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Surrogacy case leaves boy trapped in legal limbo

A baby boy has been left in legal limbo after a judge ruled that his biological father had no rights over him – despite the fact that the mother in the case fully acknowledged him as the father.
 
The case arose from a commercial surrogacy arrangement. The father, a single British man, paid £30,000 to become a father using a donor egg and a surrogate mother. The child was born in Minnesota in 2014, and an American judge has recognised him as the sole parent – with the full support of the mother. However, because he is single, the British court refused to do the same.
 
This unusual case has left the child without legal parents, and as a ward of the court for the immediate future. Sir James Munby, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, said that he was unable to grant a parenting order because he had no power to do so – despite overwhelming support from American officials and social workers. Although the law on adoption allows single people to become parents, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 allows parenting orders in surrogacy cases to be granted to couples only, regardless of marital status or sexuality.
 
Sir Munby commented that the difference between adoption law and surrogacy law was “very telling”, and as a matter of primary legislation could not be changed except in parliament. “Surely, it betokens a very clear difference of policy which parliament, for whatever reasons, thought it appropriate to draw both in 1990 and again in 2008. And, as it happens, this is not a matter of mere speculation or surmise, because we know from what the Minister of State said in 2008 that this was seen as a necessary distinction based on what were thought to be important points of principle.”
 
An amendment to the law was proposed seven years ago to address cases like the present one, but was not implemented.
 
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