High Court grants gay man’s appeal to adopt surrogate son
In landmark case, High Court rules that welfare of the child was 'first and paramount' over public policy against same-sex family units
In a decision that it reached "with not insignificant difficulty", the High Court has allowed a gay Singaporean man to adopt his biological son, whom he fathered in the US through a surrogate mum.
The pathologist father had brought the Pennsylvania-born boy, now five, to Singapore but his bid to adopt him was rejected by a district judge last year.
In judgment grounds issued yesterday, the three-judge court stressed that its move to reverse the decision was based "on the particular facts of the case and should not be taken as an endorsement of what the appellant and his partner set out to do".
"Our decision was reached through an application of the law as we understood it to be, and not on the basis of our sympathies for the position of either party," wrote Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon on behalf of the court, which also included Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash and Justice Debbie Ong.
"On balance, it seems appropriate that we attribute significant weight to the concern not to violate public policy against the formation of same-sex family units on account of its rational connection to the present dispute and the degree to which this policy would be violated should an adoption order be made."
But the court found that, based on all the case's circumstances, neither of these reasons is "sufficiently powerful to enable us to ignore the statutory imperative to promote the welfare of the child, and, indeed, to regard his welfare as first and paramount".
The biological father and his partner, both Singaporeans aged 46, first approached the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to inquire about adopting a child, but were told it was unlikely to recommend adoption by a homosexual couple.
The man then flew to the US where, through in-vitro fertilisation procedures, the embryo bearing his sperm was transplanted into the womb of a woman who carried it to term for US$200,000 (S$275,000).
He returned here with the child but a district court refused to let him adopt the boy.
This led to the appeal in the High Court (Family Division).
Lawyers from the Attorney-General's Chambers, in representing the Guardian-in-Adoption from MSF, disputed that adoption would advance the child's welfare.
However, the court found that while there is a public policy in favour of parenthood within marriage and a policy against the formation of same-sex units, the welfare of the child would be significantly improved if an adoption order was made.
It held that an adoption order would increase the child's prospect of becoming a resident Singaporean, which will significantly enhance his sense of security and emotional well-being, and care arrangements.
The boy's father told The Straits Times: "We hope that with the adoption order, it will increase the chances of our son residing in Singapore for the long term. Singapore is the only place we have known as home, and is where we wish to raise our family."