In the weeks that followed the news that a family from Florida who hired a Dallas-area surrogate to carry their baby no longer wanted that baby when it was discovered to have a potentially fatal heart condition, Shayna Chandler's heart has been hurting...mostly from her growing anger.
"I started talking to the TV. It made me so mad," she said of the late-December news report she saw on WFAA. The surrogate, who eventually carried the baby boy to term, said that the biological parents asked her to get an abortion early in the pregnancy when the heart condition was discovered during an ultrasound.
"And they should be ashamed of themselves wanting to get rid of a baby just because they thought it was defective. A baby is not trash. It's life," said Chandler.
The Lewisville-area mom of three asked to talk to WFAA about the case because her choice, in a similar situation, was sitting right beside her on their living room couch: her 16-year-old daughter Shauntale' Criss.
"She had two holes in her heart, and her preliminary aorta was out of place," Chandler said.
It's called Ventricular Septal Defect, the most common type of congenital heart problem, where a child is born with a hole between the left and right ventricles. Repaired with either medicine, time, or surgery, the outlook for recovery is usually very good.
"I was honestly mad," Shauntale' said of the story last month. "I kind of went on this whole rant. I was like 'That baby's fine. The baby's gonna be fine.' Hello I'm fine!"
WFAA has tried multiple times to reach the biological parents in the surrogate baby case. Neither they nor their attorneys have responded. Last WFAA was informed, the baby boy did get the life-saving surgery he needed here in Dallas. But the parents from Florida have offered no further information what happened afterward.
In Shauntale's case, her mom keeps her memories in a baby book. They include her first pictures when she was born prematurely at 3 pounds 9 ounces, and a sample piece of the surgical fabric doctors used to close the holes in her heart.
"Well, whoever created that helped save your life. It's a part of you," Chandler told her daughter as Shauntale' held the fabric in her hands for the first time.
"I kept all this stuff to let her know exactly what she went through and what she has achieved for herself," Chandler said.
And it's the kind of memory book she hopes the parents of the surrogate-born baby are keeping too.
"They thought they had to have the perfect child. Nobody's perfect. Nobody. If they really wanted the baby, it's no matter what. Love is love. Love is unconditional the moment you know you have a child. That's how it should be," she said.
As for Shauntale', the girl born with the holes in her heart, she has a heart set on music now and hopes to be a musician someday.
"I definitely want to be a performer. I just want to influence a lot of people," she said.
Perhaps, with a few words, and a mended heart beating now for 16 years, she already has.
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