Kelley couldn't stand the thought of the baby in foster care. She'd heard the nightmare stories.
She felt like her back was up against the wall.
Her lawyer explained she could go to court and fight to get custody of the baby, or fight to appoint a guardian for the baby, but Connecticut law is very clear that the genetic parents are the legal parents, so she'd likely lose in court.
There was one more option, DePrimo told her. She could go to a place where she, not the genetic parents, would be considered the baby's legal mother.
That place was 700 miles away.
Over the years, states have developed different laws about surrogacy. Some, like Connecticut, say the genetic parents -- the ones who supplied the sperm and the egg -- are the baby's legal parents. Other states don't recognize surrogacy contracts, and so the baby legally belongs to the woman who's carrying the baby.
On April 11, in her seventh month of pregnancy, Kelley and her daughters left for one of those states -- Michigan. While she was gassing up her car to leave, her lawyer informed the parents' lawyer about her plans.
"Once I realized that I was going to be the only person really fighting for her, that Mama bear instinct kicked in, and there was no way I was giving up without a fight," Kelley said.
Kelley chose Michigan because of its laws, but also its medicine: she'd been doing research on the baby's condition, and concluded C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan had one of the best pediatric heart programs in the country.
When she arrived, she found an inexpensive summer sublet from a University of Michigan student and applied for Michigan Medicaid. She made appointments with a high-risk pregnancy specialist and a pediatric cardiologist and settled into life in Ann Arbor with her girls.
There was one thing left to do: She had to decide if she would keep the baby.
She was a single mother with no job and no permanent place to live, but she'd grown emotionally attached to the life inside her, and some days she wanted to keep her.
Kelley struggled, and finally decided she wasn't the right person to raise the child. But she knew who was: in her online research, she'd met other mothers of children with special needs. One of them had been particularly helpful, putting her in touch with support groups and sharing stories and photos of her own children -- both biological and adopted -- with medical problems.
The woman and her husband helped Kelley pack up to move to Michigan, and gave her emotional support as well.
"While it is true that (the baby) will face some life-long challenges, it is also true that it is also more than possible for her to have a wonderful life and to thrive," the mother wrote to Kelley in an e-mail. "I am sorry that (her) biological parents have abandoned their daughter and left you navigating this new, unexpected journey as the sole person bearing responsibility for (her) well-being and care."
Kelley asked the couple to adopt the baby.
They said yes. The baby now had a home, and it would be undisputed.
Or so Kelley thought.
An unexpected challenge
Kelley hadn't heard from the biological parents in months when in May, about one month before the baby's due date, the parents filed in Connecticut Superior Court for parental rights. They wanted to be the legal parents. They wanted their names on the birth certificate.
The legal papers included a stunning admission: the wife was not the baby's genetic mother -- they'd used an anonymous egg donor.
The case had now become very complicated. The lawyers were still negotiating about who would be the legal parents when the baby was born June 25.
She was full-term and six pounds nine ounces, but she wasn't breathing. Her body was limp and blue. Her heart rate was dangerously low.
The pediatricians pumped oxygen into her tiny lungs, and in about 20 seconds her heart rate went up to normal. She breathed on her own. Her color normalized.
"Infant appears to be moving all extremities and crying appropriately," the medical record stated.
Kelley's name went on the birth certificate. Kelley said she left the space for the father's name blank.
Three weeks later, the two sides struck a deal: The father agreed to give up his paternal rights as long as he and his wife could keep in touch with the adoptive family about the baby's health. Since then, the couple has visited the baby. The father has held her.
"They do care about her well-being. They do care about how she's doing," the adoptive mother said.
A long list of med problems -- and an infectious smile
The baby's medical problems turned out to be much more extensive than the ultrasound at Hartford Hospital had revealed.
She has a birth defect called holoprosencephaly, where the brain fails to completely divide into distinct hemispheres. She has heterotaxy, which means many of her internal organs, such as her liver and stomach, are in the wrong places. She has at least two spleens, neither of which works properly. Her head is very small, her right ear is misshapen, she has a cleft lip and a cleft palate, and a long list of complex heart defects, among other problems.
Baby S. -- her adoptive parents are comfortable using her first initial -- has a long road in front of her. She's already had one open-heart surgery and surgery on her intestines, and in the next year she'll need one or two more cardiac surgeries in addition to procedures to repair her cleft lip and palate. Later in childhood she'll need surgeries on her jaw and ear and more heart surgeries.
Her adoptive parents, who asked to remain anonymous to protect their family's privacy, know Baby S. might not be with them for long. The cardiac procedures she needs are risky, and her heterotaxy and holoprosencephaly, though mild, carry a risk of early death, according to doctors.
If Baby S. does survive, there's a 50% chance she won't be able to walk, talk or use her hands normally.
In some ways, Baby S. looks different from other 8-month-olds babies. In addition to the facial abnormalities, she's very small, weighing only 11 pounds and she gets food through a tube directly into her stomach so she'll grow faster.
Her adoptive parents know some people look at her and see a baby born to suffer -- a baby who's suffering could have been prevented with an abortion.
But that's not the way they see it. They see a little girl who's defied the odds, who constantly surprises her doctors with what she's able to do -- make eye contact, giggle at her siblings, grab toys, eye strangers warily.
"S. wakes up every single morning with an infectious smile. She greets her world with a constant sense of enthusiasm," her mother said in an e-mail to CNN. "Ultimately, we hold onto a faith that in providing S. with love, opportunity, encouragement, she will be the one to show us what is possible for her life and what she is capable of achieving."
Savior or Satan?
Just as there are two ways to look at Baby S., there are two ways to look at Crystal Kelley, the woman who carried her.