Friday 24 February 2017

Case of surrogate child with no genetic link to father delayed

Ray Managh

In reply to the judge, counsel said there was no difficulty establishing the mother’s identity but there could be a difficulty establishing paternity (Stock photo)
In reply to the judge, counsel said there was no difficulty establishing the mother’s identity but there could be a difficulty establishing paternity (Stock photo)

A hearing to decide the fate of a child born through surrogacy, who was later discovered to have no genetic link to the man believed to be its father, has been adjourned at the High Court.

The child remains a ward of court, and in the interim, under the guardianship of the couple who entered a surrogacy arrangement with a woman in a foreign country.

This is pending the outcome of the litigation to come before the court in January.

The absence of a genetic link between the child and couple was first learned of when they sought to bring the child into Ireland.

When the case came before the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, yesterday, he was told by Gerard Durcan, for the State, it needs more time to get additional information concerning DNA testing before it can finalise its affidavits in the case.

In reply to the judge, counsel said there was no difficulty establishing the mother's identity but there could be a difficulty establishing paternity.

Issue of policy will have to be addressed and the concern was to identify what was in the best interests of the child, counsel also said.

The judge said the parents of the child would have to be notified of any application here concerning the child's welfare.

He was told a lawyer had confirmed in writing the surrogate mother and her husband had been notified of the proceedings and had agreed to the child being made a ward of court.

Sarah McKechnie, for the Child and Family Agency, said it had been asked to arrange for an assessment of the child, had done so and there were no concerns regarding the child's protection or welfare.

When the case first came before the court last September, Mr Justice Michael Moriarty described it as "unique" and imposed strict reporting restrictions preventing identification of specified details of the couple, their child (including its gender) or the identity of the country where the surrogacy arrangements were reached. Those restrictions remain.

In order to apply for the necessary travel documents to bring the child into the State, the couple needed to prove the child had a genetic connection to one of its Irish parents.

It was then discovered there was no genetic link but the child was allowed into the country on a humanitarian basis.

In cases of surrogacy, parents usually apply for guardianship and a declaration of parentage but the couple was told, due to the absence of evidence of a genetic link, they would have to apply to have the child made a ward of court.

Irish Independent

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