It is unlikely that anyone called before any of Queensland’s 35 District Courts on any given day is preparing to celebrate one of the greatest days of their life.
But, in the Maroochydore District Court on 25 February, that is precisely what happened for a young Queensland family.
Better known for hearing serious crimes such as armed robbery or dangerous driving, the courts occasionally play host to inspiring and joyous moments in which modern loving families are created with the assistance of the law, and a judge who seems to have found a calling as a family facilitator.
The matter was simply listed on the court list as: BA and SJ (Applicants) v LM and KA (Respondents) before Maroochydore District Court Judge Glen Cash QC.
The case was heard on 25 February, but Judge Cash’s decision was not made public until Monday 4 April.
Judge Cash, in a brief three-page decision, eloquently lays out why the matter before him is a cause for celebration, happiness and a privilege to preside over.
“This is an application for a parentage order under the Surrogacy Act 2010 in respect of a child I will refer to as DH,” Judge Cash said. “The present application is made to give effect to the surrogacy arrangement and to recognise the applicants as DH’s parents. It is the second time I have had the pleasure of meeting the applicants and approving a surrogacy arrangement.
“The first occasion was in 2019 in respect of a young girl who will be DH’s older sister.”
At this point in proceeding, Judge Cash stopped, and offered his apology for how, as a matter of law, the hearing had to continue without any of the parties being named.
Judge Cash said: “Before I deal with the application, I wish to make some observations about the way in which I will refer to the parties and to the child.
“It does seem cold and insensitive to mention them only as acronyms, but it is necessary because it guards the privacy of the parties in a manner that is consistent with section 51 and 53 of the Act. As such, and without intending any disrespect, I will refer to the applicants as BA and SJ, the respondents as LM and KA, and to the children as DH and also PJ.
“(BA and SJ) are a married couple and apply jointly for the parentage order. There is a social need for the surrogacy arrangement as both applicants possess male sex characteristics, so they are unable to conceive.
“(BA and SJ) depose that they made an altruistic surrogacy arrangement with the respondents in January 2021. As I have mentioned, this was the second time such an arrangement had been made. For the applicant’s eldest child, the second respondent KA carried the pregnancy. On this occasion the first respondent LM carried DH.
“Prior to making the agreement, all parties received counselling and independent legal advice. The first applicant, BA, provided sperm and a friend donated her eggs. The donor egg was fertilised, and an embryo transfer took place in late January 2021. The resultant embryo was carried by first respondent, LM, and on 11 October 2021 a child, DH, was born at a hospital in New South Wales.”
Judge Cash said it was now a matter for the court to be satisfied, on the evidence, whether the proposed parentage order would be for the wellbeing, and in the best interests, of DH.
“The evidence shows that the applicants have demonstrated their capacity to care for children and have the parenting skills required to meet the needs of DH. The applicants’ daughter, PJ, whom I have already mentioned and who is present here in court, is a testament to their capabilities as parents.
“It is apparent that the applicants are a caring and loving couple. DH has lived with the applicants from just after his birth.
“He is already a member of their family and PJ is enjoying her role as big sister.
“The applicants are good friends with the respondents and have discussed and made plans to maintain the relationship. In due course, the applicants intend to inform DH about his surrogacy story and the role the respondents played in his conception.
“The respondent (LM and KA’s) generosity in becoming a surrogate for the applicants on a second occasion and supporting this present application is again a matter that ought to be acknowledged. “In the circumstances, I am comfortably satisfied that the proposed parentage order is for the wellbeing, and in the best interests of, DH. I make an order transferring the parentage of DH to the applicants in terms of the draft order that I have initialled and will place with the papers.”
Read the decision.