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Sherri Shepherd fought hard in a Pennsylvania courtroom to invalidate the surrogacy contract she and her ex-husband, Lamar Sally, entered into with a gestational carrier, free herself from the child support she had been ordered to pay, and to have her name removed from her baby’s birth certificate. However, the Pennsylvania appeals court upheld the surrogacy contract, affirming the earlier ruling of the Montgomery County Superior Court. While legal experts were expecting this judgment, it apparently was another hard-hitting disappointment to Shepherd.
The recent decision is also being recognized as the first ruling in the State of Pennsylvania confirming the validity of surrogacy contracts. This is a welcomed relief to all who support surrogacy.
As many know, Sherri Shepherd and Lamar Sally divorced while a surrogate was carrying their baby. Shepherd argued to the court that Sally coerced her into the contract, but the judge didn’t rule in her favor. It was decided by the court that she willingly took part in the surrogacy process, and that “Baby S. would not have been born but for (her) actions and express agreement to be the child’s legal mother,” despite having a change of heart midway through the pregnancy.
Notwithstanding that change of heart, the contract terms remained binding, and Shepherd is legally responsible to support her baby, although she has publicly expressed not wanting any parental relationship.
Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press wrote, “The ruling means she [Shepherd] must continue paying $4,100 a month in child support, according to a lawyer for ex-husband Lamar Sally, who is raising the 1-year-old boy in Los Angeles.”
Dale reached out to Sally and he shared a few words about the judge upholding the previous ruling.
“She [Shepherd] doesn’t want to be part of his life. It’s all good,” he told Dale. “I’m going to be parent enough for the both of us.”
It’s important to note that Shepherd wasn’t always on the birth certificate. The surrogate, Jessica Bartholomew, of Philadelphia, gave birth to Lamar Jr. in August 2014 and was originally listed as his mother. Bartholomew has spoken publicly about the sad and unfortunate details.
In the International Business Times, she told reporter Maria Vultaggio, “Sherri put me and my family through so much emotionally and almost ruined me financially so I will never trust anyone to go through that again,” she said. She continued, “I wanted to help her because she couldn’t have a child of her own and it was supposed to be a beautiful thing. But it turned out to be a nightmare.”
Dale went on to write that when Shepherd and Sally decided on surrogacy, they were living in New Jersey. The couple needed both an egg donor and surrogate. Sally was the biological father.
In the second trimester, the marriage between Shepherd and Sally began deteriorating, and Shepherd decided she wanted out of the surrogacy agreement.
The owner of the surrogacy agency Shepherd and Sally used lauded the court’s decision telling the media, “Surrogates don’t want to feel that someone could want a baby and then just back out. The surrogate is not the mother.”
Surrogates who enter this compassionate journey must be legally safeguarded. Assuming the responsibility of a surrogate takes extraordinary dedication and these women should remain protected, as evidenced by this ruling.