Friday, July 20, 2007

The child, his mother, his father, their donor.

Okay I knew when I heard this yesterday that it was going to be an absolute mess of a case. I'll let you read it first. From today's Independent...
AN Irish sperm donor has secured an injunction against a lesbian couple to prevent them from moving to Australia with his biological son.

Two years ago, the man agreed to father the baby boy, who is now 14 months old. After the birth he had frequent contact with the infant, posing as his "favourite uncle".

But the relationship between the couple and the man soured when the two women complained that he had become "too close" to the child, known as HL.

They demanded a greater distance between the two, and the man only had two further visits with the child.

But when he heard they were about to go on holiday to Australia with the boy and were thinking of moving there, he brought a High Court action restraining them from travelling.

The case, the first of its kind to deal with the parental rights of sperm donors, is set to reignite a bitter debate about fathers' rights and the lack of regulation of the burgeoning artificial insemination industry.

Contact

In countries including Scotland, England and Australia, judges have ordered contact between sperm-donor fathers and their children. In Ireland, fathers have little or no legal rights to their children unless they are married or awarded guardianship or custody.

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the lesbian couple could not take the boy to Australia for a year, pending the outcome of guardianship proceedings here which will determine the man's rights. But in a stinging dissent, Judge Nial Fennelly rejected that the sperm donor had any rights to parent the child.

Earlier this year, the man secured the injunction from Justice Henry Abbott in the High Court, pending the outcome of his proceedings seeking guardianship and joint custody of the boy.

By a 2-1 majority, the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed the lesbian couple's appeal against that injunction.

Giving the majority judgment, Justice Susan Denham agreed with the High Court that the paramount issue was the boy's welfare; that a year was a long time in the life of an infant and the balance of convenience lay in his remaining here pending the determination of the man's rights.

The judge insisted that her decision could not be inferred as presuming rights for the father as those issues had yet to be decided. However, Justice Fennelly said the man's only relationship with the child "is as a sperm donor" and the injunction would inevitably alter the status quo in favour of the man.

This case was "utterly unique", but the course adopted by the High Court so far meant the man's right to have access would be established as a "fait accompli" before there was a full hearing. In his view, the High Court had mistakenly found there was a fair issue over whether the man had a right to guardianship.

In her judgment, Justice Denham said the lesbian couple, who have undergone a civil union ceremony in England, had wished to have a child. The man agreed to have a child with one of them by means of artificial insemination.

Relationship

Details emerged yesterday of the relationship between father and son. The man and the lesbian couple visited each other regularly after the boy's birth. The man took the boy for walks in his buggy, provided items to assist with the child and offered financial assistance, which was declined.

He had even opened a trust for the baby, but some months after the birth, the couple told the man that the parties were too close. The couple had made arrangements to visit a long-haul destination for a year from spring this year. The boy's mother was from Australia and wished her son to have an opportunity to get to know her family. The man secured an interim order under which the couple were allowed take the boy on holiday for six weeks and were restrained from taking him out of Ireland without the court's leave."


This is a huge quagmire. The ladies in question are in a stable relationship and have a right to travel with their son. The man in this case has clearly fallen for his biological son and wishes to keep him close. But at the end of the day-while I feel for his plight- this man willingly donated-and that should be the key word here- his sperm to another couple.
There is not doubt in my mind that the rights of fathers in this country is trampled on regularly. It is almost written that when couples break up the children stay with their mother, regardless of whether she is the best person to mind them or not. Access can be limited to weekends for fathers, and unless both the parents can be mature enough to genuinely put their differences aside and the children first, the outcome of family breakdown can be very grim indeed.
But that is another case.
In this case the biological father donated his sperm, knowing full well that his donation was accepted and used in the hope that a lesbian couple might have a child of their own. Of-their-own.
If he had donated a kidney to one of the women would he have a right to dictate to them where they could and could not travel with his donation? That's very glib of me, a child is not a kidney, but a donation is a donation.
The women also made a mistake-in my view- of allowing a relationship develop between the child and his natural father. There is a reason adoptive families do not keep biological parents in the picture as they rear their children. I do no see how it would be possible NOT to form a bond with your own flesh and blood.
No, this case is a mess. A horrible mess. If you want children without a father use a sperm bank. And if you are a man and you want children, don't donate your sperm to another couple and then demand to be included in their family.
It will be very interesting to see the outcome of this case.

