A high court judge has euphemistically called the “mutual loathing” felt by a pair of gay and lesbian couples who had children together the “potential pitfalls of modern life”, and has criticised the “harm” caused to the two daughters by the bitter court battle over them.
The case, which is being seen by Mr Justice Cobb arose after two gay men in a relationship took the decision to help two lesbian friends have children by donating sperm. Although the elder of the two children conceived is only in her early teens, the court battle has already dragged on for six years and has fostered feelings of deep “mutual loathing” between the parties, reports The Independent.
The children’s parents, as they know them, are the two lesbian mothers who were opposed to their wards having contact with the gay males, despite one of them having provided the semen necessary for the conception. This refusal caused offence to the men, who had applied for the right to see the children a couple of years after the second girl was born.
The judge said the girls, aged 13 and 9 had been damaged by the experience, after the mothers went on the defensive, erecting a “high-wall fortress” around them and the daughters, cutting them off from anyone trying to get close, and even anyone who disagreed with them. One of the mothers had been in and out of the healthcare system for mental health issues, and the other was described as “controlling” and “callous and uncaring”. The fathers had inflamed tensions by claiming the children were at risk in this environment, the judge said.
The unusual parenting arrangement, which the judge described as “wonderful” wasn’t the problem, rather it was “known-donor fertilisation” which was at fault. Mr Justic Cobb said “Friends and collaborators in this wonderful endeavour of creating a family, have become to some extent strangers, harbouring strong feelings of mutual distrust and reciprocal aversion”.
“The case illustrates all too clearly the immense difficulties which can be unleashed when families are created by known-donor fertilisation … Thoughtful and sophisticated people find themselves experiencing remarkable, unprecedented, emotional difficulty, with no easy way of out of it”.
Noting it was the most “bruising and distressing” case he had ever presided over, the judge ordered that the children would continue to live with their mothers. This was despite evidence of domestic violence in the household and mental health issues, but they would live under under the supervision of social services, and would receive limited contact from the fathers. He said: “I fear that the childhoods of A and B have been irredeemably marred by the on-going court conflict.
This is not the first time the trials and tribulations of lesbian parents seeking to enjoy parenthood has made it into the news. While this case revolved around the problems arising from “known-donor fertilisation”, another couple had reason to complain after anonymous insemination. The couple in Ohio, America requested sperm from a “blonde, blue eyed” donor, but were shocked to discover they had accidentally been given fluid from a black man.
The court case over the mixup centred on the additional stress caused to the lesbian couple, bringing up a bi-racial baby in an “intolerant”, predominantly white town.