What happens when advances in reproductive technology and child custody issues collide? That is one question likely on the minds of Texans who have been following a recent case in Harris County.
The ruling on the child custody dispute may be a landmark determination regarding parental rights in Texas. Compared to the number of cases involving questions of paternity, this case is somewhat out of the ordinary because it calls into question a woman’s maternity.
A 48-year-old woman gave birth to twins in July. She was impregnated using a donor egg that was fertilized in vitro by a friend’s sperm. The woman says that the biological father of the twins paid for the procedure and promised to help raise the children. She claims she never agreed to be a surrogate mother and was not aware that the biological father was gay.
However, the biological father and his male partner took custody of the children after they were born. They filed a lawsuit challenging the relationship between the mother and the children on the basis that the kids are not genetically related to her, given that the egg used in conception was donated.
The case is complicated by the fact that money did not change hands and the agreement was never written down. The mother currently has only visitation rights that allow her to see the children two hours each day, six days each week.
The judge’s ruling on this dispute is especially important because it could cast doubt on the parental status of all mothers whose children were born using donor eggs.
Austin residents may want to follow this case as it moves forward.
Source: KHOU, “Judge to decide custody rights for surrogate twins,” Nov. 5, 2012