"You don't have to be biologically related to be a mother," Susan Ring tells PEOPLE

By Caitlin Keating
Updated March 04, 2016 01:45 PM
Credit: Courtesy Susan Ring

Susan Ring’s first time as a surrogate mother couldn’t have gone any better – that is, until the baby boy was born.

“There was just something that wasn’t right, and I couldn’t put my finger on it,” Ring, 54, tells PEOPLE of the moments soon after the baby’s birth in October 2000.

“[The parents] weren’t that excited, but they said they wanted to do it again. I felt like I shouldn’t.”

But Ring, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, put that feeling to the side and went forward with another surrogate pregnancy for the couple.

During an ultrasound on May 10, 2001, Ring found out she was pregnant with triplets, but she instantly knew that the mother wasn’t happy with the news.

“It went to hell,” Ring recalls.

A Change of Heart

After digesting the news that they were having triplets, the mother and father asked Ring to reduce to twins, which she reluctantly did.

“If I didn’t have the reduction, they were going to sue me for breach of contract,” says Susan.

Then at four months pregnant (with healthy twins), Ring began to have trouble getting in touch with the babies’ parents – in fact, they were nowhere to be found.

“They weren’t calling,” she says. “The agency finally came to my house and told me that the couple ran out of money, were getting divorced and didn’t want the twins.”

Ring was in absolute disbelief.

“It was a really tough time,” she recalls. “There was the horror of the reduction and then they didn’t want the two that were left.”

Ring, a single mother of two at the time who was also running a daycare, didn’t know what to do.

Desperate for answers – and just one month before her due date – she drove over to their condo and walked up to the front door.

When they didn’t come to the door, Ring called the mother and told her she was prepared to make a scene if she didn’t come talk to her.

Finally, the mother came outside and told Ring the startlingly news.

“She said that her husband is bipolar, which was news to me. I was speechless,” she says. “She told me that the babies would go to social services after the birth and that they were my problem now.”

Fighting for Their Future

Ring was still in denial that the parents wanted nothing to do with their babies.

But when the twins were born on Nov. 29, 2001, the parents weren’t there for the birth.

Ring says the severity of the situation finally hit her when social services showed up to the hospital. (The couple still had parental rights and wanted the baby to go into foster care.)

Despite her attorney’s advice not to sue, Ring filed a lawsuit for breach of contract and within 24 hours, the parents said they would let go of their parental rights if she promised to drop the suit. Ring immediately agreed.

The first three months of the twin’s lives were spent with Ring. And although she tried to not get attached, she couldn’t help but form a bond with them.

“In my head, I knew they were never mine,” says Ring, who went on to become a surrogate for three more families. “I was only thinking about finding them a loving family – a mother and father who wanted to have them. I knew there was no way I could have taken them, but I was torn.”

Ring ended up finding the twins “an amazing home,” and today, they’re happy 14-year-olds who still keep in touch with their surrogate mother.

“Our relationship is great,” says Ring, who had her third biological child – a daughter – in 2012. “I always tell them, if they ever need me, I’m here for them. I knew I had to find them a wonderful home and I did.”

“I just knew that two healthy, beautiful babies were not going to go to social services. I couldn’t let it happen,” says Ring, who is now trying to find a surrogate to have a child for her.

“I decided that I want another baby, but this time I m the one looking for a surrogate. My fertility was everything to me. A lot of women know when they re done having babies and I never got that memo.”