Today the consumerwatchfoundation begins to tell real-life stories … only names and locations have been changed… please share your own stories to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to https://www.consumerwatchfoundation.com/send-us-story/
I am the mother of a child born through donor conception within a same-sex relationship.
I am the non-biological mother to our child, my ex-partner and I agreed that she would carry our child.
Due to the complications during the birth of my first and the fact that my partner was slightly younger than I, it made more sense for her to carry our child ( a choice that heterosexual couples do not have).
We sought a donor who said he did not want to play a part in our child’s life. When my eldest daughter was six years old my partner gave birth to our new little one.
Same-sex marriage was not legal at this time – it was before 2014 – and due to the fact that our child was not conceived through a clinic and IVF there weren’t any definitive legal steps to securing our family unit.
Sadly, two years later, my partner left our relationship taking our youngest child with her.
In order to try and retain my relationship with our daughter – and my eldest daughter’s relationship with her sister – I approached the family court in order for them to support and help me regain contact.
I filed my case in 2015, and the case has now lasted four long years. Professionals involved have been biased, naïve and uneducated around same-sex parenting.
I have waited months and months between hearings, with no contact – so much for innocent until proven guilty.
My eldest daughter spent night after night crying herself to sleep, begging me to let her see her sister. There was nothing I could do, I felt helpless and any attempt I could make to establish contact could result in an offence of harassment.
She was so distressed she became physically unwell, she suffered at school and generally became reclusive and angry.
18 months into my case and things seemed to be working out.
CAFCASS then tried to re-establish contact but this was refused by my ex-partner. By this time two years had gone by.
Because the family court were unable to secure my relationship in a timely manner, my rights as a parent to our child, and my daughter’s rights to a relationship with her sibling were completely neglected and severed.
A psychologist was then called to carry out an assessment which lasted a few hours with a series of tick-box forms to complete. Due to the process being so protracted, by the time the psychologist had carried out her assessment she concluded that my daughter had no recollection of me any more and that only indirect contact would be suitable.
The court refused to acknowledge my parental position and denied me any parental rights over our daughter.
I am still astonished, bewildered and appalled by the whole family court process.
Nobody ever asked to witness me with my daughter or organised for my eldest daughter to spend time with her sister to see the relationship and bond they had.
In fact I was told that I was no longer allowed to refer to myself as a mother any more to our daughter.
Our daughter had always called me mummy and referred to me as such and now not only am I being prevented from seeing her but now I am being made not to use the familial name our daughter knew me as.
Not only did the family court fail to protect either child’s rights wishes and feelings but they also failed to fully recognise me as a parent and prevented me from calling myself a mother any more, completely destroying my family unit.
Through this horrendous experience and learning more and more I am now in the process of setting up a charity to raise awareness.