France’s highest court has granted legal recognition to surrogate children, in a major turnaround that will make their daily lives easier and could lead to greater acceptance of new forms of families.
The Cour de cassation ruled Friday that, while surrogacy will remain banned in France, children born abroad through this practice will now be legally tied to their parents and will be granted birth certificates and immediate means to prove their French citizenship.
“This means no less than the recognition of our child, of these children’s French citizenship and of the rights that go with it,” said Dominique Boren, 51, father of a 4-year-old boy born in Russia from a surrogate mother, with his husband beside him.
Surrogacy can involve a woman carrying an embryo created by in vitro fertilization using another woman’s egg. In some cases the surrogate mother is also the genetic mother of the child. The procedures are used by heterosexual couples unable to conceive, gay couples, as well as single parents.
Until now, surrogate children were deprived of any legal connection to their parents, or any civil status in France. They were considered as children born from unknown legal parents, since their foreign birth certificates weren’t recognized. One lawyer has described them as “ghosts of the republic.”
Unlike other children born abroad to a French parent, these children couldn’t get automatic ID cards or passports, or register for state health care or other services.
This exposed them to frequent problems, because many basic tasks are impossible in France without an ID or authorization from a legal parent.
In addition to potential psychological troubles due to their incomplete identities, the children were also deprived of eventual inheritance, and faced major imbroglios in case of a divorce or the death of one parent.