Singapore court rejects gay man’s bid to adopt biological son born through surrogacy

A Singapore court has rejected a gay doctor’s bid to adopt his biological son, born in the United States through a surrogate mother.  — AFP pic
A Singapore court has rejected a gay doctor’s bid to adopt his biological son, born in the United States through a surrogate mother. — AFP pic

SINGAPORE — A gay Singaporean doctor’s bid to adopt his biological son, born in the United States through a surrogate mother, has been rejected by the State Courts.

The man was well aware that the medical procedures — such as in-vitro fertilisation – undertaken to have his own child would not have been possible in Singapore. He cannot then “come to the Courts of the very same jurisdiction to have the acts condoned,” ruled District Judge Shobha Nair on Tuesday.

The man and his partner of about 13 years chose to enable the birth of the child by having the in-vitro and surrogate procedures in the United States, said DJ Nair.

In Singapore, assisted reproduction can only be provided to a married woman with the consent of her spouse. And while the law here does not explicitly prohibit surrogacy, the Ministry of Health prohibits licensed healthcare institutions from providing assisted reproduction services to carry out surrogacy.

The child is now about four years old and an American citizen. He was born with the man’s sperm and an egg from an anonymous donor, then carried to term by the surrogate mother.

“Having so chosen, (the man) seeks to have the courts of Singapore allow the adoption of the child by pointed to the principle of the ‘welfare of the child’,” said the judge.

The legal bid to adopt the child “is in reality an attempt to obtain a desired result – that is, formalising a parent-child relationship in order to obtain certain benefits such as citizenship rights, by walking through the back door of the system when the front door was firmly shut”, she said.

The child’s welfare does not demand unlocking the back door, added the judge.

He will continue to be provided for, with or without the adoption order. The man can execute a will to address matters of inheritance, and there is no evidence the boy will obtain Singapore citizenship by virtue of the adoption, she added.

“An adoption order in this particular case serves no other purpose than to ensure that the interests of the adult are not compromised. It does not further the interests of a four-year-old child (who) will thrive anywhere if in the hands of loving people,” said DJ Nair.

The Adoption of Children Act did not envisage the specific situation of this case when it was enacted, but its tenor is to place children in safe and good homes if one or both biological parents are not able to provide for them, she said.

In this case, it could “certainly be said that the very idea of a biological father seeking to adopt a child after paying a surrogate mother a sum of US$200,000 to carry his child to term reflects the very thing the Adoption Act seeks to prevent — the use of money to encourage the movement of life from one hand to another”.

The judge noted it is not the place of the court to dictate to the man what a family unit ought to be, and the man is also not seeking to adopt the child so as to form a lawfully recognised family unit with his partner.

The man retains rights to the child as his biological father, she added.

“The child is no more vulnerable today however, than he was at his birth. An adoption order will not reduce that vulnerability nor promote his welfare,” said DJ Nair.

The man and his partner were earlier advised by the Ministry of Social and Family Development that it was unlikely to recommend adoption of children by parties in a homosexual relationship.

He was represented by lawyers Koh Tien Hua, Ivan Cheong and Shaun Ho, while the Attorney-General’s Chambers appeared for the Ministry of Social and Family Development. — TODAY

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