Labels:

47 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel so sorry for that poor guy he was probably just like most guys and didn't think of it as an actual baby until he held his little son. What where the two woman thinking? First letting him maintain contact and secondly then when it suited them to just dismiss the guy like he meant nothing, the heartless bitches. I have to say I am dead against gay couples having children but that aside that child is old enough to know that man and know that he loves him, if they had any cop on they would know that every child needs a male and female role model. We know this is not always possible but that child has it, who the hell are they to rob that child of it in favour of warmer climates. This is the epitome of irresponsible parenting. They should give that guy full custody.

Incidentally if you follow that trial I bet you 152 million Euro and 67 cent that the guy was paying some sort of child support, some financial contribution anyway, I bet that either stopped or they didn’t need it anymore. I’m done now thanks/sorry
I feel so sorry for that poor guy he was probably just like most guys and didn't think of it as an actual baby until he held his little son. What where the two woman thinking? Fist of letting him maintain contact and secondly then when it suited them to just dismiss the guy like he meant nothing, the heartless bitches. I have to say I am dead against gay couples having children but that aside that child is old enough to know that man and know that he loves him, if they had any cop on they would know that every child needs a male and female role model. We know this is not always possible but that child has it who the hell are they to rob that child of it in favour of warmer climates. This is the epitome of irresponsible parenting. They should give that guy full custody.

Incidentally if you follow that trial I bet you 152 million Euro and 67 cent that the guy was paying some sort of child support, some financial contribution anyway, I bet that either stopped or they didn’t need it anymore. I’m done now thanks/sorry

10:15 a.m.  
Anonymous eva said...

In my mind this is an open-shut case - in that I agree with you FMC; the man willingly donated his sperm and knew exactly what for. It is the lesbian couple's child. Case closed.
I think the problem is that there doesn't seem to be any firm legal regulations for these things (?) and so they end up in this mud. Very sad.
But yeah, the couple should have never allowed him to form a bond with the child in the first place.

10:24 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry for dup post i can't use apple

10:29 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

"Incidentally if you follow that trial I bet you 152 million Euro and 67 cent that the guy was paying some sort of child support, some financial contribution anyway, I bet that either stopped or they didn’t need it anymore"

He offered it was refused. By the by, the father is also a gay man.

10:30 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That poor child i am disgusted.

10:40 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

There are lots of kids I feel sorry for, kids that grow up with no food, kids who live with abusive parents, kids who live with junkies, kids who live in constant fear, kids who live with psychotic mothers, but I don't feel sorry at all for a child being raised by two parents who love him dearly and really wanted him.

11:13 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think you would be the same persion you are now without both your Daddy and Mammy?

11:16 a.m.  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Couldn't agree more FMC. There are spermbanks out there, if you don't want the father involved use one. Were these the couple that were on an RTE program a few months ago? Can't remember what it was, but I remember the baby was a few months old then and they interviewed the Dad and the two women - seemed everything was going ok back then. They were in Cork methinks?

11:17 a.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

They should probably just put the kid in care, right, hey nonny nonny?

'Cause he might not have caught gay yet.

11:18 a.m.  
Anonymous MacDara said...

Sorry FMC but if you get out Legally Blonde you will see that this case has already been dealt with.

Annoy: Ccan you let us know how you would prevent gay couples having kids? Do you have a plan or are you just a raving homophobe that would like to deprive people of their rights without any good reason.

11:27 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah no now thats not fair, i am not homophobic i have gay friends, i really really believe thats a child needs a mother and a father. Yes the child could be worse off but why willingly bring a child into a situation that is adverse from the get go. i do not think a child needs to know what gay is? And say what you like but gay parents is far from the norm so questions will be asked, why should a child suffer becouse of there parents sexual preference.

11:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

A couple of years ago I would have agreed - but when I see babies with definite characteristics of both parents, it would be very hard to deny the blood father access to his own child. The lady should have had a contract with the man waiving all rights - it may not have stood up in a court of law, but at least it would have showed what was planned - but she also should not have had any further contact with him after the donation. It's very heartless to allow him to grow to love the child and then take it away. The fact that he is gay makes it even worse, as he may not get another chance to father a child.

11:35 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

"And say what you like but gay parents is far from the norm so questions will be asked, why should a child suffer becouse of there parents sexual preference"

That you would use the word 'preference' tells me all I need to know about your view of this case.

Shebah, it is awful and I feel for the man, I do, that's why I really believe donors need to remain annoymous.

11:42 a.m.  
Blogger P1P said...

Zero sympathy. none.

You donate sperm because people need it and you do it as a favour. To then decide you want to be a part of the kids life is ludicrous.

The ladies are the childs parents and have a right to raise their child where they like. They may have been unwise letting the guy get to know the kid but it shouldn't give him any rights here.

With the way society is going a kid is lucky to have loving parents. I have seen too many fucked up "normal" familys neglecting their children to have the slightest qualms about a stable family made up of same sex partners.

Maybe next time he jerks off in a cup for someone he should consider his actions beforehand.

11:48 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

"Do you think you would be the same persion you are now without both your Daddy and Mammy?"

My father died when I was young and I was raised by a lunatic mother with a whole host of problems. Sould I blame my father for having children knowing he was battling cancer on and off?
Should I blame my mother for having children she didn't really want? Is that not 'adverse'?
Of course not.
The fact remains that the couple at the centre of this case are committed and we have no idea how their child will turn out. Perhaps he will be the most charming delightful man in the whole world, perhaps he will be a monstor, who can say? But to be againt a couple raising a child purely on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation is ridiculous.

11:48 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah the old reliable don't like what somebody is saying, manipulate it. I spend the majority of my working week trying to mend broken little hearts and curtailing "tearaway teens" there is one shinny silver tread that runs through the overwhelming majority of these families, no dad!! Kids needs both a mam and a dad. Nothing to do with sexuality, nothing what so ever. Again i'm not homophobic.My apologies for the obvious offence.

11:59 a.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

"And say what you like but gay parents is far from the norm so questions will be asked, why should a child suffer becouse of there parents sexual preference"

That you would use the word 'there' in this context tells me all that I need to know. But then, I am a horrible pedant.

Gay parenting! Spelling! I'm for them!

11:59 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I don't disagree that kids need a father. I loved mine very much and without him my own childhood woud have been miserable. But it is a different topic than the one at hand here and we are straying inot an emotional minefield.
The situation here is that of a donor, who willingly donated his sperm to a couple, in full understanding that said couple wanted a child of their own to love and to raise in their family unit, who now demands the role as father.
It was clearly a pooly thought out plan and both parties have made mistakes, but what I don't accecpt is that a child growing up in a loving an stable environment should be at a horrible disadvantage because his or her parents are gay.

12:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry FMC seemed to cross, your situation is entirly different, whilst he may have died when you where young, you still had a dad and i'm sure you knew and loved him,he may not have been there in the physical sense but i'm sure through your child hood (and even now) his legacy is alive and kicking. Children of Gay couples don't have that. As for your mam, well i am a big fan off your blog and have determind that despite your rants we all know that you love each other dearly are the victims of an ugly personality clash, i to suffer with that but wouldn't be without her. So in answer to your question was your situation adverse? no it was not.

12:11 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

A very long hmmm to this.... and I should say I have some personal experience in this general area.

I heard this on some non-RTE news yesterday and then nothing about it on the RTE tv news I saw last night. Thought that was editorially very odd. Unless I missed it getting the tea.

Firstly, for those who think otherwise, it is not unusual for lesbian couples to have children, in this country, and to have a gay male friend, who may also be in a long-term relationship, as the donor.

