Baby switch at fertility clinic feared


A couple have discovered the much-loved baby they brought home from a foreign fertility clinic is not theirs. They are fighting to find out what happened to their own embryo - but through the ensuing legal battles, they have also come to love the child, now aged 2.

The couple had struggled to conceive a baby, so a friend offered to be a surrogate. A relative's egg and the father's semen were used. When the couple commissioned DNA tests to get a visitor's visa for the baby to come to New Zealand, the results revealed no genetic link to the father, egg donor or surrogate, the NZ Listener reports this week.

They do not know whether their own embryo was born alive and switched in the nursery and, if so, who is raising it. They have not been able to identify the genetic parents of "X", the baby they have raised, as the clinic has not revealed its records.

The couple's lawyer, Seonaid Abernethy, told the Listener's Catherine Woulfe that without any genetic records, Baby X was stateless, anonymous, a "scrap of humanity" with no passport and no identity.

The matter went to the Family Court, where Judge David Burns said: "The situation is one of urgent humanitarian need ... [The baby] has a right to an identity, a family, and to grow up in a family environment of love and happiness. That is able to be provided by Mr and Mrs Y in the absence of anyone else and this protective umbrella is currently under great pressure."

The couple want to know what happened to their embryo. But they also want to adopt the toddler they have brought up as their own, and fear that if they fail in their legal bid, the child will end up in a foreign orphanage. The couple hope the foreign adoption orders will come through in about six months.

The New Zealand Herald, September 29, 2013