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Ah. This has been a long time coming. On my last blog, I wrote about my surrogacy/adoption journey quite a bit – but on this one I just haven't gotten around to it. I've mentioned Ling here and there on my fan page, and those that know me know who I'm talking about. Others have just been in the dark. Even when they've asked, I have just ignored the questions. I'm working on a book, so I thought “I'll just write the book and let them read it, then I won't have to answer the hard questions” – but the book writing has come to a halt because it's just too hard right now. I guess I feel like I owe it to you guys to open up a bit. This is the very short, condensed version of my story, so I hope it still makes sense.

I was working for a surrogacy agency back in 2007 when I was approached by the owner to be a surrogate myself. I had tried to be a surrogate before, but everything always fell through, so I had pretty much given up on the idea. When she asked me to be a surrogate for J, I looked over his profile and wasn't really sure about doing it but she reassured me: “he's an amazing man, he wants a baby more than anything, he will make a great father”. After a little debate, I agreed to do it. I flew out to Oregon, did the insemination, and got pregnant. Yes, I used my egg. I was a traditional surrogate.

I got pregnant and everything went well. While there were red flags here and there, I ignored them because there wasn't anything I could do. By “red flags”, I mean J had me do a “baking soda wash” before insemination to increase the chances of him having a boy. J kept calling the baby a boy, saying his family wanted a boy, talking boy boy boy boy boy all the time. I thought that was normal – when I was pregnant, I wanted girls. Later, I found out it wasn't just innocent “wanting” a boy. I called the baby “Ling” because he didn't have a name chosen yet, and “baby” was so impersonal.

Then, shit got real. Real fast.

At 5 months pregnant, I had an ultrasound and found out I was pregnant with a girl. I was so excited to tell him that she was healthy! When I called and gave him the news, he said “Oh” and then said he had to go. Previously, we talked on the phone at least a couple of times a week for long periods of time. This phone call was odd.

Over the next few days, things unfolded quickly. The agency owner told me J didn't want the baby. He wanted me to keep his baby because his family would “not approve of him having a girl”. I didn't understand, I couldn't believe it was happening. I was a single mom of 3, I couldn't take care of ANOTHER baby! I called J. I was begging him to talk to me – he wouldn't answer his phone. I left messages, telling him if he was scared that he shouldn't be… I could help him with any girl advice he needed… I had three of them already. He never answered my phone calls. The agency owner said he didn't want to talk to me. He was mad at me for being pregnant with a girl.

I let all of this information process, and then realized I was going to be a mom – again! :) I was really nervous, and fairly broke, but I had done this before (three times over!) so why couldn't I do it again? Ling was coming home with us. I started buying baby items, and carving out a spot in our small home for a nursery. I told my children the news – they were confused because, from the get-go, I told them Ling wasn't our baby. Now she was. They were so excited! I started thinking about names…

I got a call a few weeks later from the agency owner saying J changed his mind and was going to keep Ling. No. Wait. What? Legally, he could keep her. I was a contracted surrogate, he had paid me (though he stopped when he said he didn't want her), I signed papers… Ling was his, no matter what. After further discussion, the agency owner and I got pretty scared. He didn't want a girl. His family wouldn't approve. What exactly was he going to do with her? I found out he was going to give her up for adoption.

You can't give my baby up for adoption! You said she was MINE… you said I had to take her… she's been in MY body for 7 months. You. Can't. Do. This.

I called a lawyer.

Well, I had to call about 40 or 50 of them because nobody wanted to touch my case with a 100 foot pole. I found a lawyer a few hours away that said she would help me. I didn't have enough money to pay her much, but she said not to worry about it. She was an adoption lawyer but had dealt with surrogacy before. My lawyer discussed things with his lawyer, and she told me he refused to let me have her and I would definitely lose a case in court. Best case scenario was that I choose the adoptive family so I know that she would be safe. She said there were open adoptions, where I'd get updates on Ling. She said it'd be like an extended family relationship – my girls would still get to see pictures and I'd still get to watch her grow up.

She lied.