Nor is it unusual in such circumstances for the biological father to be involved in the parenting. The female couple come to this arrangement because they believe it's better for the child to experience male AND female parenting. The fact that the father is a gay man is perhaps crucial to this decision.

My understanding of this particular case is that the parties started out with this shared view but that the lesbian couple became concerned that the man was forming too close a bond with his son, a bond that would limit their ability to determine their future living arrangements, given that one of them is an Australian national.

I'm for the father in this. I believe he agreed the donation on certain terms, in good faith, and now the female couple wish to move the goalposts to Australia. On the known facts he is entitled to joint guardianship and a full (legally underwritten) say in his son's future.

12:22 p.m.  
Anonymous MacDara said...

Annoy, You have claimed twice now that you are not anti Gay and also that you have GAY friends and yet you don't want them to have kids because people need a mam and dad.

Well if all the abouve is true why did you react this way when you found out that the Father in this case was also Gay.

"That poor child i am disgusted. "

Also you said earlier that they should give full custody to the guy but doesn't that go against your Mam and Dad theory ?

12:46 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

McDara, that was just an admin error, I can't use this apple. I was adding that to my original post I am disgusted the child would be deprived of his dad. My opinions seemed to have fuelled absolute outrage from the FMC blogger community that was not my intention, my point is simply that the little child is entitled to a mother and a father. I hope the outcome will serve his very best interests and not that of his irresponsible parents.

1:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O and as for the give full custody to the dad, well from what i have read so far he does not seem to be using the child as pawn.

1:05 p.m.  
Blogger Boliath said...

Get it in writing people.

Any arrangement with a friend that could go arseways (oo-er) needs to be written down to prepare for all eventualities. This is a sad case, I do feel for yer man, he obviously didn't think through the posibilities when he agreed to donate. The couple sounds like they have their heads screwed on and are doing what they set out to do, raise their child their way. It will all end in tears, could have been prevented by a quick visit to a lawyer and a written agreement.

Anonymous - your head is up your arse, "I'm not a homophobe but gays shouldn't be allowed to have children", "everyone needs their Mammy and their Daddy", really? What if Daddy is a raging perv who beats Mammy every night? What if Mammy sells the school uniform to get a fix? Children need proper care by a responsible adult, what that person does in the privacy of their bedroom is their own business as long as nobody is hurt it has nothing to do with you or me.

2:41 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I agree Boliath, when deciding such an important even all aprties should have a legal paper drawn, to protect all concerned.
Like I said earlier, it's a mess, an absolute quagmire.

3:02 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes all those thing are terrible, yes in those circumstances the child is better off without them but that doesn't give people the right to justify depriving a child of having a mother or a father. Why would any person willing deprive a child of that. I honestly can't see the logical.

Also i didn't abuse anybody for there opinions there is no need for that.

3:06 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

'aprties' was parties. It is a well known fact that I cannot type for toffee.
Anonymous, do you really believe the two woman in this case are using the child as a pawn?

3:18 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really do and regardless what others think i have no problem with gay people, they let that guy visit with there son, spend time alone with him they obviously know he loves him how could anybody with a shred of decency not only do that to the guy but deprive there own child. I would happily try that guys case for free in fact.

Incidently they did have a written agreement i'm sure you would have to, to leagally donate sperm

3:29 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

I'm not sure you do need one if it is among friends, and I've read nothing about one.
I doubt the women are using the child as a pawn, but I do-as I already said- question their decision to allow a bond develop between child and father if their plan was to emigrate. But there again, I also think fathering the child of and for a friend and expecting not to fall head over heel for it as you watch it grow and develop shows a remarkable lack of foresight.

3:36 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes indeed. I'm glad i'm anoymous, i could have been hunted down and killed, democracy my ass. I am retiring from blog reading. I am off to the law library. Have a delighful weekend all.

