FL surrogate says agency left her on the hook with medical bills - WNCN: News, Weather

FL surrogate says agency left her on the hook with medical bills

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

Surrogacy is a popular but complicated option for infertile couples who want to have a biological baby of their own. Surrogacy arrangements are well protected in Florida making the state a hotbed for them from all over the world.

When Joy Sutkus saw an ad for surrogates on Craiglist a few years ago, it piqued her interest.  She already had three children of her own and had no trouble carrying them. "I like being pregnant. I actually feel prettier when I'm pregnant."  Sutkus also liked the idea of being able to help another couple. "If I couldn't have my kids I would hope somebody would want to do that for me."

Sutkus signed up with a surrogacy agency out of Hollywood, FL called "Bundles of Joy." After being vetted, she agreed to carry the biological child of a couple from another country.

The pregnancy went flawlessly and last September Joy gave birth to a baby boy. Sutkus says "It was just beautiful." The couple was in the room when she gave birth and the two families have stayed in contact ever since.

Sutkus says she receives pictures and videos of the little boy, who is now eight months old, all the time. "He is so cute," says Sutkus.

The surrogacy-related problem Sutkus faces now is a mounting stack of medical bills related to the birth.  Some of which have been turned over to collection agencies for non payment.

Sutkus says the biological parents have already paid the surrogacy agency but the owners of Bundles of Joy, Mark and Sarah Vogel, have not yet paid the bills. "They keep saying they're taking care of it. She said he was trying to work with the creditors to get the amount reduced."

But Sutkus is questioning why the agency is trying to have the amounts reduced if the biological parents have already paid the agency the full amounts.  Sutkus is also worried that her credit is being negatively impacted by the delay.

When we first contacted Mark Vogel, the owner of "Bundles of Joy," he left a message saying: "as Miss Sutkus was advised almost a month ago, all of the outstanding charges have been paid. Everything has been paid."

But when Sutkus checked back with the medical providers the next day, she said all still showed the same outstanding balances.

Sutkus says this is the only discouraging part of what was otherwise a virtually flawless surrogacy arrangement.

Vogel provided copies of letters dated the last week of April enclosing payments to the providers.  He insists all the bills have been paid.

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