Well, I guess my lawyer didn't really lie. The adoptive mother I chose for Ling lied. She was great at first (aren't they all?). We “bonded” (I guess that's part of the facade) while I was pregnant, we spent a lot of time together – she flew in from New York and took me shopping (that's called grooming, I believe). She promised to always send photos, letters… oh my she promised me the world. I gave birth to Ling and she was quickly taken away by S (adoptive mom). I still had my rights, though, so she had to tread carefully. I requested they bring Ling to my room. They had the nurse do so. S and I had been friends… we had bonded… and now she was acting like a stranger.

I don't know how I had the strength to leave the hospital without my baby. I really don't. If I didn't have my 3 girls, I wouldn't have made it. They're the only thing I had to live for at that point. I was beyond heart broken. I couldn't even walk – they had to put me in a wheelchair because I thought I was going to pass out from crying so hard. Yet S walked out with Ling, smiling.

The next day, I was in a court room signing over my rights. I asked if I could hold Ling. S didn't want to let me, but she did. I still had my rights, she didn't want to screw anything up…

As soon as the papers were signed, she was gone. She emailed me a few times over the course of the first few years – only after I begged her to send a photo or two. She gave me updates a few times and it was great. Unfortunately, S then changed her email address and I've lost all contact with her. I haven't heard from her in a while, I don't even know how long, and I'm devastated. I love Ling so much. It was incredibly hard to walk away from her, but I had to. And instead of S following through with her promises, she's broken them all.

I'm thankful for the photos I do have of Ling. I will never forget her. Her birthday was yesterday, and I survived another year without her. I don't know how. My heart aches for her, but my girls help me get through it.

Happy 4th Birthday, Ling.

josephine adeline palermo

Happy 5th Birthday to a Daughter I Wish I Knew

2 Days Before Her 8th Birthday

Sadie Mae is a Lifestyle blogger living in Arizona with her three daughters. Her passions including traveling, healthy living, and teaching women how to work from home so they can spend more time with their kids.


  1. UGGH, WOW!! I did not know this. I just came across this post, so I’m not sure how long ago you wrote it. You are very brave to put this out there. (((Hugs to you)))

  2. Just read your beautiful tribute to Ling. My heart goes out to you.

  3. This is just so wrong. I feel so badly for you. I have see this situation several times and a couple with beautiful worthy people I know well. I admire you immensely for sharing this.
    Tim (@timrs2001)

  4. This was so sad! I’m sorry you went through this. I hope that she knows how much you love her. Thank you for sharing your story, I was curious about your adoption story, as you had mentioned it before.

  5. That absolutely breaks my heart! I don’t understand how people can be so awful. Babies/Children are not pets. You don’t put them in a box on the side of the road with “Free” written on it or put a post on FB when you’ve decided that you can’t handle the responsibility. I’m so sorry that you and your family had to go through this–you’re obviously a very strong woman, though, so I’m sure that your experience is going to help so many other people going through a similar difficult situation.
    My two younger brothers are adopted–and one of them was 12 when he became part of our family (he’s now 15)–and he went through some really awful things. Which is why your situation breaks my heart. I wanted to be naive and think that the kind of experience that my brother went through was isolated and that there weren’t all that many people out there like the ones he has encountered already…but that’s unfortunately not the case, apparently.
    My heart breaks for you because I know that there is a little hole in your heart that will never fully heal. But Ling is lucky for that. She may not ever know it, but she will always have a “mom” out there who loves her unconditionally, and that makes you amazing.

  6. Wow, Sadie. I can’t imagine the depth of pain you’ve suffered because of those two people. They should be hung out to dry!
    I hope you get to have a relationship with your daughter some day. Something tells me you’re not going to stop until you do! Keep fighting!! Best of luck to you!

  7. Geez, I know good people outweigh bad, but man. Those were some pretty not-very-nice people that were thrown into your life. Very heartbreaking. As a mother myself, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain you experienced and still experience. I’m sure you’ll see her again one day. Keep the faith.

