Dutch court grants Belgian father access to surrogate child
Court recognised a Belgian man's right of access to a daughter he fathered with a surrogate mother.
THE HAGUE - A Dutch appeals court Tuesday recognised a Belgian man's right of access to a daughter he fathered with a surrogate mother, but ordered that the child remain with her Dutch foster family.
The appeals court in Arnhem, in the eastern Netherlands, ruled "admissible" a bid by Bart Philtjens for parental access to now three-year-old Donna, but denied his request for immediate visitation.
"While the biological father has the right of contact with Donna, the court considers the establishment of a (concrete) parental access agreement at this moment to be in conflict with the child's interests," said a court statement.
"Donna first needs to be informed, carefully and with professional help, about her origins."
The case of the girl born in February 2005 to a surrogate mother living in Belgium has grabbed headlines amid allegations in the Dutch media that the baby was sold in an auction over the Internet.
The Dutch media reports have alleged that the surrogate mother was to have carried the baby for Philtjens and his wife, who could not have children, for a sum of 10,000 euros (13,000 dollars), but instead feigned a miscarriage and put the child up for auction via the Internet.
It is alleged that the child's current foster parents were the highest bidders at 15,000 euros.
The appeals court on Tuesday did not address any of these allegations.
Philtjens, whose fatherhood was confirmed by DNA tests, has failed in several legal attempts to obtain custody of the child. Three earlier judgments found that Donna should stay with her foster parents.
Now on appeal, the court once again declined to remove the child from her foster family.
"This court is of the opinion that there are no grounds to deprive the foster mother of temporary custody," said the judges.
Evidence has shown, they added, that Donna "is developing mentally and physically well, and that she is bonding well with her foster family."
Belgian officials have also initiated a procedure under trafficking laws for the child's return to that country.