A High Court judge has criticised a lesbian couple and a male homosexual couple who are fighting over parenting rights for two little sisters they had by IVF.
Mr Justice Hedley said: “The four adults in this case regard the price paid by these two children as an acceptable price for the pursuit of their own adult disputes.”
The judge also said: “The case provides a vivid illustration of just how wrong these arrangements can go.”
A social worker informed the court that the older girl has suffered serious emotional harm.
The unnamed adults involved are the mother of the two children and her lesbian civil partner, now aged 45 and 44, and the biological father of the girls and his homosexual partner, aged 50 and 41.
The couples met after the women placed an advert in a homosexual publication in 1999 asking for “a gay man or couple who would like to start a family with a lesbian couple”. The men replied, saying, “we would love to be father and stepfather”.
The judge said the adults involved were “intelligent professional people” who agreed to have children through IVF “with the agreement and co-operation of all parties”.
But relations broke down in 2008 when they fell into a dispute over the girls.
The judgment, from the Family Division of the High Court, quotes a social worker who said the older daughter was caught in “a horrendous tangle of emotion and conflict that exists between these adults”.
The judgment continued: “The girl is being made to carry the responsibility for the failure of the adults in this system to overcome the conflicts between them.”
Mr Justice Hedley ruled that the lesbian couple should be regarded as “primary parents” while the male couple should be “secondary parents” to the girls.