  8. First off I want to say how completely gorgeous your daughter is! This is so awful it made me so sad for u ! I can’t believe that if he didn’t want her so much why wouldn’t he just let u keep her! ?! This is so messed up. … I’m very sorry! Maybe someday u can find her and explain everything to her! Stay strong for u and your other 3. Good luck with everything

  9. Omg, I am so sorry you had to go through that and lose ling. I cannot believe the father did that to you. I pray one day god will give you the gift of seeing your daughter. I would not have given my rights up because she was mine and the father was just an unappreciative man. Whether it was a girl or boy it’s gods chose on what sex we have not him. I hope this lady regrets taking her and not contacting you or her sisters. She should put herself in your shoes so she could have an idea on what you are going through. She should send picture on holidays and birthdays and come bring her once in a while. Please finish your book so when Ling gets older she could see you loved her and it was not your fault you lost contact with her. Her adoptive mother deceived you in such a horrible way it is just unforgivable. I will pray all goes well. God Bless you for wanting to help and give someone a child who was not even fit in the first place. Your boss was just wrong in asking you to do that and vouch for him. Good this is heart breaking and I am in tears. Once the book is finished I would like to know I will definitely go get one. Always be positive because god works in mysterious ways. I will be praying all turns out well in your behalf..

  10. Reading this my heart breaks for you and your girls. I pray that one day Ling will find you and have the relationship with you she was meant to have. ((( hugs)))

  11. Oh your story is heartbreaking. She is a beautiful little girl.
    I hope that somewhere deep inside she knows her birth Momma loves her so much.

  12. Sadie, my heart breaks for you and for Ling! It still amazes me how cruel humanity can be. I just don’t understand it. I am an empath, so I feel the multitude of feelings even writing this story evokes for you. I know the emotions involved are even more complicated, painful, and confusing when you are living them. I want you to know that my heart knows the pain of loosing a child. I have lost 4 children of my own, so I know the pain loss brings and I know all the other feelings that loss brings. I pray one day Ling will want to know you and that somehow, some way she is able to track you down and I pray the two of you become close. I realize you can’t make up for the missed years or missing all the firsts as a mother, but you can still love one another and make the most of the time left if you ever get to meet again. You will be in my prayers and I hope you know you are not alone in your grief!

    1. Thank you, Fern. <3 *hugs* I'm sorry for your losses.

  13. left tears in my eyes. That is sad… I hope you get the power to finish your book and perhaps become a lifetime true story. May karma come back to those who’ve hurt you :/

  14. I am so sorry. My heart aches for you. I am glad your girls are there for you.

  15. whoa, i never knew all this… this is so sad. <3

  16. I know absolutely nothing about surrogacy, first-hand, so I can only imagine the heartache of losing Ling. With any luck, her adoptive mom was just feeling insecure and will one day reach out to you. At the very least, I hope you will see Ling again one day. Hugs to you…

  17. It took me a few minutes to figure out why he would not let you keep Ling with you, and then it occurred to me that it must have been fear of getting hit for child support. He could have also been afraid that he would be held responsible for her should anything ever happen to you. By placing her for adoption, he escaped any possible future responsibility for her. All of which could have probably been avoided with the drafting of a document where he relinquished his rights and you relinquished any future claims of child support or visitation from him.

    Bottom line, he was a selfish @**hole. At the very least, he should have done his research before promising her to you, only to take it back.

    1. The fear of child support was a deciding factor for him, but the idea that you could simply draft documents for him to relinquish rights is a fairy tale, unfortunately. In Missouri, they do not allow the “bastardization” of a child. Therefore because I did not have a husband to adopt Ling and raise her alongside me, she would’ve been a “bastard” and a burden of the state (we were on state insurance). In an ideal world, it would be just that simple. But it’s not.

  18. I want to comment here but I am speechless. This is heart-wrenching and I am so so sorry you had this experience. Thank you for sharing your story, even though it was hard.

