Surrogate Mom Who Kept Baby With Down Syndrome Says Toddler Is Hitting Milestones

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 2:57 PM

In January two thousand thirteen, two months into the pregnancy, doctors told the couple, who live in Antioch, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, that the child, whom they'd already named Delaney, would be born with Down syndrome, the couple told ABC News.

Surrogate Mom Who Kept Baby With Down Syndrome Says Toddler Is Hitting Milestones

Andrea Ott-Dahl said she was more than pleased to serve as surrogate to her friends who were having trouble getting pregnant, but she and her wife, Keston Ott-Dahl, were unaware that it'd modify their lives forever.

In January two thousand thirteen, two months into the pregnancy, doctors told the couple, who live in Antioch, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, that the child, whom they'd already named Delaney, would be born with Down syndrome, the couple told ABC News.

"When the Dr came in, the four of us, I'd declare we were in shock," said Keston, fifty. "We were devastated. Andrea was catatonic. The doctors made it seems love Delaney was going to be blind [and] have autism. They said the fluid build-up on the back of her neck, it'd either murder her or there would be a severe deformity that'd see love another head. They told us she'd a five % chance of surviving up until birth."

"They successfully scared those two intended moms into wanting to terminate," Keston said.

Andrea, thirty-four, said she agreed to serve as surrogate for her two friends -- a lesbian couple who'd been having trouble getting pregnant for six years. Andrea donated the eggs for the pregnancy, making her the biological mother of Delaney.

"Our hearts went out to these women because we knew the joys of having a family," said Andrea, who's a mother to five children. "Finally, we got pregnant and everyone was happy, but at the twelve-week ultrasound, the Dr noticed the buildup of fluid behind the baby'south neck. He told us this would be Down syndrome, or worse."

Upon hearing the news of the diagnosis, the baby'south intended mothers decided they number longer wanted Andrea to move forward with the pregnancy, Keston said.

"They said, 'The decision to terminate is our decision alone,'" Keston recalled. "We decided we loved her [the baby] and that she was ours."

Andrea and Keston said they made it a point to start educating themselves on what it meant for a baby to have Down syndrome.

"Andrea and I sat for countless hours watching these videos," Keston said. "We saw kids that are actors, entrepreneurs, they obtain married ... they do things that any kids can do."

Michelle Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, agreed that there is still a stigma attached to people who are diagnosed with the genetic disorder. However, those growing up with Down syndrome can still live successful and fulfilling lives, she said.

“There are people with Down syndrome who are accomplishing these incredible things,” Whitten said. “Just see at TV. You've Lauren Pitter, who's one of the ongoing cast members in ‘Glee’; Jamie Brewer, who’s done three seasons of ‘American Horror Story’; Madeline Stuart from Australia is working it all over the world as a fashion model."

“The majority of people with Down syndrome, unfortunately, were institutionalized in this country -- many of them as infants," Whitten said. "These were by and large inhumane institutions where you were left in a room and didn’t obtain an education or medical care. I think [the stigma] comes from being afraid of the unknown, but we've more people with Down syndrome on television, in the local communities. My baby is 12 and she’s in a typical school. She’s made wonderful friends and she’s a respected portion of the community. There are challenges. She'd open-heart surgery when she was three months, but there are typical kids who have heart surgery when they're three months old, too.”

On Jan. twenty, two thousand thirteen, Andrea and Keston approached the intended mothers of the baby to notify them that they wanted to hold the baby as their own.

Keston said the intended mothers briefly threatened a lawsuit for Andrea to terminate the baby, but never pursued.

Lori Meyers, a partner of Meyers & O’Hara LLP who's specialized in surrogacy law for twenty years, said number person can file a lawsuit to terminate a pregnancy.

"There’s not a Ct of contract in the world or judge that'd force a surrogate mom to undergo a termination of a pregnancy simply because of something they sign," Meyer told ABC News. "There'south number 'specific performance' in the law. We’re not going to obtain a judge to demand an abortion because a woman has control of her own body. There may be financial ramifications because of that decision, but she's the right to control her own body below Roe vs. Wade."

Despite their conflict, Andrea and Keston said they keep number ill-will toward the intended mothers.

"From their perspective, I've to be kind of sensitive to them," Andrea said. "When you're trying to obtain pregnant for so long, it'south tough to be optimistic and look things with a fresh set of eyes. For Keston and I, this was our first go-around and I think that'south why we were so open to getting that research."

On July two, two thousand thirteen, Delaney Skye was born.

Besides having a heart defect that required a surgical operation, Delaney was born with number other health problems, her mothers said.

Now two years old, Delaney is making strides as a toddler.

"Delaney is amazing," Andrea said. "She'south love any typical 2-year-old. She likes getting into mischief and making messes. She loves to dance, all things Elmo, she loves playing with her siblings."

Keston added: "She hits every milestone. All this early intervention paid off. Right now, she'south talking in five-word sentences. A lot of the time kids with Down syndrome don't speak until they're five, or sometimes they don't speak at all."

Delaney'south legend has been shared across social media, as well as in a new memoir written by Andrea and Keston titled, "Saving Delaney: From Surrogacy to Family."

"We just wish to indicate parents out there -- you don't have to lose hope," Andrea said. "You don't have to terminate your child. Down syndrome is a label and that'south what society does. It determines what people can and can't do based on that label."

Andrea and Keston said they've received countless messages from parents of children with Down syndrome who've said Delaney'south legend has inspired them.

And despite their long journey, the couple said they wouldn't modify a thing.

"Honestly, we hit the lottery with Delaney," Keston said.

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