Surrogacy rights: ‘She’s my daughter in every way

Surrogacy rights: ‘She’s my daughter in every way

While there is potential for change soon, many parents of children born through surrogacy have no legal relationship with their children. 

Cabinet is reportedly due to approve the Assisted Human Reproduction (AHRR) Bill that would make parents of children born through surrogacy equal in the eyes of the law. 

Currently, only the father who provides DNA has unchallenged parental rights to the child. Under Irish law, the surrogate has the “presumption of motherhood”. 

Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery Kearney had her own daughter through international surrogacy. 

She told The Anton Savage Show that she signed her daughter’s birth certificate as the mother – but the minute she stepped on Irish soil with her husband and child, she lost all parental rights. 

“Both parents are on the birth certificate but when they arrive in Dublin Airport, the mother – or father if it’s a same-sex couple – has no legal rights under Irish law,” she said. 

“You’re immediately in limbo… I’m her mother in every other way, except legally.” 

While Senator Seery Kearney and her husband opted for international surrogacy, other parents may choose to find a surrogate in Ireland, where the same legal issues apply.

Senator Seery Kearney’s husband applied to the High Court to officially remove the surrogate’s parental rights, which took 13 months. 

‘No legal relationship’

After a few years, Senator Seery Kearney was entitled to apply for custody of her daughter – but only with her husband’s consent. 

“I was entitled [to guardianship] as my husband’s wife – not as her mother,” she said. 

“On her 18th birthday, I have no legal relationship with her. 

“Where that has implications is all sorts of things – who is my next of kin if I’m in hospital in the absence of my husband, inheritance. 

“If my husband and I, if our relationship broke down, he would have all the power – I would have no right to say she should live with me. 

“A lot of parents live in fear if the relationship breaks down or the father becomes ill.” 

Changes to surrogacy law

The AHRR Bill, Senator Seery Kearney said, will “hopefully” pass through the House by Easter. 

If passed, any future parents who use surrogacy will both be able to gain full parental rights, while parents who previously used surrogacy may be able to apply for parental rights retroactively. 

Parents would gain full rights in the High Court if they used a surrogate in a country where it is legal and if they were both always supposed to be the intended parents.

They must also be able to prove the surrogate had full bodily autonomy and support while pregnant.

Senator Seery Kearney estimated there are « thousands » of surrogate families across Ireland, each with the right to a full legal relationship.

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