A child born through surrogacy who was later discovered to have no genetic link to a man who believed he was its father has been made a ward of court.

In a case described by a judge as unique and exceptional, an Irish couple who used a surrogate in a foreign country and later brought the child home to Ireland has been appointed interim guardians.

The difficulty arose after an Irish couple who used a surrogate outside the State applied to bring the child back to Ireland.

In order to apply for the necessary travel documents, the couple needed to prove the child had a genetic connection to one of its Irish parents.

At that stage it was discovered that there was no genetic link. However, the child was allowed into the country on a humanitarian basis.

The usual procedure in cases of surrogacy would be for parents to apply for guardianship and a declaration of parentage.

However, the couple was told that because of the absence of evidence of a genetic link they would have to apply to have the child made a ward of court.
At the High Court today Mr Justice Michael Moriarty granted an interim order bringing the child into wardship and under the protection of the High Court and returned the proceedings for mention on 7 November.

He also directed that the couple, who brought the application, be appointed interim guardians of the child.

Senior Counsel Mary O'Toole who represented the couple told the court they would be asking for specific reporting restrictions to protect the identity of the child and the couple.

Counsel for the Attorney General Gerard Durcan SC told the court that the State supported the application to make the child a ward of court. He said the child was currently living in Ireland.

Mr Durcan also supported an application by Ms O'Toole to serve notice of the proceedings and specific documentation outside the State on the surrogate mother and her husband.

He said it was appropriate that the surrogate mother and her husband be served with notice of the proceedings and given a chance to appear should they choose to do so.

Mr Durcan said there were a number of representatives of various State departments in court to record matters and make or recommend decisions that may be taken by the Attorney General or State agencies regarding the case.

Barrister Sarah McKechnie, counsel for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, told Judge Moriarty that the Agency would carry out an assessment of the child in time for the next court appearance.

She said the Agency did not have any concerns relating to the welfare of the child.

Ms O'Toole said there was no suggestion of wrongdoing by anyone involved in the surrogacy procedures or in relation to the care of the child.

Judge Moriarty said he was satisfied that the child should be taken into the care of the High Court wardship and that he had the jurisdiction to make orders regarding service of documents outside the State.

At different times during the hearing he described the case as very serious family law, which he considered "interesting," "unusual," "exceptional" and "unique."

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