” is 3 years old and “an outspoken kid in her own little way,” according to her surrogate mother.
“You have to listen to your gut and by listening to my gut, I was proven right,” Kelley, who wrote a book about her experience and has since become an advocate for ‘unwanted’ babies.
“Everything that I believed she would be, she is. She’s alive, she’s capable, she’s growing and learning and doing things that normal toddlers do.”
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