John contends the surrogate is Jaycee’s legal mother, and the surrogate’s husband is the legal father under the Uniform Parentage Act (Act). He argues that under the act, a woman can establish motherhood only by giving birth or contributing genetically. Because the genetic contributors are unknown, the only candidate left is the surrogate. He argues that if the surrogate and her husband cannot support Jaycee, the burden should fall on the taxpayers. Contrary to his claim, in addition to blood tests there are other ways the Act allows paternity to be established that are not necessarily related to any biological tie. These include marrying the child’s mother or the case of artificial insemination of the man’s wife.
Courts must construe statutes in factual settings not contemplated by the enacting legislature. Even if the procedure in this case may not have been contemplated, it is exactly analogous to artificial insemination it that both contemplate the procreation of a child by the consent to a medical procedure of someone who intends to raise the child but who otherwise does not have any biological tie. If a father who consents to artificial insemination is treated in law as the father of the child by virtue of his consent, there is no reason the result should be different when a married couple consent to in vitro fertilization by unknown donors and subsequent implantation into a surrogate.
The common law doctrine of estoppel is also applicable. This doctrine has been applied in the artificial insemination scenario, and the fact that Luanne did not give birth is irrelevant based on the purposes of the statute with its core idea of estoppel. Between the two women who would both be able to establish motherhood under the Act, precedent mandates the tie be broken in favor of the intended parent, in this case, Luanne.
John argues that surrogacy contracts have been found unenforceable, but there is a difference between a court’s enforcing a surrogacy agreement and making a legal determination based on the intent expressed in a surrogacy agreement. The legal paradigm adopted by the trial court would mean that absent adoption, the child would be a dependent of the state. It would, in effect, make the default position adoption. This is inconsistent with both statutory law and prior precedent. The legislature has made it clear that public policy favors the establishment of legal parenthood.
The same reasons that impel the Court to conclude that Luanne is Jaycee’s lawful mother require that John be declared the lawful father. Parents cannot, by agreement, limit or abrogate a child’s right to support. Even though neither John nor Luanne is biologically related to Jaycee, they are still her lawful parents given their initiating role as the intended parents in her conception and birth.