Surrogacy makes for a perilous path to parenthood

Alan Zarembo and Kimi Yoshino :

Not even jail could keep Nanette Delp out of the surrogacy business.
In 2006, she was arrested on allegations that she stole tens of thousands of dollars from couples who had paid her to find women to carry their babies, according to court records.
While she was behind bars awaiting trial in Sacramento, she continued to sign up more couples, using a new business name and a new website, state records show. Ultimately, she was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading no contest to seven counts of grand theft.
In the surrogacy industry, there are no consumer guarantees. A website is not a professional license — in fact, there is no such thing. Even in California, widely considered the friendliest place in the world for people seeking surrogates, contracts tend to favor the broker agencies, not the clients.
Signing with an agency is frequently an act of faith, sometimes with bitter results. Often, aspiring parents must pay the entire bill — $50,000 or more — in advance. The money is nonrefundable, placing them at the mercy of the agency.
In recent days, Modesto-based SurroGenesis and Beverly Hills-based B Coming have been accused by attorneys or through lawsuits of misusing more than $2.5 million in clients’ funds — in some cases without ever helping couples choose a surrogate or conceive a child.