Informal surrogacy arrangements, reached without formality or the benefit of legal advice, are fertile ground for anxious dispute. In one such case, the High Court removed a baby girl from the care of her deceitful mother and directed that she be brought up by her gay father and his long-term partner.
The mother (S) had known the father (H) for years and had offered to assist him and his partner (B) in having a family. However, the Court found that she had been intent from the outset on making the child (M) her own. She had described H as a mere ‘sperm donor’ and had sought to exclude him and B from the birth and from playing any part in the child’s future.
She had used her habit of breast-feeding M on demand as ‘a device’ to frustrate H’s contact with his daughter. She had also deployed social media and other means to pepper the couple with homophobic abuse and had had M named and baptised in her own religion without consulting H and in defiance of a court order.
The Court noted that contact sessions between M, H and B had been successful and that M was ‘alert, happy and relaxed’ in the couple’s company. It was clear that H put his daughter’s interests first and the Court found that he was the parent who was best able to meet M’s needs both currently and in the future. Parental orders were made in favour of H and B and, in the light of her past behaviour, the Court directed that S should have only supervised contact with her child.