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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Woman acted as surrogate mother for son's IVF baby, court hears

Man in his 20s told he may adopt his biological son after court is told how he embarked on ‘process of becoming a father’ with assistance from his own mother

A woman acted as a surrogate mother for a baby whose biological father is her adult son, a family court judge has been told.

The man, who is in his mid-20s and lives alone, had taken advice from specialist lawyers before embarking on the “process of becoming a father”, Mrs Justice Theis heard. He had looked after the little boy – now seven months old – since birth. Theis has ruled that he can adopt.

Detail of the case emerged in a written ruling by Theis following a family court hearing in London. The judge said she had never encountered such a surrogacy arrangement before.

But she said it was “entirely lawful” and had been entered into after “careful consideration”. She said her paramount consideration had been the little boy’s “lifelong welfare”. And she said allowing the man to adopt would provide “legal security” and meet the little boy’s long-term welfare needs.

Theis said the man’s mother’s husband had been supportive. She said another family member had initially offered to be the surrogate but had to withdraw for medical reasons.

The man’s mother – whose age was not revealed in the ruling – had then agreed to step in. Theis did not identify anyone involved.

“(The baby) has lived with ... his biological father since birth. All the reports describe (the man’s) care of (the baby) as being to a high standard,” said Theis in the ruling.

“(The baby) was born following a surrogacy arrangement whereby the gestational surrogate was (the man’s) mother. (Her husband) fully supported this. (She) agreed to undertake this role when another maternal relation, who had offered to be a surrogate mother for (the baby) had to withdraw prior to any treatment, due to her own medical position.

“This, admittedly, unusual arrangement was entered into by the parties after careful consideration, following each having individual counselling and with all the treatment being undertaken by a fertility clinic licensed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).”

The judge added: “The arrangement the parties entered into is not one, as far as I am aware, that either this court or the clinic has previously encountered and although highly unusual, is entirely lawful under the relevant statutory provisions.”

She said the man was in his mid-20s, lived alone and had worked since leaving school.

“The papers show that for some considerable time he has wanted to be a father,” added Theis.

“He waited until his circumstances were settled in terms of a job and home to enable him to provide the care a child would need. He sought advice from specialist fertility lawyers and licensed fertility clinics, to enable him to gain advice and understanding before embarking on any process of becoming a father. This is an issue that he has discussed openly with his family and close friends.”

Theis added that after the original relative had not been able to proceed with the plan owing to her medical condition, the man’s mother discussed with her husband the possibility of her becoming the gestational surrogate.

“They agreed they would suggest this to (the man). He accepted that offer and (the man, his mother and her husband) were seen at the fertility clinic that was being asked to undertake the proposed treatment.

“They discussed the position with the medical director and each had individual and joint counselling sessions with the independent counsellor to discuss the long term implications of the proposed arrangement.

“Prior to the counselling taking place, the clinic had discussed what the medical director referred to as this ‘unique case’.
“Subject to nothing of concern arising in the required counselling, the clinic agreed it would proceed with the treatment.

“The counselling was completed and the treatment proceeded. An embryo was created using a donor egg and (the man’s) sperm, following transfer of the embryo to (the man’s mother) she carried (the baby) and he was born at full term.”

The judge said family court litigation began after the man issued an adoption application. She said a social worker had met everyone involved and recommended allowing the man to adopt. “The court’s paramount consideration is (the little boy’s) lifelong welfare,” said Theis.

“What is apparent from the reports is that the parties thought carefully about this arrangement, pausing, reflecting and seeking advice at each stage.”


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