Imagine: you’ve had six miscarriages in an attempt to have your first child. You find a surrogate who is willing to carry your child for £10,000 in expenses. Then half-way through the pregnancy, the surrogate decides she’s going to keep your baby.
Shockingly awful, no? And that’s not where it ends. A judge supports the surrogate’s decision to keep the baby because she is the biological mother of the child, and then the court orders you and your husband to pay the woman who stole your child £500/month in child support – even though you’ll never see the baby.
So is the court wrong here? Not necessarily. Here’s why:
The couple in this real-life case, detailed in The Daily Mail, only “made an informal agreement” with the surrogate, offering to pay her £10,000 in expenses. After the surrogate decided to keep the baby, the couple “relinquished their contact rights because they said it would be too difficult emotionally and that it was unfair for the baby to be split between two homes.” They even allowed the surrogate to keep the £4,500 they had already given her. But the couple wants to draw the line at having to continue to fund the child’s life.
The biological father of the child says, “She cannot say, ‘I am keeping your child and now you must pay for it.’ She has taken away our baby and now she is taking our money. To me, that is completely wrong. The CSA has made the decision as if we were a couple who had broken up, but our situation is unique.”
Quite the contrary, the biological mother has every right in this instance to keep the child, since in Britain “surrogacy agreements are not legally binding in court, even with a formal written contract.” (In the US, only eight states have laws protecting the contractual arrangements of surrogacy.) Additionally, though it was extremely underhanded of this woman to decide to keep the child, and possibly wrong of the court to award her custody, now that she has custody, she has every right to receive child support from the baby’s biological father.
The baby’s father says “he now suspected it may have been Miss N’s plan all along to have a child with a wealthy man from whom she could claim child support over the next 18 years,” adding, “We should have seen the signs when she started asking for more than we had agreed. I don’t think this was ever about her suddenly wanting to keep the baby, I think this was about getting an income.”
I’d feel more sympathy for the father in this case if he didn’t seem so arrogant, suggesting that “he would feel more comfortable paying for vouchers which could be redeemed on food and clothing than money which would not necessarily go towards the child.” He told reporters, “If I need to pay £500 a month because otherwise the child will be living in poverty then that is another reason why the baby should be with us. We would have given her all the things she needed.” It’s not fair to equate wealth with the ability to provide a happy home or poverty with the inability to do the same.
Also, either way you slice it, this man is still the father of this child. But it seems he is only willing to love and support the child if she resides with him, which makes me question his character. I don’t begrudge this couple their grief over being swindled, but they still have an opportunity to have a relationship with this child, which they have refused.
What’s your take? Is the father wrong for not wanting to pay child support? Is it okay to walk away from a baby you’d planned to raise?