28 November 2016
ByAppeared in BioNews 879
A surrogate who lost a legal battle to keep her child has been granted supervised contact by the Family Court, although her attempt to regain custody has failed.
The woman, who is also the child's genetic mother, acted as a surrogate for a couple in a private arrangement but changed her mind during the pregnancy and sought custody over the child after the birth in 2015. However, the High Court ordered that the child, a baby girl, should live with the intended parents, where she has now lived since she was three months old.
Earlier this month, dismissing an application to have the case reheard, Mr Justice Colman said that the child and her half-brother, with whom she lived, needed 'some certainty and some predictability' in their lives. He added that to enquire further into where the child should live would be 'extraordinarily worrying and potentially damaging' to the parents.
However, in a separate decision heard in the days afterwards, Justice Colman did approve an order agreed on by all the parties that the surrogate and her sister should have supervised direct contact with the child twice a year, along with indirect contact in the form of an exchange of letters and photos.
'In my view it would do a great disservice to the longer term needs and welfare of the child to cut out now any further direct contact with her birth family, for the reason only of the events, however destabilising, of the last year or so,' he said.
Justice Colman noted that after the initial rulings against her and the subsequent failed attempt to appeal, the surrogate had campaigned at the homes of people connected – and 'several of them quite unconnected' – to the case, including the former Prime Minister David Cameron and the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby. She was also convicted of harassing the judge who presided over the initial hearings, Judge Singleton QC.
Although the surrogate had initially been granted a period of supervised contact, this broke down and there had been no contact between the parties for almost a year before the latest court hearings. However, since then Mr Justice Colman noted that the surrogate has said she has now accepted that the child will live with the intended parents and will stop the protesting and campaigning.
Noting that the parents were 'sceptical' and 'remain very scared of what the birth mother may do', he said that if the surrogate does choose to protest again then it would jeopardise the contact order – 'probably forever'.