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Assisted Reproduction

More Troubling Allegations Leveled Against Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas And Merritt Patterson

A couple victimized by Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas and Merritt Patterson blogs about their ordeal:

So, I called SPCT immediately and said can I please have donor #123. Merritt said, sure, of course, I just need $9,000 right away- $5,500 for the donor comp, and the remainder for the agency fee. I also remember thinking it was weird to pay so much for the agency fee, as she really wasn’t doing much for me. I came to her with the donor I wanted!! This whole time I thought I was simply speaking to a Merritt Patterson, egg donor coordinator, as that was what her email said. At no point did she ever let on that she was the owner, as well as the only employee.

She told me I had to pay in two separate installments, which again I thought was odd. Also, I did not receive a receipt for one of the payments, and when I tried to get her on the phone to ask for it, it became difficult- always to voicemail. I tried her again while sitting in my car and she finally picked up. She sounded very confused, and kept saying to herself why so and so would have printed it out like that, and not sent me a recipient. I remember asking to speak to whoever this person was, but she said that she would take care of it. Again, I was under the impression that SPCT had multiple employees, including a finance person. That whole conversation was a farce, an act.

Soon we were all set- Kelly got her calendar for meds and I was told the donor was on birth control. The evening before the donor was to come to SIRM for her first suppression ultrasound I received an email from Merritt. She said that the egg donor emailed her that she got into a small car accident, the doctor wanted her held overnight for observation, and the doctor said she must stop the birth control pill while in the hospital. Hmm, now color me an idiot, but aren’t we all told that if you skip just one pill you can lose the contraceptive ability of it? Have you ever heard of a doctor telling a woman to stop her contraceptive? Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous? But, of course, I believed Merritt, why wouldn’t I? Now I look back and can only imagine what she thought of me, and how DUMB I was to believe that. I still can’t believe I bought that story.

So, we waited and waited and the egg donor never got back in touch. Everything was cancelled. Kelly had to stop her medications, and I had to pay her a cancelled cycle fee because she had already begun injectibles. I don’t remember now how much that was, but it was at least over $1,000. Add that to the tab.

Among the more interesting facts in this passage is that the donor’s fee was $5,500 and SPCT’s fee was $3,500. This contradicts Patterson’s statement to the reporter from her own newspaper, Park Cities People (PCP), where she claimed that one of the reasons she had to close SPCT was because competitor agencies were violating ASRM guidelines by offering $5,500 or more to their donors making it impossible for her to compete. Moreover, according to the PCP article of last week, Patterson claimed she only charged an agency fee of $2,500. Looks like Patterson has been hoisted on her own petard. Parenthetically, notwithstanding what Patterson claimed, ASRM guidelines permit up to $10,000 in donor compensation if justification exists.

For a columnist, Ms. Patterson sure has a difficult time taking accurate notes:

The letter to terminate our contract went out, and thus began a cat and mouse game to try and get our money back. I just went back and re-read all the emails back and forth (or rather, her lack of reply and if she did reply, only one or two evasive sentences and never answering our questions), and I was going to copy and paste them here for you. But I am so utterly disgusted that I don’t even have the stomach to do it. We got the “check is in the mail” run around, Merritt said she mailed the check to DH’s office, she could never provide a FedEx tracking number, etc. Another example of where she must have thought we were idiots- have any of you fellow IFers EVER used your work address for something as personal as IF? Sure, I had meds delivered at my office a few times, but never would I have correspondence, especially from an egg donor agency, sent to my husband’s place of work! Is she for real??

This inane excuse proffered by Patterson to these Intended Parents is strikingly similar to the reasons she gave my egg donor client last year. As we have previously reported, the charade being employed by SPCT was to notify its donors that their compensation checks had been mailed in accordance with their contract. Days would go by and these donors would never receive their checks. When the donors called to complain, Patterson feigned surprise and promised to place a stop payment on the checks and reissue them. Patterson than advised these donors that because their funds were “certified”, that the stop payment process would take 45 days and a new check could not be issued until that time elapsed. This was nothing but pure sophistry on Patterson’s part and symptomatic of a clear pattern and practice by SPCT to intentionally defraud their donors by failing to make timely payments and then invoking fallacious excuses about the funds being unavailable for more than 6 weeks. It is also bears noting that, unlike other agencies, SPCT would typically not send their donor a check until 30 days after the retrieval. Throw in the lame “lost in the mail excuse” and Patterson was able to delay paying her donors for ten weeks! As far as the “certified check” canard, I was able to confirm with a manager at Park Cities Bank, identified by Patterson as having this 45 day hold procedure, that no such policy exists.

Oh what a tangled web Patterson weaved….


8 comments for “More Troubling Allegations Leveled Against Surrogate Parenting Center of Texas And Merritt Patterson”

  • jesse

    She didn’t lie about one part, the original agency fee was 3500, but she lowered it to 2500 around 2009/ A lot of the couples payed 3500 prior to the new fee be instituted

    • Not according to the Park Cities People article which states:

      “Couples would usually pay $8,000 for the entire process. The donor would get $5,000, $2,500 would go to SPCT and $500 would cover expenses for the donor, including travel, food and child care. According tot he contract each recipient couple signed, the $2,500 fee was non-refundable….”

      While your information may be accurate, there is nothing in the newspaer story that indicates that SPCT lowered their agency fees.

      • jesse

        if that was the agency fee for the last couple of years, why would she need to state previously it was $3500?

        We were one of the couples that she did not follow through with, her agency was a joke, but looking back, I also think we bear blame for not looking into things prior to signing.

        The PCP article was a joke but not surprised

  • Karen

    I called PArk Cities bank on Hillcrest. Spoke with Amy and she said there IS a 45 day wait to cancel a Cashiers check. Have you asked Merritt to provide her side of the story? Are you uneasy about saying something is a “fact” after hearing from the anonymous couple only? Are you writing as a journalist or lawyer/owner of an egg donation agency?

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for the information on the bank’s policy on cashier’s checks but it really does not advance the discussion at all or provide any defense to Patterson and SPCT’s alleged fraudulent conduct. Instead, you may want to consider calling Amy back and ask her what Park Cities Bank’s policy is on the availability of “certified” funds because no where have we ever claimed that Patterson sent “cashier’s checks”.

      While you are on the phone, perhaps you can spare another moment or two and give Patterson a call and ask her why the funds ultimately came from a different bank? Kind of suspicious that one bank had “certified” funds on hold for 45 days but when they finally cleared, another bank wired the funds — don’t you think?

      With respect to your other question, I would never publish anything as “fact” unless I independently corroborated it. The information I posted in this blog about Patterson and her bogus claims of unavailable funds comes from my own direct communications with her as well as hundreds of emails in my possession from SPCT to its clients.

  • Wish It Hadn’t Happened

    Hi Karen- FYI, the (partial) refund we received from Merritt was a personal check from the Park Cities Bank; not a cashier’s check, not a money order, just….a check. And supposedly all our money should have been in an escrow account (per ASRM guidelines) and thus easily accessible, however it took months to see a check, with the threat of a lawsuit to finally receive one, and we (other victims) all were given the same story as to the delay of our refunds….

  • A

    As a former donor with SPCT, I want to share that I never met with a psychiatric counselor or attorney and never went through the “genetic counseling” that Merritt allegedly tells her recipients is provided to donors. I only went through minimal blood work – testing for STD’s. The previous (legitimate) agency I donated with provided me with an attorney to negotiate my contract (acting on my behalf – not theirs), a lengthy counseling session and extensive blood and genetic tests. In retrospect I see this as very disturbing. Just my two cents.

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