Father's bid to adopt surrogate son dismissed 'on policy grounds': MSF

Father's bid to adopt surrogate son dismissed 'on policy grounds': MSF

SINGAPORE: A gay Singaporean man's bid to adopt his biological son, fathered by a surrogate in the US, was rejected "on policy grounds", the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Thursday (Dec 28). 

The man, a doctor in a long-term relationship, initially approached authorities about adopting in Singapore, but was told a homosexual couple was unlikely to get permission, AFP reported.

The couple then travelled to the US, where the doctor underwent in-vitro fertilisation procedures and found a surrogate who agreed to carry his child for US$200,000 (S$268,000).

After the son was born, the doctor was allowed to bring him back to Singapore to live with him. He then filed an application in Singapore to formally adopt the boy, now four, in order to "legitimise" their relationship.

Responding to media queries, an MSF spokesperson said the Family Justice Courts dismissed the adoption application as it was "a case of intentional and deliberate parenthood by a single to conceive a child through procedures which are not allowed in Singapore".

Under the Adoption of Children Act, any payment or reward to the biological or adoptive parents for the adoption of the child, except with the court's sanction, is prohibited.

MSF also said that Singapore’s public policy encourages parenthood within marriage and this "informs" its policy position on adoption.

Said the spokesperson: "Planned and deliberate parenthood by singles, as evidenced through the intentional use of assisted reproduction and/or surrogacy runs contrary to this."

MSF said adoption applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on the circumstances of the child and the suitability of the application. 

The applicant’s parenting capacity, parenting beliefs, family circumstances, support network and ability to meet the child’s long term are examined.

"In this case, the social welfare director, as the appointed guardian-in-adoption, opposed the application on policy grounds," said the ministry. 

It added that the Family Justice Courts makes the final decision on adoption applications, taking into account various factors, including the director of social welfare’s assessment and recommendation as the guardian-in-adoption. 

"The welfare of the child is not affected by the dismissal of the adoption application, and the child, who is a US citizen, will continue to be in his father’s care," MSF said.

The doctor, whose name has been withheld because the case involves a minor, is exploring his options in relation to the decision, his legal team told Reuters.

One of his lawyers, Ivan Cheong, said: “The primary reason that motivates him is that like any father he wants the best for his son, he wants his son to be legitimate in the eyes of the law and to ensure that he has all the necessary benefits to set him on the right path."

Cheong added that legitimacy would help with any future application for citizenship and access to certain welfare benefits, as well as removing a perceived stigma around illegitimacy “that you can’t really place a value on”.

Source: Agencies/CNA/hs/zl