I always wondered how someone could carry another couple’s child for 10 months and then hand the baby over with no strings attached. I guess it is not as easy a you would think.
An Asian couple have launched a ground-breaking legal battle to gain custody of their own twins -after a white surrogate mother refused to hand them over when they were born.
The twins were created from embryos made up of the man’s sperm and his wife’s eggs, which were then implanted into the surrogate.
But when the trio’s friendship broke down in the first few months of pregnancy, the surrogate decided to keep the babies.
Though she has no biological connection to the children, she is regarded in law as their mother because she carried them and gave birth.
It is thought to be the first time that a surrogate mother, with no genetic connection to the child, has insisted on keeping a baby.
The babies’ biological parents must now prove she is an unfit mother before they can apply for custody of their own flesh and blood.
“They may not be my eggs but I grew these babies inside me. I nourished them to birth and went through a life-threatening emergency caesarean to have them. I would be devastated if they are taken away from me now. The law regards me as their mother and I regard them as my children. I decided to become a surrogate mother because I wanted to help a childless couple. It was also important to me that there should be a friendship between me and the parents and that this contact continued after the birth. When it became clear to me that this couple, who are both professionals, saw this as just a business arrangement, and me as some sort of incubator, I changed my mind and decided to keep the children. I then bonded with the babies and now I love them dearly. It doesn’t matter that they are a different race to me. I feel like their mother”. Surrogate Mother called “Margaret” (not her real name)
So desperate is she to keep the twins that she turned down £25,000 from the couple to hand them over, telling them: “The babies are not for sale – at any price.”
Margaret lives in a cramped council house with the twins and her two sons, aged 14 and 16. They have different fathers and she has never been married. She admits money is tight but has spent more than £2,000 on cots and prams for her new arrivals.
The living room is strewn with toys and playthings and the babies are given constant attention. The Asian couple are affluent in comparison. They live in a detached £650,000 house. In the living room of their family home is a small wooden cow carved into a child-sized rocking chair.
The process is legal here – though arrangements made between a couple and a surrogate are regarded as a private agreement and are not enforceable in law.
The Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985 is currently under review. But this case is sure to fuel the claims of surrogacy critics who have long regarded the practice as fraught with potential problems.
In a preliminary hearing at the High Court this month a judge granted the father and his wife custody of the twins at weekends. They pick up the babies on Saturday morning and return them on Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately, babies are not a financial transaction. There is a connection there that cannot be sold, whether they are your flesh and blood or not.
This will proably be a drawn out legal fight. In the end, the surrogate will probably not win because it is hard to support a family of four children and pay a lawyer. These babies are going to be very confused.