Health

Surrogate Mother Refused To Abort Baby With Disorder

| by Zara Zhi
Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl with DelaneyAndrea and Keston Ott-Dahl with Delaney

When Andrea Ott-Dahl offered to be a surrogate mother to a couple from California's Silicon Valley, she got an unexpected surprise.

She and her partner, Keston Ott-Dahl, already had children, but Andrea was showing signs of fertility problems. Nonetheless, she had been successfully impregnated.

In 2012, two months into her pregnancy, Andrea’s NT scan showed the fetus alive and kicking.

“They were watching her on the scan kicking and spinning. They were excited, they were planning the baby’s future,” Keston told Independent Journal Review.

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But before the couples could celebrate, the doctor returned with some troubling news.

“The doctor said, 'I don’t know what your education level is with chromosomal abnormalities, but this is generally where people terminate. I think she has Down syndrome,'” says Keston.

Andrea and Keston wanted to confirm that the baby -- nicknamed “peanut” -- had the disorder, so they met with a genetic counselor.

“She did have Down syndrome and we were also told the baby could have a severe deformity. She could have autism, she could be blind. And a list of other things,” she says.

But what happened next was even more heartbreaking. The couple who had commissioned Andrea to be their surrogate mother, wanted her to terminate the pregnancy.

"The intended mothers didn’t want the baby and told us it was their choice to terminate, and their choice alone," says Keston.

The Ott-Dahls disagreed with the adoptive parents and “told them, ‘The decision is whether you want to keep this child or not, but it’s not your decision whether or not to terminate this child,’” she told People magazine.

The adoptive mothers momentarily threatened to sue to force Andrea to abort the baby, which was unsuccessful. "Basically, we decided we were going to save Peanut," Keston told People magazine. "We couldn’t give up this baby. We knew we were doing the right thing."

"A lot of people share this same story," says Keston. "It's almost like we didn’t have a choice to terminate, but now we know we actually do have a choice."

Although medical experts predicted the child would not survive, Delaney defied the odds, according to Independent Journal Review.

The Ott-Dahls wrote a book, "Saving Delaney" about their experiences.

“We don’t treat Delaney any differently. We don’t treat her as if she has a disability. We treat her the same, we play with her the same. Delaney is on target developmentally with anyone who doesn’t have her disability.”

Delaney, now 2 years old, is communicating in five-word sentences, even though many kids with Down syndrome are non-verbal and don’t usually speak until around 5 years of age.

Sources: Independent Journal Review, People / Photo credit: Ott-Dahl Family via People

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