Z (Surrogacy: Step-parent Adoption), Re [2024] EWFC 20

Janet Bazley KC, Olivia Magennis and Melissa Elsworth, instructed by Jemma Dally and Marie Campbell of Goodman Ray, appeared on behalf of the surrogate mother in this case.

Alison Moore and Luke Eaton, led by Taryn Lee KC and instructed by David Wilson Solicitors, appeared on behalf of the Children’s Guardian.

The case concerned the application of a non-biological intended parent for a step-parent adoption order, in circumstances in which the parental order had been discharged by the Court of Appeal (reported as Re C (Surrogacy: Consent) [2023] EWCA Civ 16). In the first case of its kind, the court had to consider whether a step-parent adoption order should be made, extinguishing the ties between the child and the traditional surrogate, in circumstances in which a parental order could not be made.  

The application was supported by the Local Authority and the Guardian and opposed by the surrogate mother. After considering the ‘difficult and challenging issues, both factually and legally’, the court determined that it would not make a step-parent adoption order (meaning that the surrogate mother retained legal parentage and parental responsibility for the child). Instead, Mrs Justice Theis ordered that the child would continue to live with the intended parents under a ‘lives with’ order (as had been agreed by the surrogate mother), made a free-standing order for the non-biological intended parent to have parental responsibility, made a ‘spends time with’ order in the surrogate mother’s favour, and made a series of Specific Issue Orders and Prohibited Steps Orders in order to regulate the three adults’ use of parental responsibility.

Full Judgment

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