Father ‘More Than Just a Sperm Donor’

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In a ruling which underlined the central importance of a father’s role in a child’s life, a lesbian mother has failed in a High Court bid to expel her male ex-lover from a role in their baby son’s up-bringing – despite arguing that he was no more than a ‘sperm donor’.

The little boy was conceived after the mother – who was in a civil partnership – met the father on a dating website and regularly had sexual intercourse with him, hoping that she would become pregnant. She hotly resisted the father’s bid for contact with the little boy on the basis that it would emotionally confuse and harm her son.

However, in allowing the father’s application, the Court found that he also had good reason for wanting a child and that the toddler stood to benefit from his masculine input. Far from merely playing a procreational role, he had viewed his relationship with the mother as ‘romantic’ and had welcomed fatherhood.

Describing the boy as having ‘two mothers and one father’, the Court was ‘frankly puzzled’’ by the ‘intensity of the opposition’ shown by the mother and her partner, who also had parental responsibility for the child, to the father having any contact with his son.

The Court noted, “It may be that, in this case, there was, as so often in these sorts of situations, a lack of clarity and understanding between them. It may very well be that the mother and her partner…were looking for a mere ‘sperm donor’. But I cannot accept that […] he had, himself, agreed that his role was simply to be that of a sperm donor.”

Directing arrangements to be made for regular contact between father and son, the Court observed that it was ‘widely accepted that children do best if they are able to grow up knowing their identity and with knowledge of both their parents’. The Court concluded, “His father is another person in his life with other interests and experiences to offer him. There is nothing to say that a child does not benefit from more love than less love.

“The mother has got to find it in herself to work round her intense personal feelings in the best interests of her child. There must be contact and I sincerely hope and, indeed, believe that she will in due course find it in herself to present the father in a positive light so that the contact is enriching rather than a damaging experience for her son.”