3:43 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Shall we have a quick review?
"There" is a noun which designates a place, as in "over there."
"Their" is an adjective relating to them or themselves as in "gay people have a right to raise their children without interference from heterosexists."
Excellent post and thread, FMC.

5:12 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

So, Medbh, should we infer you to mean that "gay people have a right to raise their children without interference" full stop? Because that is an untenable argument.

For instance because men and women often have children heterosexually before they decide they are gay, or before they self-identify as being gay.

5:45 p.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

Conan, I think we should infer her to mean that if you're off to the law library you should know the difference between 'there' and 'their'.

The correct spelling of the word 'legal' and its derivatives would merely be a bonus.

5:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, had to log back in to see what other unwarranted abuse I was getting. I graciously accepted all of your arguments I did not need to resort to mocking, it is a long established fact that slating a person’s character (that being my apparent inability to spell) is the surest way to weaken ones argument. Also if you scroll up you will see I explained my predicament I have a new computer I can’t use spell check, and yes I know after 7 years in university I should know how to spell but I think I be just fine.

I know I have pissed you off enormously and for that I am sorry, I feel sorry for all the partied in that case but before I go I would just like to go the extra mile and piss you off all the more, I am an active member of Fianna Fail. Have a lovely weekend!!

6:22 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

My comment was meant as a quick spelling primer and my declarative statement affirms that custody battles should not be targets of heteronormative biases and value judgments.

6:27 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Indeed Medbh. I think I read your declarative statement as intended. However, nor should custody battles be targets of homonormative biases and value judgments. Bias and value judgments come from all quarters.

In the case at hand the child has rights and both the parents have rights, and responsibilities towards the child. The sexual orientation of the parents is not an issue, really.

6:56 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

"The sexual orientation of the parents is not an issue, really."
I wonder about that Conan. If this were a childless hetro couple and a friend of the husband donated his sperm to them and they had a child, but then later decided to travel, I wonder would the views held be very different.

7:20 p.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

You're not pissing me off anoymous, have a cracking weekend.

7:21 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Conan, as this thread shows, whenever a case comes up about gay parents someone will always step in to say that it disgusts them and that a hetero nuclear family is best. That type of argument doesn't register any concern for the rights of the parties involved. Hence my statement. Naturally, all cases should be free of prejudice, but gay couples seem especially beleaguered by it so that you have to argue basic human freedom before you even get into the particulars of the case. Anon's responses are not only plagued by poor diction and grammar, but more so with reactionary views of parenting, ending with the "heartless bitches" losing custody of their son. You know, because how dare women choose to have a life that doesn't revolve around men. Heterosexism and misogyny go hand in hand.

7:27 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Oh, and homosexuality is not the norm in any society so therefore the concept of "homonormative" cannot exist.

7:30 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rights of the father to have a relationship with the child and vice versa have yet to be tested in the Irish Courts.In no way do I agree with the idea of being a sperm donor, it is an obscene act to father children without taking responsibility for them, knowing that your own flesh and blood are walking this planet without being there for them. However it does boost children's/father's rights in this country which are way way out of kilter with what a civilsed society should be. For too long children and men have just crumbled under the juggernaut of the Irish Family Law system. It is great to see a caring father wake up and smell the coffee.

2:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The child loves both the father and the mother and presumably the mother's partner.If the couple believed that it was right to allow contact for the child to the father and that had been the status quo up to now, it is grossly irreponsible of the couple to snatch that contact away from the child.Dare I say child abuse?
Everybody seems to rant on about the sexuality issue and all the polictics associated with that.I admire the guy because the revelation has finally come to him about the importance of fatherhood, regardless of his sexuality. He is tactically kick-ass in his legal battle.

2:44 p.m.  
Blogger Conan Drumm said...

Medbh, I beg to disagree on the semantic issue - normative values can exist at the level of any social grouping, whatever its size. They are not just confined to 'majority' viewpoints. Or so I recall being told in Sociology.

As regards your statement that 'heterosexism and misogyny go hand in hand' I would have to say, in my experience, that heterosexuals do not have a monopoly on misogyny.

7:22 p.m.  
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