Eight years ago, Crystal Kelley was hired to be a surrogate mother. Roughly halfway through her pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed that the unborn child had multiple birth defects. As a result, the unborn child’s biological family had wanted an abortion, People reports.
However, despite the family’s wants, Kelley refused to abort the child she was carrying, even though the family who hired her offered to pay her $10,000. It was then that Kelley moved away from Connecticut to Michigan and became Seraphina‘s legal parent.
However, soon after Seraphina was born, Rene and Thomas Harrell adopted her.
According to Rene, the conflict was whether or not she’d have a “meaningful life” despite her special needs. And as they would later find out, Seraphina would go on to live to see her 8th birthday despite being born with heterotaxy syndrome, holoprosencephaly, multiple heart defects, and two non-working spleens.
Seraphina had a “very meaningful and happy life,” Harrell told CNN.
In an interview with CNN, Melissa Brisman, an attorney who specializes in surrogacy, said that this particular case became the gold standard for future surrogacy cases. Now it must be agreed upon prior to conception what the steps should be taken should birth defects arise.
“People heard about this case, and they got scared about skipping steps. That’s good for the industry. What happened in this case is less likely to happen today. It could still happen, but it’s less likely,” Brisman explained.
Sadly, it was revealed on July 15 that Seraphina had passed away in the hospital after suffering a “combination of complications from a needed surgery and infection.” According to her obituary, she had celebrated her 8th birthday just three weeks earlier.
“That sounds like the beginning of a sad story, I know,” the obituary continued. “There is just no getting around acknowledging the heartache of those who love her the most, who truly weren’t ready to see her go. But truth is, sadness is not the defining sum of Seraphina’s story…love is.”
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