A woman who duped a gay couple into a surrogacy arrangement has been ordered to hand over custody of the child by a High Court Judge.
Ms Justice Russell said it was in the “best interests” of the 15 month-old girl to live with her father, after determining that the mother (‘S’) – who had willingly participated in a informal surrogacy situation with the child’s father (‘H’) and his partner (‘B’) – never had any intention of handing over the child and viewed the father as no more than a “sperm donor”.
“I conclude that she must have either deliberately misled the applicants about her intentions or changed her mind as the pregnancy progressed,” said Justice Russell.
“On the balance of probabilities … I find that S deliberately misled the applicants in order to conceive a child for herself rather than changing her mind at a later date.”
The judge went on to say that the woman had used “offensive language” including “stereotypical images and descriptions of gay men” and had “insinuated that gay men in same-sex relationships behave in a sexually disinhibited manner” and were “sexually disloyal to each other”, reports BBC News.
The court also heard that the woman used breast-feeding as an excuse to deny the father contact with the child (referred to as ‘M’), and broke a court order forbidding her from having the baby baptised.
It has also been reported that the woman – who is unnamed to protect the child’s identity – repeatedly interrupted the men’s evidence during the proceedings, ostensibly under the guise of having to express breast milk. Justice Russell noted in her summary that the interruptions were “noticeably” fewer and shorter when the woman gave evidence.
The court ruled that the child should live with the father and his partner and that the mother should have supervised contact.
The ruling is the first of its kind in the UK where current legislation states that the woman who gives birth is the legal mother, irrespective of whether the child is genetically hers.
“I can only judge S’s ability to parent M based on recent history and based on that history M is more likely than not to suffer harm…in respect of contact or any other dispute she may pursue over M with H in the future,” Ms Justice Russell said in her summation.
“It is likely that S will present H and B in a negative way to M and give her limited opportunity to understand the history behind her conception and of how she came to be here; nothing in S’s conduct of her case can offer any assurance to the court that S is capable of doing that for M in a balanced way that is free from S’s own agenda.”
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