In France, one of several countries in which surrogacy arrangements are illegal, intended parents do not enjoy automatic recognition as their child’s parents. In fact, in some cases, obtaining parental rights is a lengthy battle. That’s an understatement for one French couple, whose twin daughters, Valentina and Fiorella, were born with the help of a surrogate in the United States more than 19 years ago. The French Court of Final Appeal has finally acknowledged that the couple who raised the twins are, in fact, their parents.
In 2000, the couple used the husband’s sperm and an egg donor to conceive their daughters. When the girls were born in California, the U.S. court issued a judgment of parentage declaring them both legal parents and they were able to obtain U.S. birth certificates and passports. However, France refused to acknowledge the couple’s parentage and did not enter the births into the French civil register. While surrogacy in France is a crime punishable by hefty financial fines and up to a year in prison, the twins’ parents avoided criminal prosecution because their alleged “crime” did not take place on French soil.
To be sure, the appellate court’s ruling does not indicate that the court suddenly had a change of heart. It took intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, which levied a €25,000 fine on the French government in 2014 when they reviewed the parents’ pleas for having their parentage recognized. This recent ruling also comes amid a growing movement among French legislators to bestow legal parentage on intended parents for children born through surrogacy outside of France.
At The Surrogacy Law Center, we are committed to helping protect the rights of parents who add to their families through surrogacy, and for their children. To learn more, contact us today!