U.K. couple Steven and Marc Winchester-Horscraft accrued £43,000 (over $56,000) in legal fees fighting for custody of their newborn twins — who at the time of the dispute were struggling to survive in intensive care.
The bitter legal fight began when their surrogate's boyfriend demanded £3,000 (almost $4,000) to sign them the parental rights; the couple had already paid pregnancy fees of £17,000 (over $22,000), their life savings, according to their GoFundMe page. The additional cost was beyond what they could afford.
“Putting everything into the care of our twins, buying all the essential equipment needed for newborns, we were already in minus funds," Steven stated.
This began a "long, excruciating nightmare," as Steven called it. After they could not pay the additional amount demanded, the surrogate declined to sign the parental order or add him, the biological father, to the birth certificate. She also told the hospital to bar the couple from visiting the premature babies, who were suffering from serious health issues.
"Imagine not being able to know anything about your sick, premature newborn children. At this point they were extremely poorly so we did not even know if they were alive," Steven said.
"Feeling lost and terrified we were going to lose our children we had to seek legal help," he said. To cover this help, the couple took out a loan to cover legal fees to fight for their children in court. There, the "emotional/mental trauma" continued. During the ensuing six-week period, the surrogate registered her boyfriend as the father and began calling the twins by different names than those chosen by the Winchester-Horscrafts.
A DNA test eventually confirmed Steven to be the father. "But all of this has come at a huge financial burden," Steven said. The couple sent up a GoFundMe campaign to cover the amount of the loan, around £26,000 (over $34,000).
"We are both nurses and have spent our working lives caring for others. I guess I am just hoping for some help from others in order to get us out of this awful situation," Steven wrote on the crowdsourcing page. "Due to our surrogate's actions we have not been able to enjoy the time we have had with our girls. Both having to try and work as much as we possibly can to break even and get us out of this downward spiral."
At the time of this article's publication, the GoFundMe had raised £3,630 of the £26,000 goal.