4/17/2014 11:23:00 AM,
Jeff D. Gorman
(CN) - A woman who conceived via anonymous donor egg and sperm from a platonic friend is the legal mother of the twins she delivered, a Texas appeals court ruled.
Cindy Close and Marvin McMurrey III differ on whether they planned to co-parent the children or whether Close would simply carry the children as a surrogate for McMurrey and his partner, assuming no role in the children's upbringing.
They did not put their agreement in writing, and Close gave birth to the twins in July 2012.
McMurrey sued her two weeks later, seeking a declaration that he is the child's father and that Close was "surrogate or gestational carrier" without parental rights.
Claiming that McMurrey had always known of her desire to have children, Close countersued for child support, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy and malicious prosecution.
Saving those issues for later, a Harris County judge declared McMurrey and Close the legal parents of the twins.
McMurrey appealed on the basis of Close's lack of a genetic relationship to the children, but the 14th Court of Appeals shot that argument down on April 10.
The only way a birth mother does not have parental rights is if she gives them up in a written agreement, according to the ruling.
"To be enforceable, the gestational agreement must satisfy certain requirements and be validated by a court," Justice John Donovan wrote for a three-judge panel.
One such requirement for a valid agreement is that the intended parents must also be a married couple, the court noted.
McMurrey had challenged the statute as unconstitutional because it allows a single woman to become a sole parent through birth by a single man only through adoption.
The appeals court declined to consider this argument, however, because McMurrey did not raise it before the trial court.