It sounds too bizarre to be true, but a Californian couple had to travel to a New York court to gain custody of a baby boy who shared their DNA, but was born to another woman. In what family law attorney Eric Wrubel called an ‘unprecedented’ case, the genetic material was allegedly put into the womb of another woman during an IVF procedure at a Los Angeles clinic. In fact, the woman, from Queens, New York, was implanted with two embryos that were neither related to her or each other. She gave birth to the two boys in March.
In May, the New York County Supreme Court judge decided the babies should be returned to their biological parents within 2 days.
“Both parties broke into sobbing quite a bit and it was a huge emotional release”, Wrubel said.
That gave Anni and Ashot Manukyan just 48 hours to prepare and shop for a baby most parents have months to plan for. Wrubel also represented the family of the second baby boy, who wish to remain anonymous.
The Manukyans relied on the New York couple, who were giving up the babies, to provide the infant’s sleeping and feeding schedule, formula type, social security card and medical records. They then bought a portable crib, sheets, the correct formula and other baby items.Read more about maternity and paternity testing after IVF
One of the worst fertility center tragedies in US history
Both the California and New York couples are suing the IVF clinic
Last month, the New York couple filed a federal suit in the Eastern District of New York accusing the CHA Fertility Center in Los Angeles of medical practice, negligence, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Manukyans then filed their own suit in the LA County Superior Court, citing the same accusations.
“CHA put three families through a living hell, and our lives will never be the same”, said Ashot at a news conference.
The Manukyans’ attorney, Adam Wolf, called this “one of the worst fertility center tragedies in US history”.
“The number of things that went wrong here is just plain staggering”, Wolf said, adding that he has handled his fair share of fertility cases. “And yet this case is among the most egregious I have ever seen.”
The New York couple, who are Korean-American, said the two boys they gave birth to were not of Asian descent. DNA testing proved that the boys were not a genetic match to the couple. In a further twist, the two male babies were not genetically related to each other. The couple then relinquished custody.
The Manukyans said they first met their son, who they’ve named Alec, in a hotel lobby. The couple said they paid $120,000 in IVF procedures, fees, other fertility-related costs and to investigate CHA’s misconduct.
“CHA robbed me of my ability to carry my own child, my baby boy”, said Anni. “To be with him in the first couple moments of his life. To nurse him. To do skin-on-skin contact. To, you know, just be a mom to him.”
Anni said she is also angry at the clinic on the New York mother’s behalf. “Why did you do that to her? What is she going through right now? We are all victims of CHA.”
No one at the clinic has so far been able to answer any of the questions.
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