We’ve got exciting news in surrogacy law in Sweden! There was a positive decision out of Sweden recently concerning a child born through surrogacy in the United States. On December 17, 2019, the Swedish Supreme Court decided that a US court decision on maternity should be recognized in Sweden. Prior to this decision, a foreign court order establishing maternity had not been accepted, as Sweden applies the doctrine of mater est, meaning that the woman who gave birth is the legal mother. Sweden does, however, recognize, foreign paternity orders.
The case involved a single Swedish mother who completed a gestational surrogacy journey in the United States using a donor egg and donor sperm. She returned to Sweden with a US court order establishing her parentage rights. She attempted to establish a legal child–parent relationship in Sweden through an adoption but the Court denied the adoption on the grounds that money paid for the surrogacy arrangement violated the ban on payments in the Swedish adoption legislation. The District court decision concerning the adoption was not appealed.
The mother, instead, petitioned the Swedish courts to accept the US maternity/parental judgment in lieu of a Swedish adoption. The Supreme Court, referencing Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, providing a right to respect for one’s private and family life, found in favor of the mother and accepted the US maternity judgment. The Court stated that it is necessary to recognize the US judgment in order to safeguard the child’s right to a private life and to comply with the principle of the child’s best interests. The Supreme Court did put a caveat, however, that before recognition of a foreign maternity order can be considered, other means to become a legal parent, such as adoption, should have been exhausted.
While not a 100% victory for Swedish parents to get acceptance of US parentage judgments, the decision is positive step forward for parents through surrogacy. To know that the Supreme Court upheld ECHR principle in securing a parent’s rights over her child born through surrogacy is a win. Thank you to a Circle parent for informing me of the decision and Markus Holm Tylöskog for translating and helping understand the Supreme Court decision.
The article about the decision can be found here:
Dean received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Richmond and his law degree from Suffolk University. He began his professional legal career as a law clerk for Circle Surrogacy in 2004, where he assisted in all aspects of client legal work including drafting surrogate agreements and attending adoption hearings. He worked for Lawson & Weitzen, LLP for six years as a litigation attorney and was named a Rising Star in Massachusetts Super Lawyer and Boston Magazine in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014. He returned to Circle full time in 2011 and helps manage the legal portion of intended parents’ journeys.