By Caroline Graham
January 3, 2015
Millionaire businessmen Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow present themselves as the poster boys of British surrogate parenting.
But for one surrogate the decision to work with their British Surrogacy Centre (BSC) has proved to be disastrous.
The Drewitt-Barlows were the first gay couple named on a surrogate baby’s birth certificate and went on to have four more children, set up their surrogacy agency and star in reality show The Parent Makers.
But 5,000 miles away in San Diego, Megan Hoffner claims she has been left £60,000 in debt, stands on the brink of losing her home and is embroiled in a legal fight which has taken her to the edge of financial ruin.
It is a complicated tale mired in claim and counter-claim from which no one emerges unscathed.
‘This whole process has been a disaster,’ she says.
‘The low point for me was going into hospital for an emergency Caesarean section and waking up to find nobody would tell me if the twins I was carrying were alive or dead. I still have nightmares and anxiety attacks to this day.’
Megan, a 35-year-old mother of two, had successfully been a surrogate to twin girls for a Spanish family when, at the end of 2013, she decided to become a surrogate again.
She said: ‘I wanted to bring the joy of children to a family who might not otherwise experience that happiness. You get paid to be a surrogate, but this was never about making money.’
She added: ‘The British Surrogacy Centre leapt out at me. Barrie and Tony sounded like remarkable men. I got in touch with their local office in LA. I thought I was in for another magical journey. Instead it turned into the worst experience of my life.’
At first, Megan says, all went well. She signed a 24-page surrogacy agreement on November 21 2013 in which she agreed to bear a child (or multiple children) for Marco Aurelio Lucas and Roberto De Souza Silva. Megan is coldly referred to as ‘Carrier’ throughout.
The document says Megan will be paid £22,500 for one child – with childcare, lost wages, medical bills and ‘extra baby’ clauses built in – and an extra £5,000 for twins.
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