After a four-year-long court battle, this same-sex couple from Singapore have finally been allowed by the nation’s High Court to adopt their son who was conceived via surrogacy in the United States. This is the first ruling of its kind in the country and the first legal acknowledgement of same-sex families.
According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the couple (with the pseudonyms “James” and “Shawn”) had applied for James to adopt their surrogate son in December 2014.
James, who works as a doctor, and Shawn, who works in marketing, are both 45-year-old Singaporean citizens. They have been in a relationship for 13 years and have been living together since 2003. James is the biological father of their 4-year-old son, while Shawn is not.
This was treated as a single-parent adoption in hopes of making it easier for their son to obtain a Singaporean citizenship. Previously, their son was rejected for citizenship when his fathers applied for adoption and was on a dependent’s pass that had to be renewed every six months. Since James and the surrogate mother who carried their son were not married and the birth happened in the United States, the child was considered to be born out of wedlock and an American citizen.
In 2017, James and Shawn’s bid was rejected by the Singapore Family Justice Courts, but they appealed the decision in High Court this year. The appeal was then approved and Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ruled for the adoption to go through today (17th December).
The approval for this adoption was for the child’s welfare and to increase his prospects of obtaining a Singaporean citizenship.
While the court also considered Singapore’s policy regarding same-sex families, it was determined that this issue was not as important as the welfare of the child, which needed to be prioritised, according to the judge. James’s lawyer, Ivan Cheong, told the daily,
“In the current case, notwithstanding that the court found that there is a public policy in favour of parenthood within the marriage and a policy against the formation of same-sex units, the court found that the welfare of the child would be significantly promoted if an adoption order was made. At the end of the day, it is about what is in the child’s best interests.”
James and Shawn were not present in court to hear the decision, which was made earlier today, as they did not want to get their hopes up. However, at 10.25am, they were overjoyed to hear the good news from their lawyers. James told SCMP,
“The fight to raise our family in Singapore has been a long and difficult journey. We hope that the adoption will increase the chances of our son to be able to stay in Singapore with his family.”
“His grandparents and us really want Singapore to be the home of our family. Our family will celebrate this significant milestone.”
Read James and Shawn’s full story on SCMP here!
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