ANTHONY RAFTOPOL et al. v. KARMA A. RAMEY et al., SC 18482

Judicial District of New Haven


      Contracts; Surrogacy Agreements; Whether Trial Court Improperly Declared that a Man who had neither Conceived nor Adopted Twins Born as a Result of a Surrogacy Agreement was the Children's Legal Parent. The plaintiffs, Anthony Raftopol and Shawn Hargon, entered into a surrogacy agreement with Karma A. Ramey, pursuant to which Ramey agreed to bear a child for them.  In accordance with the agreement, embryos created in vitro by Raftopol's sperm and a donated egg were transferred into Ramey's uterus.  As a result of the embryo transfer, Ramey became pregnant with twins.  The plaintiffs brought this action seeking a judgment declaring that the surrogacy agreement was valid and affirming their parental rights to the children.  They also sought an order that the defendant department of public health issue a replacement birth certificate naming them as the parents of the children.  They alleged that they were the children's legal parents, that Ramey was not their biological or legal mother and that Ramey acknowledged that she should have no parental rights to the children.  The department argued that the trial court had no authority to declare that Hargon is the legal parent of the children because he did not conceive or adopt them and he was not married to their birth mother at the time of conception.  While the department acknowledged that the trial court had authority to interpret and enforce the parties' surrogacy agreement by, for example, ordering Ramey to take steps to enable Hargon to adopt the children, it argued that the court did not have authority to confer parental status on Hargon pursuant to a contract.  The department also argued that the trial court did not have authority in the context of this case to terminate any parental rights that the birth mother might possess and that such termination was a prerequisite for the declaration that Hargon sought.  The trial court rejected the department's arguments and found that both plaintiffs were the legal parents of the children and that Ramey was not their legal parent.  The court, as a result, ordered that the department issue a replacement birth certificate removing Ramey's name and naming the plaintiffs as parents of the children.  The department appeals from the decision.