BUENOS AIRES - B.M. is a year and a half old. The cups and paper napkins on the coffee table interest her far more than the rubber ducky her parents offer. The coffee table commotion ends with a baby bottle, a pacifier, and a small nap in the arms of mamá.
The three of them (mom, dad, and baby) are happy, radiant. Of course they are: last month, the legal battle ended that now allows these parents to finally register the birth of the baby as their own. It is the first court ruling ever on "surrogate motherhood" in Argentina, a relationship that has now been incorporated to the new Civil Code, which is still awaiting approval.
As it turns out, B.M. grew in the womb of her mother’s friend who'd selflessly volunteered to gestate the couple’s embryo.
Up until now, Argentine families had to rely on finding surrogate mothers in other countries with specific legislation that recognized the process. Never before had Argentina's justice system intervened in a case of a baby conceived in a substitute womb, ordering the registration of the child as the biological parents’ given that the couple’s egg and sperm were used in the procedure.
After baby’s DNA was tested to confirm the biological relation, Judge Carmen Bacigalupo granted the couple with the recognition of full parenthood status in the place of the surrogate. Now the baby has a birth certificate and her National Identity Document.
Juan De Gregorio, 44, and Maica Moraes, 40, got married in 2006. Ever since, they wanted to make their dream come true to have a baby. But two pregnancies ended in miscarriage, with the second one reaching six months and the fetus lost in a delicate intervention in which Maica was forced to have her uterus removed. And though she was able to keep her ovaries, her chances to give birth became null. They thought about adoption. They signed up for it. They were told: “We may call you in months, years, or never...”
In vitro fertilization was the only option they had left. This meant joining Maica's eggs with her husband’s sperm and then transferring the embryo to a surrogate womb. They looked into international surrogacy, but later gave up due to its high cost.
An "incredible" offer
Then, one day, came an altruistic proposal. Maica’s friend, a divorced woman of about 40 years old and mother to two teenagers, offered to be a surrogate. “It’s incredible how help can come from the most unexpected places,” Juan explained to Clarín. His eyes water along with Maica’s, and Fabiana Quani’s, the international family law expert who advised the family on all related legal matters.
The presentation and appeal for the authorization to register the baby as their own was based on Article 19 of the Constitution, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the San José Pact of Costa Rica, and the not-yet-approved bill to reform the Civil and Commercial Code.
Maica remembers when her friend said: I’ll lend you my belly. “I laughed," says Maica. "I never thought she could have been serious.”
The conversation continued a month later. They thought about it time and time again. Each one analyzed the possiblity with a psychologist, until they finally made the decision. Then came the consultations with professionals, the hormone treatments for both women, the formation of embryos in the laboratory -- in 48 hours, with no previous freezing -- and the moment when three embryos were inserted in the surrogate’s womb.
“We prefered three instead of one,” Maica explains. One of them started to grow. In April 2012, B.M. was born by C-section in an Argentinian hospital. She weighed 3 kilos (6.6 lbs). Maica and Juan witnessed the birth of their child with great emotion. Even the anesthesiologist’s eyes watered. A dream had come true, a dream that now has the official stamp of the nation's justice system.