You are here

Couple loses claim over surrogate baby

24 January 2011

A couple who paid thousands of pounds to a surrogate mother they had met over the internet have lost their legal battle to make her hand over the baby because it would not be in the child’s interest.

Refusing the father’s application for a residence order, Mr Justice Baker ruled in CW v NT [2001] EWHC 33 (Fam) that the welfare of the baby girl, known as T and now five months’ old, required her to remain with the mother.

“There is a clear attachment between mother and daughter,” the judge said, before adding: “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.”

The couple, known as Mr and Mrs W, posted their details on a surrogacy website and the 25-year-old mother got in touch offering to help.

Her first email to Mrs W read: “Hello sweetie… I’m a surrogate mother in the UK… and I am truly interested in helping you make your family complete.”

It was subsequently agreed that Mr W would inseminate the young woman and she eventually got pregnant. The Ws paid her £4,500 during her pregnancy but no written contract was ever drafted.

Some time after she became pregnant the mother changed her mind and relations with the Ws deteriorated. The couple suggested she intended to deceive them from the start and wanted to give the baby to somebody else.

Her last contact with them before Mr W applied for a residence order was a text message: “I wish you well in the future if u wanna chat just email.”

The judge said unreliable evidence, including discrepancies between different versions of email messages, made his task particularly difficult. “I do not believe that Mr or Mrs W or the mother has told me the whole truth about a number of matters,” he said. “None of the three principal witnesses has been entirely frank with the court.”

About the mother, who used the nickname ‘Thongs, G-Strings, French Knickers, It’s All Gud’ in a surrogacy site chatroom, the judge said her conduct during the proceedings had been “deceitful”. But he concluded that “despite the criticism, I acquit her of the charge that she deliberately set out to deceive the Ws from the outset”.

He was also critical of the Ws for inviting into their home a woman who they had only just met through another surrogacy site and turned out to be a prostitute with seven children in care who happened to be pregnant with her sixth child at the time.

He called their conduct “irresponsible” and their evidence “implausible”.

Baker J doubted the Ws would make the right judgment about T’s emotional needs, and, despite accepting that the mother, as a single carer, would have a hard time meeting T’s needs, he felt she was more capable of doing so.

A hearing due in February will settle the terms of a contact order between T and her father.

Categorised in:

Children Funding