A surrogate mother in the U.K. has been ordered to hand over the child she carried for a gay couple after refusing to do so for nearly two years.
This week, a senior judge with the Court of Appeal judges determined the child’s needs would be better met with his intended parents.
The woman originally signed a surrogacy agreement with the couple in September 2015. She agreed to carry an embryo that had been conceived using sperm from one of the men and an egg from a Spanish donor.
But after a “falling out” with the fathers near the end of the gestation period, the woman had second thoughts. She did not inform the couple about the birth of their son until more than a week after the fact. Then she said she was keeping their kid.
That was back in April 2016.
On Monday, after a lengthy court battle, a judge finally ruled that the child, now 18 months old, must be returned to the gay couple, as originally intended.
Lord Justice McFarlane said that while surrogacy arrangements don’t actually have any legal standing (surrogacy is not legal in the U.K.), the child’s genetic relationships and welfare are the most important factors for deciding where he should live, adding that the surrogate mother was “less able to look at matters from the child’s point of view.”
He also said that, while surrogate mothers had the right “to change their minds,” that doesn’t mean they have the right to keep the children they carry.
The judge concluded by saying the case “demonstrates the risks involved when parties reach agreement to conceive a child which, if it goes wrong, can cause huge distress to all concerned.”
Though custody was awarded to the couple, the surrogate mother will have limited contact six times a year. She also remains the child’s legal mother since no adoption or parental order has been made.