Law still muddy over surrogate baby
27 October 2005, BRUSSELS — The legal situation around Belgian surrogate baby D. remains complex following a court ruling in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
27 October 2005
BRUSSELS — The legal situation around Belgian surrogate baby D. remains complex following a court ruling in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
However, the Dutch couple that is trying to adopt the baby is a step closer to keeping the eight-month old girl despite the fact it failed to win outright custody on Wednesday.
The court ruled that the baby — who was allegedly sold by her Flemish mother to the Dutch couple in February for EUR 15,000 — may temporarily stay with the Dutch heterosexual couple.
The Utrecht Children's Court in the Netherlands ruled that the Dutch couple has a right to an undisturbed family life, but nevertheless refused to award it custody.
The court said there was no legal basis to rule in favour of the Dutch couple's request to take parental authority away from the Belgian biological parents; the surrogate mother and the biological father.
As Dutch and Belgian media struggled to interpret the ruling, journalists decided that the Dutch couple's chances of keeping the baby had improved because the court said there were indications of "family life" between the Dutch couple and the baby.
Baby D. was initially offered by her Belgian surrogate mother to a Flemish heterosexual couple from Herk-de-Stad, but An B., of Sint-Lievens-Houtem, changed her mind after giving birth.
She then offered the baby up for sale via the internet, initially to a gay couple from Hasselt in Flanders. However, the gay couple eventually refused the child due to ethical concerns.
The Dutch couple claims it paid EUR 5,000 to the mother as compensation for costs. Other reports claim it paid EUR 15,000.
So what will happen to baby D.? A legal battle around that question has been raging for months, both for Belgian and Dutch judges.
The surrogate mother still has parental authority over the child and due to the Utrecht Court decision on Wednesday, An B. will keep her custody rights.
However, the Oudenaarde judiciary in Belgium has opened investigations into the mother for improper behaviour. Surrogacy is not illegal in Belgium, but selling a baby is.
It is therefore possible that baby D. will not return to her surrogate mother. It is also possible that the baby will not stay with the Dutch couple because they did not respect international adoption procedures.
The Utrecht Youth Care Bureau has always stressed the baby should return to her roots in Belgium and if the child cannot be returned to her mother, she should be placed in a foster family.
However, the bureau said Wednesday's ruling changes that stance somewhat and it will now study the implications.
Various legal experts are now saying there are two possibilities remaining: baby D. returns to her mother or a foster family in Belgium or she stays with the Dutch couple.
The lawyer representing the Belgian couple who requested An B. to enter into the surrogate pregnancy refused to comment on Wednesday's court ruling.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian + Dutch news