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Child placed in surrogate’s care

An infant child has been placed in the care of his surrogate mother despite having no biological relationship with her.

The woman, ‘X’, had agreed to be a surrogate for a gay couple after a 30 minute meeting in a fast food restaurant. Sperm was donated from one of the fathers and the egg came from an anonymous American donor.

Although commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK, potential parents can offer women up to £15,000 for various expenses. In this case, the couple agreed to pay X £9,000. But soon after she had the embryo implanted, X was contacted by a woman who claimed she had been a surrogate for the couple before and had not been paid fairly.

When X gave birth in July, she decided to keep the boy in her care. Under English law, she was legally the child’s mother unless she agreed to a parental order in favour of the couple. When she refused to give up the child, the couple launched court proceedings to have the boy placed with them.

At the Family Court, Ms Justice Russell called the case “yet another example of the difficulties that arise out of the unregulated market in surrogacy”.

By failing to tell her about their previous surrogacy agreement, the couple had “deliberately misled” X, the judge said. They had “set out to deceive [her] and that is indicative of their lack of consideration, concern and respect”, she added. The judge said the couple had been “both manipulative and dishonest”.

X was “more emotionally available” than the couple and was therefore “better placed to meet [the child’s] emotional needs”, the judge ruled. However she also declared the couple could spend time with the boy for one weekend every eight weeks.

Read the full judgment here.

Photo by Paul!!! via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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