Triplets Born to Surrogate Mom Melissa Cook Are Living in 'Deplorable' Conditions with Birth Father, Court Documents Say
"It's a horror story," Melissa Cook tells PEOPLE. "These babies don't deserve this."
A 12-page document was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday that details a nightmarish list of allegations against a 51-year-old single father who made headlines in 2015 when he demanded that the surrogate mother carrying his triplets abort one of the babies because he’d run out of cash.
The man, identified only as C.M. in the court papers, is accused of keeping the 18-month-old boys in “deplorable” living conditions in the basement of his invalid parents’ home and suffering from “serious personality and mental problems” that allegedly call into question his ability to care for the children, according to court documents. However, he’s not currently facing criminal charges.
“It’s a horror story,” Melissa Cook, 49, whose case about the constitutionality of California’s surrogacy statute is scheduled to be conferenced by the U.S. Supreme Court next week, tells PEOPLE. “These babies don’t deserve this.”
The accusations outlined in the document were made in an affidavit by C.M.’s 55-year-old sister Melinda Burnett, who came forward because she “felt a deep moral obligation to take action to protect the three children and give them a chance at life.”
C.M.’s attorney, Robert Walmsley, who is also a co-owner of the California surrogacy firm that matched Cook with C.M., tells PEOPLE the recent court filing about his client is “filled with a bunch of lies and false claims. It’s libel and slander…Do you think those kids would still be there if this was all true? It defies logic simple logic.”
Wamsley says the triplets “are doing phenomenal and are developing on schedule. He [C.M.] is just trying to live his life.”
C.M.’s sister was against his plans on raising the triplets on his own from the moment she first found out the news in a text message. “I am hoping that this is a joke,” Burnett wrote her brother in December 2015. “This is wrong on so many levels. . . I have felt sorry for you for years because I can see how lonely you are. But you have to be happy inside your own skin. Children will not ‘make’ you happy.”
The triplets were born in a Los Angeles hospital in February 2016. The staff allegedly became so concerned about what they believed to be C.M.’s inability to take care of babies that three nurses and a doctor flew back to Georgia with him and the infants in April 2016 to ensure that they would be safe.
“His incompetence and unfitness to care for the three babies was apparent,” the document states.
Days later, the head nurse was so upset by the situation at the home that she “called the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services and told the department that C.M. was unfit to raise the children, and the children should be taken from him.”
C.M., who is deaf and works as a mail sorter for the U.S. Postal Service, has lived with his parents for most of his life, according to the documents. C.M.’s father, who is “in very poor health” and “has a severe heart condition,” according to the documents, is allegedly a habitual chain-smoker who regularly fills the house with thick smoke.
Also living at the residence is his 28-year-old nephew, described by Burnett as a longtime heroin addict who has spent time in jail and has allegedly sold narcotics out of the house.
Burnett describes C.M. as “socially awkward,” “paranoid,” and prone to “frequent anger fits” and “childish temper tantrums.” He also has a history of “being cruel to animals,” his sister details in the court filing, and several years ago killed his two pet possums after “he tired of them,” along with a family pet when he was younger.
RELATED VIDEO: Surrogate Mom Melissa Cook‘s Shocking Battle for Newborn Triplets After the Biological Father Told Her to Abort
One of the most disturbing allegations in the document describes how C.M. has allegedly “been forcing the three young children (now 18 months old) to eat some of their food off of the dirty floor in the house. The floors are rarely vacuumed.”
Burnett also claims that C.M., who earns $750 a week, suffers from a “phobia” about spending money and refuses to change the babies’ diapers “as often as needed because he doesn’t want to spend the money.”
Months earlier, his failure to change the infants’ diapers in a timely manner allegedly resulted in rashes that became “so bad” the he was forced to take the triplets to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Says surrogate mom Cook, a divorced mother of four kids who was hired for $33,000 to have a child by in-vitro fertilization, using C.M.’s sperm and the eggs from a 20-year-old donor, “I want what’s best for those babies and it’s clear that he’s clueless and really has no idea what he is putting them through. They need to be removed from his care.”
Cook and her New Jersey-based attorney Harold Cassidy have been involved in court cases in California state and federal court, arguing that California’s surrogate law [one of at least 22 states with similar contractual surrogacy arrangements] violates due-process and equal-protection rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.
“The new facts that have just been learned illustrate the harm that can befall children as a result of these arrangements,” Cassidy tells PEOPLE. “This has never been about the participants, but rather it’s about the rest of us and whether we’re going to use the power of our courts to enforce contracts that violate the constitutional rights of children and exploit women.”