A gay man from Singapore tried to adopt his biological son, born in the United States through a surrogate mother, and was rejected “on policy grounds”, said a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

A spokesman said that its policy position on adoption is “informed” by Singapore public policy, which encourages parenthood within marriage. 

The adoption application was “a case of intentional and deliberate parenthood by a single to conceive a child through procedures which are not allowed in Singapore”, the spokesman added.

The man, a doctor who is in a relationship with a male partner in Singapore for 13 years, had initially approached the ministry to inquire about child adoption.

However, they were told that the ministry was unlikely to recommend adoption of children by parties in a Gay relationship.

The man then travelled to the US where his sperm was used to impregnate the egg of an anonymous donor via in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). A surrogate mother carried the embryo to term for US$200,000 (S$267,680).

He brought the child, now four years old and an American citizen, back to Singapore to live with him and began adoption proceedings to “legitimise (their) relationship” as well as secure Singapore citizenship for the child.

His application was turned down by District Judge Shobha Nair.

Grounds of decision

According to judgement grounds that were issued on Tuesday, Judge Nair said that the applicant, a doctor, would have been “acutely aware that medical procedures undertaken to have a child of his own would not have been possible in Singapore”.

Assisted reproduction services in Singapore can only be provided to a married woman with the consent of her spouse.

Surrogacy is not “explicitly banned” here, according to the Straits Times, but the Health Ministry’s guidelines prohibit assisted reproduction centres from practising surrogacy.

Under the Adoption of Children Act, payment or reward to the biological or adoptive parents for the adoption of the child is prohibited, except with the sanction of the court.

“He cannot then come to the Courts of the very same jurisdiction to have the acts condoned… This Court is obligated to interpret the law and not make it. The law mirrors the morality and wishes for the majority of the Singaporeans,” said Judge Nair.

The MSF spokesman stressed that all adoption applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on the “circumstances of the child and the suitability of the applicant”. However, it is the best interests of the child that is the primary consideration when the guardian-in-adoption, in this case, the Director of Social Welfare, assesses each adoption application.

Factors examined include the applicant’s parenting capacity, parenting beliefs, family circumstances, support network and ability to meet the child’s long-term needs.

“The welfare of the child is not affected by the dismissal of the adoption application, and the child, who is a US citizen, will continue to be in his father’s care,” said the MSF spokesman.

LGBTQ Organisation PinkdotSG then released a statement after the Courts decision:

Related: Gay Couple Denied Surrogacy Rights in South Africa