British judge sides with surrogate against gay couple in custody case

Ms. Justice Russell

Ms. Justice Russell Dawn Ennis

A controversial case that started with a clandestine meeting in a Burger King restaurant has ended with a whopper of a legal decision in Great Britain.

A judge granted primary custody of a baby to his surrogate mother after finding the gay couple who funded his birth acted maliciously. They got only very limited visits with the now one-year-old boy, and also have to kick-in for the cost of his upbringing.

The unnamed woman agreed at the secret meeting to carry and deliver the couple’s baby, which reportedly would be created from an anonymous donor egg and the sperm of one of the men. They agreed to pay the British equivalent of $11,500 during a 30-minute  negotiation, set up by a covert surrogacy group on Facebook.

As the Daily Mail reported, the procedure resulted in the woman carrying twins, until she suffered a miscarriage and lost one of the fetuses. She made plans to abort the second fetus, but then reportedly changed her mind. The woman had the baby, and then decided to keep him — and the couple’s money.

That was in 2014, and two years later the custody battle has been decided in a British court.

Last week, lawyers maintained that the woman suffers from learning difficulties that rendered her unable to “consent freely or unconditionally” to entering into the private surrogate arrangement.

Ms. Justice Russell said in her ruling that the gay couple were “manipulative and dishonest” in their dealings with the mother and “at the very least, potentially exploitative.”

Since his birth in July 2015, the boy has lived with the mother and her partner and their six-year-old son.

Under British law, unless the woman agrees to name the couple his legal parents, she is his mother and will remain so. And she told The Mail that’s how it shall be.

“He is my little boy. I gave birth to him. I felt him kick for the first time. I’m the one now breastfeeding him. He’s happy and so loved. I’m absolutely terrified I’m going to lose him.”

The judge ruled the couple will only be able to visit one weekend every 8 weeks, and responsibility for the boy’s welfare will be split between his mother and her partner and the biological father.

 

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