Two months, a week and four days after Simon George Kaitz was born in Mexico, his American parents still haven’t been able to bring him home.
Sam and Laura Kaitz said they thought they were “doing things the right way” when they used a surrogacy broker to hire what they thought was a reputable surrogacy agency. But their efforts to get the newborn a passport have become mired in confusion, paperwork and legal drama that has kept their family separated since the birth — Laura at their home in New Jersey, and Sam with their son in an Airbnb in Mexico City.
Laura, 52, “cries every day” that they’re apart, Sam told The Washington Post. “When she’s here, she cries because she’s away from her two children. When she’s there, she cries because she’s away from us.”
The family’s saga, previously reported by the Asbury Park Press, is emblematic of the challenges of having a child via a surrogate in Mexico, where lower costs attract would-be parents even as the U.S. government warned in 2021 there was “no legal framework” for foreigners to pursue surrogacy.
“If you decide to pursue parenthood in Mexico via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with a gestational mother, be prepared for long and unexpected delays in documenting your child’s citizenship,” the U.S. Embassy in Mexico said.
The embassy on Thursday referred an inquiry about the Kaitzes’ situation to the U.S. State Department, which said it was aware of the case but declined to comment “due to privacy considerations.” The Kaitzes’ surrogacy agency did not respond to an interview request.
Before the couple’s surrogacy journey began, Laura had long wanted to have another child in addition to her two sons from a previous marriage. While Sam, 37, said he wasn’t immediately sure about becoming a parent, the idea grew on him as he watched more of his friends have children.
For medical reasons, Sam said, becoming pregnant was off the table for Laura, so the pair began researching surrogacy. They almost signed a contract with an agency in Ukraine days before Russia’s invasion threw the country into turmoil.
The Kaitzes looked instead to Mexico, where surrogacy would cost them about $65,000 — almost as much as Sam’s annual salary as a high school math teacher, but still far less than the $100,000 or $200,000 the process could have cost in the United States. They had seen warnings about the complications involved in surrogacy in Mexico, but, Sam said, the agency assured them that information was outdated.
Plus, the couple’s broker told them, with a Mexican agency, both their names could be on the child’s birth certificate.
“That was something she was very excited about: being able to say, ‘I am his mother and nobody else,’” Sam said of Laura.
That belief, however, turned out to be the misunderstanding at the center of the pair’s struggle.
Three days after Simon was born on April 18 — from a sperm sample from Sam and an egg donor — Sam flew to Mexico City to meet him. He made an appointment at the U.S. Embassy for June 7 so Simon could get a passport and the two could return to Freehold, N.J., two days later.
Soon, however, his lawyers told him they had to go through Mexico’s court system to get Laura’s name on Simon’s birth certificate. They assured him the document would still be ready for the embassy appointment in early June, Sam said.
What followed, he said, was a series of bureaucratic obstacles: The embassy didn’t accept certain documents, saying they were temporary or not legally valid. They gave him a list of records he needed, then rejected some because they weren’t official stamped copies and told him another was not what they were seeking.
The red tape has left the Kaitzes in limbo, with Sam spending about $70 per day for lodging in Mexico City. Laura, a property manager, has only been able to visit when she can find care for one of her sons, who is legally disabled. Meanwhile, Simon spent three weeks in the NICU after being born early.
“It has been extremely stressful,” Sam said. One of Laura’s sons, who has autism, “has said to her on more than one occasion that he doesn’t think that I care about him anymore because I’m down here and not with him and he feels abandoned, which breaks my heart because that is not true.”
Sam is now waiting for the results of a DNA test, which he said the embassy requested as further proof of his relationship to Simon. He said he feels “betrayed” by the surrogacy agency, which he blames for the mayhem.
Mostly, though, Sam said, he’s trying to remain numb.
“If I don’t I will either break down or start screaming at someone,” he told The Post in a text message. “And I cannot afford to feel right now. Not when Simon is depending solely on me.”