When deciding to start or add to their families using assisted reproductive technologies, there is some comfort for many intended parents, knowing that state laws often include protections by not recognizing egg donors and sperm donors as parents of the children created with their genetic material. In a recent appellate court decision in Oregon, the court upheld this standard, refusing to recognize the child’s biological mother as a parent. The underlying facts of the case are unusual, however.
When now-42-year-old Cory Sause decided to help now-70-year-old Jordan Schnitzer father a son, she agreed to donate her eggs. She gifted the eggs to Schnitzer, her then-boyfriend, after his efforts to conceive using his sperm and an anonymous egg donor ended in failure. Schnitzer’s son, now 5 years old, was born via surrogacy after Sause and Schnitzer had already broken up.
Sause filed suit to be recognized as the boy’s legal parent, testifying in the process that she and Schnitzer had agreed he would have sole physical custody of the child. However, she claimed she believed she would still be actively involved in the boy’s life and would be recognized as his mother.
The appellate court majority ruled that, while Sause has a genetic connection to the child, that connection alone is not enough to confer parental rights on her, and found that she failed to prove she was entitled to legal parentage rights for some other reason.
This ruling highlights the importance of including clear language in any contract regarding the future wishes of the parties, particularly when those parties are known to each other, as in this case.
The Surrogacy Law Center helps intended parents protect their rights and interests in assisted reproduction. Contact us today in Carlsbad to learn more!