Irishman confirmed father of child born by surrogacy

An Irishman has won his High Court bid to be declared father and guardian of a two-year-old girl born in India under a surrogacy arrangement.

The girl is entitled to an Irish passport, Mr Justice Henry Abbott ruled.

Mr Justice Abbott yesterday outlined his reasons for granting the child’s appeal, brought via the man against the Circuit Court’s refusal of the orders sought.

The child was conceived via in vitro fertilisation using the man’s sperm and an anonymous donor egg. The fertilised egg was carried to birth in autumn 2010 by an Indian woman on foot of a surrogacy arrangement involving that woman, the man, and the man’s partner.

The man and his partner were named as the child’s father and mother on the birth certificate issued in New Delhi, India.

In the proceedings, it was argued the child is entitled to be recognised as an Irish citizen under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956. Before an Irish passport could be issued, the man was advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs a declaration of parentage must be obtained for the child from the Irish courts.

The Attorney General was joined to the Circuit Court case to ensure any order made would be binding on all State parties. The man’s partner was also joined because of her involvement in the surrogacy arrangement and because she is caring for the child. The surrogate mother indicated her consent to the orders being sought in the case.

Mr Justice Abbott said he was satisfied from genetic tests that the man is 99.999% likely to be the biological father of the child. He was also satisfied the child has habitually lived since birth with the man and his partner, who care for her on a daily basis and who occupied the role of holders of parental responsibility for the child.

He also found the surrogate mother had no role other than as a surrogate and was extremely unlikely to seek to play any parental role in relation to the child in the future.

Noting the interests of the child were of paramount importance under the Guardianship of Infants Act, the judge said he was satisfied the best interests of the child was to be cared for and reared in the “so-called de facto family” of the man and his partner. He was also satisfied it was in the child’s best interest to receive an Irish passport.

Given the child’s age it was inappropriate to seek to hear her views, he added.

On the basis of his findings, the judge declared the man is the father of the child and appointed him as her guardian. He also directed that the existing custody arrangements, involving the child being cared for by the man’s partner, should continue. The surrogate mother’s consent was not required for the issuing of a passport to the child.

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