For couple, bids may bring baby

For couple, bids may bring baby

Staff WriterSeptember 14, 2005 

Here's an odd equation: "Advertise on a PT Cruiser = A Family through Surrogacy."

But there it is, item number 5614952457 on eBay, begging "buy it now" for $35,000.

A few nights ago, Shena Buttram and her husband, Enrique, lay in bed brainstorming ways to pay off their debt so they can save to start a family. Buttram is unable to bear children, so they've decided to enlist a surrogate, but it's a pricey prospect for a couple in the red.

They had bought stuff off eBay before: some diminutive clothing for their Yorkshire terrier and accessories for his PT Cruiser. And they had seen some wild ad campaigns from the likes of goldenpalace.com, an online casino that paid thousands of dollars to tattoo its logo on a woman's pregnant belly or splash its logo on a herd of cows.

"We thought, 'What would be unique enough?' " she said.

Suddenly it came to them: His beloved PT Cruiser was the ticket to Babyville.

So he posted this plea: "BID-BID-BID-BID-BID--HELP BUILD OUR FAMILY :)

In return, he is offering up three years of advertising on the body of his silvery car and a personalized license plate for a starting bid of $25,000. He promises the ad will get lots of viewer time on 440 as he commutes to work from Raleigh to Durham.

He also pledges to display the car at various and sundry Cruiser "meet-and-greets," where other Cruiser owners gather and shower their cars with love. There's one next month in Myrtle Beach.

The seven-day auction ends Saturday, their first wedding anniversary. As of Tuesday afternoon, they had gotten 522 hits but no bids.

The auction appeared to meet eBay's standards because it had not been pulled by the online auction site after three days. Officials at eBay could not be reached for comment Monday.

Enrique Buttram is 29 and a manager for AutoZone in Durham. Shena Buttram is 26 and a former kindergarten teacher. They don't have a lot of money. But they do have a step-by-step plan for what they'd do with the money.

Here's how it would work: Someone takes them up on their offer. They use the money to pay off debt and buy a house. They use the house to secure a home equity line of credit. Then they use that money to link up with a surrogacy agency, which screens potential surrogates.

Shena Buttram said that can average $60,000, though bypassing an agency can make the process more affordable.

The Buttrams are no strangers to the Internet. It's where they met, after a friend told him about her. She had a problem with her computer; he is a computer geek. He instant-messaged her.

Last September, they got married at the beach. (Check out their wedding picture -- her in shiny white, him in black satin vest -- along with their eBay posting.)

Initially, they decided to keep their auction on the down low, even though Enrique caved and told his mother.

"We didn't want to get other people's hopes up," she said.

But then they reconsidered.

Now they're trying to get the word out, locally and across the country.

Said the hopeful father-to-be: "We're e-mailing Oprah."

Staff writer Bonnie Rochman can be reached at 829-4871 or brochman@newsobserver.com.

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