We have blogged repeatedly about the perils of cross-border reproduction and, in particular, the difficulties being experienced by Intended Parents in securing passports for their newborns so they can return home. Unlike the United States, where any child born within our borders is automatically an American citizen and thus entitled to an American passport, the laws in other countries are not so liberal. In India, as an example, a child delivered by an Indian gestational carrier is not considered a citizen of India. Other countries, such as Germany, will not automatically recognize a child born to an international surrogate as a German citizen. As a consequence, parents of children born to surrogates in foreign countries may find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a passport for their child. Such is the case for at least 15 Irish Intended Parents and their babies:
AT LEAST 15 children born through surrogacy to Irish couples abroad are caught in a legal limbo which has left them either stateless or unable to get an Irish passport.
This is despite the recommendations of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction – established more than a decade ago – which urged the Government to regulate surrogacy.
Meanwhile, many parents say delays in resolving their children’s legal status is a source of ongoing stress and is likely to involve expensive legal action. One Dublin couple in their 30s, who have been stranded abroad in India for several weeks, say they are “tearing their hair out” waiting to have their child’s status regularised. “We are tired and angry with the Irish authorities,” said one of the parents, who declined to be named.
A 43-year-old man who had a child by a surrogate mother in India last year ended up using his British citizenship to bring his son into the country via Northern Ireland. “My child was stuck in India for five months in the end. I feel I was treated terribly,” he said.
Officials at the Passport Office and Department of Foreign Affairs, however, say they are obliged to work within the confines of the law which is in place to protect children.
“The passport is not a magic bullet – parents need to establish citizenship and guardianship for the welfare of the child. When that is established, that’s where we come in and issue a passport,” a senior official said. He stressed that the law was in place to prevent abduction and to protect the welfare of children.
Meanwhile, solicitors for a Dublin couple, Mike Coffey and Catherine Maye, have written to the Minister for Foreign Affairs demanding answers as to why their one-year-old daughter, Robyn, cannot have her status regularised. She was born via a surrogate mother in India but is now legally stateless. They say they face a prohibitively expensive High Court case to secure citizenship and guardianship for Robyn.