Court allows surrogate mother to keep baby

A surrogate mother, who had a baby girl for a couple but changed her mind about handing her over.

Updated: Jan 22, 2011, 21:46 PM IST

London: A surrogate mother, who had a baby girl for a couple but changed her mind about handing her over, has been allowed to keep her.

Announcing the groundbreaking verdict, Justice Baker ruled that the welfare of the six-month-old child, known only as T, "requires her to remain with her mother".

"In my judgment, there is a clear attachment between mother and daughter. To remove her from her mother`s care would cause a measure of harm. It is the mother who, I find, is better able to meet T`s needs, in particular her emotional needs," said Justice Baker while hearing the case in Birmingham.

The judge said the risks of entering into a surrogacy agreement are "very considerable".

"In particular, the natural process of carrying and giving birth to a baby creates an attachment which may be so strong that the surrogate mother finds herself unable to give up the child."

He said the mother met the couple, Mr and Mrs W, over the internet in 2009 and agreed informally that the mother would be inseminated by Mr W, and hand the baby over after the birth.

During the pregnancy, however, the mother, who has two older children, changed her mind, and at T`s birth refused to hand over the baby as agreed.

Justice Baker said: "At the date of the hearing before me, T was five months old. The evidence from the guardian is that she is thriving in her mother`s care."

The judge said he did not believe that Mr and Mrs W or the mother had told him the whole truth about a number of matters. However, he had formed the clear impression that each was devoted to the child.

The judge found that the Ws had misled the court about how they got in touch with CL and that Mrs W came across her via a surrogacy website.

The judge also found Mrs W had told the mother that Mr W had been violent to her on one occasion, and that both Mr and Mrs W had concealed the truth about the incident to the court.

He was also concerned about their "startling lack of insight" as to the child`s needs and the difficulties that might arise if she were to be moved to their care immediately at the end of the hearing, as they proposed.

The judge ordered a review hearing for next month to see how matters have progressed, and gave leave to the guardian to tell the local authority about the case. There will be "interim visiting contact" between the father and the child until the hearing, to be arranged by the guardian.