Blog Post

Prominent Attorney Busted for Operating Surrogate-Baby Selling Ring

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist The American surrogacy industry is reeling after news broke that a high-profile California attorney who specialized in "non-traditional, third-party family building" was operating an elaborate baby-selling ring. According to ABC News, Theresa M. Erickson, Esq., 43, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after she was caught transmitting fake documents to the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego and falsifying information to couples whose babies were born through surrogates she recruited. Erickson had been operating an elaborate baby-selling scheme in which she and her two partners, Hilary Neiman, 32, a Maryland attorney, and Carla Chambers, 51, of Las Vegas, would take surrogates to the Ukraine where they were impregnated with embryos from donor sperm and eggs. After the women reached the second trimester, Erickson would offer the babies for adoption, saying the original parents backed out of the surrogacy. American couples, desperate for a child, would then pay her between $100,000 and $150,000 for the baby, with the surrogate getting $40,000. A total of 12 babies were sold before complaints from surrogates alerted the FBI to what was going on. "This case serves as a reminder to people who are desperate to have a child that you must be cautious," FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth told ABC News. According to Erickson's website, she was drawn to family formation law because of her own experience. "She initially discovered this area of family planning by choosing to become an egg donor for several couples who desperately wanted a child," her biography said. Erickson was well-known in the U.S., had her own radio show, and appeared several times on national television to discuss adoption and surrogacy. Ironically, in one television appearance, Erickson attacked the documentary, Eggsploitation, from the Center for Bioethics and Culture, because it accused the surrogacy industry of exploiting women. "As a former egg donor, and now a third-party reproductive specialist, I want to ensure that the absolute best practices are utilized for both the welfare of the egg donors and those parents of the egg donation,” she said. Erickson was fined $250,000 and was ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution to each of the 12 families who received a baby through her network. She will be sentenced on Oct. 28 and faces up to five years in prison. All of the children will remain with their adoptive families. The Catholic Church opposes traditional and gestational surrogacy primarily because it offends against the dignity of the child, the uniqueness of the mother-child relationship, and the sanctity of marriage, but also, as the Erickson case so sadly proves, because it treats women and children as commodities. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®