  19. Sadie!!!
    Your story was incredible! I am very speechless and heartbroken :-( You should turn this post into ebook. I am sure that your readers would love to see you writing more about Josephine (Ling). In the meantime, I am sorry for what happened.
    ♥♥ HUGS TIGHTLY! ♥♥

  20. I am so sorry you had to go through so much pain and agony people use children as pawns so they finally ” wanted” her and then pulled the legal bullshit. It’s so unfair, you had the best of intentions only to help and your kindness was abused.

  21. you are such an angel to give someone the gift of a baby girl, I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to have and to lose this way. I hope for you that there will come this day of great reunion for your soul. I pray for you and your family.

  22. I feel bad for you that you are so hurt,but the way you talk about adoptive parents (the grooming comment,etc) is very unfair. Not all adoptive parents are that way. My sister is an adopted mother and she is more than generous with her open adoption.
    You have to remember this is a child you did not plan on keeping from the get go.

    1. And only someone on the other side of adoption would say something like that.

  23. Sadie, you have to believe that you will find her one day. I just helped a friend find her son after 32 years. She also had an “open adoption”. If you need help finding her let me know, I will help anyway I can.

  24. i had somehting happen like this to me execpt it was my bestfriend and she was preg she wanted and abortion and i knew the father wanted the baby . i decided to adopt the baby my husband and i and we and the birth father would raise it . she did nothing with the baby she had him and the hospital called me he became mine at 6 hrs old till he was almost 1 in the state im in they can change the mind before age 2 … and she did just that and took him from me .. and the father wasnt on his bcert so he had no rights … i couldnt stand it but i didnt have an att or the ,money to get one so i had to let him go.. he is now 5 and i see him thru pics on her mom’s fb but i cant stand to know i raised him until he was almost 2 i miss him i call him my baby boy blue…

    1. I can’t even imagine the pain you must feel. For someone to do that to their own child is a disgrace. I’m so sorry.

  25. I don’t know what to say your story made me cry. Let’s just all hope that Ling is in good hands and shes living the life that she deserves. It is in Gods will that you two were separated but who know maybe years from now you will meet her again. I wish you all the best in life, you deserve to be happy.

  26. My heart aches for you knowing your pain. I gave up a baby for adoption shortly after you did and it was the worst thing I’ve ever done! That person who commented, “Remember this wasn’t a baby you were keeping in the first place” is simply wrong. Women bond with their babies during pregnancy, even if they are unplanned or not wanted at first. My feelings changed so much during pregnancy and especially after birth, when my baby became a reality to me. Unfortunately, once you look into adoption there is so much pressure and so much grooming, as you put it, that you feel like it’s your only choice, or the best choice, when it is neither! You are immediately matched with a couple, made to feel responsible for their hopes and dreams. There’s little to no objective counseling in surrogacy or adoption, because there’s so much money to be made! I have no words for adoptive parents who close adoptions and renege on promises.

  27. Yes, I’m sorry about this story.. It’s really sad and incredible. Well this is life and we should be thankful for everything that happens in our life )))

  28. Thank you for sharing this life story. I empathize with you love and pain. Virtual hugs????

  29. I am so sorry that this happened to you because the world can be so cruel just to get what they want and act like they never knew the person that helped them through it. I am happy for you that you have your three girls to help you get through the tough time.

  30. Thank you for sharing this. One day little Long won’t be so little, maybe she will find your blog’s about her, maybe she will find you through the system. <3 much love to you

  31. This broke my heart for you. I can’t imagine how you got through this. Hugs and much love to you!

  32. How Heart Breaking. I am a true advocate for open adoption and one day dream of being an adoptive mother myself but an open adoption mother. It is so important for that baby to understand their story… all of it. S, I have a feeling, will not give it to Ling. Much love, from one heart broken (for you) mother to another. You are a strong lady.

  33. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry you had to go through this :(

    Would you potentially have been able to keep Ling had you given birth in a state that considers the surrogate as the legal mother?

  34. I know I have read this before and I want to say how sorry I am that this happened to you. People suck sometimes. I’m thankful that my open adoption has gone well. I don’t talk to the adoptive mother often, but I am able to watch my birth daughter grow up on Facebook. I hope that one day you are able to get back into contact with your daughter.

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