Surrogacy has hit the headlines again recently with the sad story of a woman claiming to be an independent surrogate who took advantage of a desperate couple. Benita and Mark Cutter advertised for a surrogate online and were contacted by Samantha Brown who offered to help them. The conwoman lied about being pregnant, going so far as sending the couple fake scans and updates on hospital appointments. Brown claimed over £8,000 worth of expenses then told the Cutters that she had been involved in a serious accident, sending them a photo of what she claimed to be their baby that had been stillborn.
Benita and Mark, like so many couples, were unable to conceive themselves, so turned to surrogacy to complete their family. They placed an advert online for a surrogate and were contacted by Brown. The couple travelled to Scotland to meet with Brown and her then partner, and stayed with them for four days, during which time Mark provided her with a daily sample of his semen for artificial insemination . After being assured by Brown that she was pregnant with their child, the couple agreed to compensate Brown for her out of pocket expenses over the coming months, which totalled £8,307.00. Brown sent them fake scan images and gave them updates on how the pregnancy was progressing. Suspicions were raised when Mark discovered the images she had sent them had come from Getty images, and then the couple were dealt the devastating blow that their child had died as a result of the accident. When the Cutter’s suspicions were confirmed by further false looking images, they reported the matter to the police.
This is a shocking example of how surrogacy arrangements that are not set up properly can go so horribly wrong. It saddens us to see how such vulnerable and desperate people have been taken advantage of by someone with such poor intentions. Stories like this damage public opinion about surrogacy and tell a very different story to the reality. Most surrogacy arrangements are positive stories of collaboration, support and honesty.
For a surrogacy journey to have a positive outcome for everyone involved, it is critical that all parties are open and upfront, and develop a strong and committed relationship that is based on trust and honesty. It is crucial to get the right legal and practical advice from the start and that everyone had a strong framework of support around them. As relationships develop and progress, dynamics can change and life can challenge the journey, so it is equally important to have strong support that extends past the initial stages.
When both intended parents and surrogates are well supported from the outset and all parties are confident that each others intentions are genuine, surrogacy can be a rewarding and fulfilling journey for everyone involved.
Intended parents can be very vulnerable when hoping to meet a surrogate, particularly as unfortunately there aren’t enough genuine surrogates here in the UK who have come forward. This tragic story is an insult to all of the amazing women who really are genuine and want nothing more than to help others have a family.
At Brilliant Beginnings, we do everything we can to ensure that our surrogates are well informed, well supported and have genuine motivations for becoming surrogates. We help all of our surrogates to understand what to expect by guiding them through a screening process that includes surrogacy preparation counselling, legal advice and medical records checks, as well as getting to know them really well, speaking to referees and meeting them face to face with their own wonderful families who are so important in supporting our surrogates on their amazing journey.
We also help our surrogates to meet like-minded intended parents by matching them on a personal basis so they will be able to form a strong relationship based on honesty, mutual trust and open communication, providing a solid bedrock for their journey. We match them with couples who have similar views on the important aspects of surrogacy and support them fully throughout the whole process, from helping to work out logistics for treatment, to offering emotional and practical support and making sure that all the pieces of the puzzle are talked through in advance so that there are as few surprises as possible along the way.