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Monday, March 9, 2015

His brother’s dad: U.K. agog after mother acts as surrogate for her son, giving birth to her own grandchild

A British mother has helped her 24-year-old son become a father by carrying his child as a surrogate. In the procedure, the first of its kind, Anne-Marie Casson, 46, became pregnant using a donor egg fertilized by her son Kyle’s sperm.

Kyle, gay and single, had wanted to be a father “for some considerable time.” After surrogacy clinics across the country turned him away, and a female relative who had volunteered to be the carrier developed medical difficulties, Ms. Casson and her husband, Alan, decided she should step in and be the surrogate mother.

A family court judge ruled the situation was “entirely lawful” and Kyle has been allowed to adopt the baby — his son but also, legally, his brother.

Lawyers point out that family members are increasingly acting as surrogates in the U.K., but the Cassons’ case is unique: Kyle is the first single man in the country to have a child through surrogacy and the first to use his mother as the carrier. “I cried and cried,” said Kyle, describing his happiness at his son Miles’s birth. “I could not believe it.”

The Cassons’ case has ignited huge controversy: the procedure may have taken place in the sterile surroundings of an IVF lab, but the participants’ consanguinity raises the spectre of one of the few remaining taboos — incest. Twitter reaction to the story ranged from “nothing wrong with this” to “gross,” “disgusting” and “selfish.”

Robert Flello, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, spoke of his “many concerns and worries” about the case.

Jill Kirby, a social policy analyst, finds it “very disturbing that any mother would consider it healthy or appropriate to give birth to her son’s child. What is even more worrying is that the High Court has granted the son an adoption order, partly based on the ‘closeness’ of the relationship between the family members involved.”

Ms. Casson countered these attacks by pointing out that Miles “is not biologically tied to me, other than he’s my grandson. I love being a parent and for Kyle to experience that. I would do this for him.” She and Kyle have said that friends have been overwhelmingly supportive.

Lawyer Natalie Gamble, whose firm was involved in the Cassons’ case, said surrogacy using close family members has become commonplace.

“We have seen many instances where sisters, brothers-in-law, cousins, help one another out in this fashion,” she says.

“It is difficult to speak of precise numbers, but U.K. law, which does not permit advertising for a surrogate or for a surrogate to offer her services, is pushing couples to look among family members for surrogacy.”

For Ms. Gamble, the only issue raised by the Cassons’ case is a legal one. “U.K. law does not allow singles, like the son [Kyle] in this case, to apply for a parental order, or birth certificate; so the young man had to apply for an adoption order instead,” she says.

‘I love being a parent and for Kyle to experience that. I would do this for him’

She is campaigning to change the law, which she says condemns children to forfeit “a U.K. birth certificate which reflects their true parentage, and instead must either become adopted children, or live in limbo without resolved legal status.”

A report described how baby Miles, now eight months old, “clearly has formulated a secure attachment to the father,” adding: “The father understands that the child will need to know about how he was conceived and feels that he will utilize the security of the family structure to support his son in understanding that he is a very much wanted child.”

The Cassons’ case has set a precedent. More and more unconventional conceptions like theirs are likely to ensue.

“I did not choose to be gay. I was born that way. I was born unable to have kids,’’ said Kyle Casson. ‘‘Being a dad was a high priority in my life and now I have done it.”


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