Singapore

Court rejects man's bid to adopt son he fathered through surrogacy

Court rejects gay S'porean man's bid to adopt child he fathered through surrogacy

A gay Singaporean man travelled to the US and paid US$200,000 (S$268,000) to father a boy through surrogacy arrangements.

He brought the boy back to Singapore and tried to adopt him here. But a district judge rejected his bid to adopt the child - now four years old.

The Singaporean man, a doctor, had been in a gay relationship with a partner here for 13 years. They approached the Ministry of Social and Family Development to inquire about the possibility of adopting a child but were told that the ministry was unlikely to recommend adoption of children by a homosexual couple.

The man then travelled to the US, where his sperm was used to impregnate the egg of an anonymous donor using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures.

The embryo was then transplanted into the womb of another woman, who offered to carry it to term for US$200,000.

As the biological father of the child, the Singaporean was allowed to bring the child back here to live with him. He started adoption proceedings to "legitimise his relationship with the child", the court heard.

His application has been turned down by District Judge Shobha Nair. In judgment grounds released on Tuesday, she pointed out that the man, as a doctor, was fully aware that Singapore does not condone surrogacy. Also, the use of IVF is confined to married couples under Singapore law.

Having carried out the procedure in the US, the man now wanted Singapore courts to sanction the adoption by pointing to the "welfare of the child" principle, the district judge said.

She said the applicant was "acutely aware that the medical procedures undertaken to have a child of his own would not have been possible in Singapore".

"He cannot then come to the courts of the very same jurisdiction to have the acts condoned."

Lawyers Koh Tien Hua, Ivan Cheong and Shaun Ho denied their client was seeking to adopt the child to form a lawfully recognised family unit with his partner - in effect a gay family.

But Judge Nair was not swayed, saying: "This application is in reality an attempt to obtain a desired result - that is, formalising the 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 shut."

Then there was the issue of a large sum of money being paid to the surrogate mother.

The judge said the idea of a biological father seeking to adopt a child after paying a surrogate mother to carry his child to term reflects what the Adoption Act seeks to prevent - the use of money to encourage movement of life from one hand to another.

The welfare of the child was also not the issue as he would continue to be under his father's care, have food on his table and a good support system. He is also not stateless; the child is an American citizen.

COURT & CRIME