Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Texas Woman Duped Into Surrogacy

This month, Texas courts reached a decision in an unusual custody battle between a gay man and a surrogate woman who claimed she was never a surrogate to begin with. The judge ruled that the woman who gave birth was in fact the legal mother. The case has drawn national attention because the basic argument rests on what the definition of a "mother" is.

Only July 27, 2012, Cindy Close, 48, gave birth for her first time to twins at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Shortly after successfully delivering the children, she was visited by a social worker regarding the “surrogacy situation”. Close was taken aback, as this was the first time she had heard that she was a surrogate. 

No, this is not a case of mild amnesia or a cruel prank. Rather, Close had been duped by her “friend”, Marvin McMurrey.

McMurrey had covered the costs of infertile Close’s in vitro fertilization (IVF) and used his own sperm in addition to the anonymous donor egg. He promised that they would raise the children together as partners. Although Close and McMurray were not in love, or even in a romantic relationship together, her understanding was that they would parent the children together. She was under this assumption up until the day she delivered.

However, McMurrey's promise was just in words, and there was never a written contract. When the children were born, McMurrey quikcly claimed custody of the twins with his male partner. That’s right, he’s gay - another fact he kept secret from Close.

Since Close was not linked to the children genetically, as the twins were a product of female egg donation and his sperm, McMurrey alleged they were not legally hers. He rapidly filed a suit for adjudicate parentage outside of the Texas family code in addition to a temporary restraining order that was used to deny Close maternal rights. 

The twins were sent home with McMurrey, and up until the court case, Close has been granted visitation rights for only two hours a day, six days a week.

Close made a statement that the ruling in her case could have implications for other women who use donor eggs in IVF treatment. If McMurrey had won the case, then the situation could have made it so that any woman who uses donor eggs to have children would have to have her maternity proven by law.

Lucky for Close, the judge ruled that she - along with McMurrey - was the legal parent of the twins and the two will share custody. The conditions of the joint custody are yet to be determined, but one thing is for sure, it will be awkward. 

1 comment:

  1. For couples struggling with infertility where the woman is not able to carry a child, surrogacy is a wonderful option to build a family.

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