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Gay Belgian Couple to Reunite with Son Kept from Them for Two Years After Homophobic Surrogacy Nightmare

Belgian

Laurent Ghilain and Peter Meurrens, a Belgian couple living in Southern France, have been separated from their son Samuel, whom they had through a surrogate, for two years and three months because the Belgian embassy in Kiev refused to issue Samuel a passport because of restrictive surrogacy laws in Belgium. Samuel has been living in a Ukrainian orphanage while they fight for his release.

Now, good news: Baby

The long and painful separation now seems about to come to an end. After more than two years of denying Samuel a passport, the Belgian Foreign Ministry issued him one Monday. He should arrive in Brussels within days.

The ministry's decision came after a Belgian court finally issued a ruling in the couple's favor last week, saying bureaucrats had committed numerous errors.

***

(Ghilain and Meurrens) say the Belgian official who worked hardest to prevent the baby from being allowed into the country implied in court that, because they were gay, they could not be good parents.

While victory appears to be at hand, Ghilain and Meurrens have been told so many times their problems were nearly solved that it frightens them to have hope.

Samuel is scheduled to arrive in Brussels in a few days.

There's much more to the fascinating and heartbreaking story. Watch the moving report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Turn on CC for subtitles.

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Comments

  1. What a nightmare they have lived through. So happy they got their baby back.

    Why would anyone think being gay would mean unable to love his/their child/children.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Feb 22, 2011 12:14:01 PM


  2. Wouldn't it be nice if the first word in that headline could be removed? It would mean the same.

    Posted by: Sean | Feb 22, 2011 12:41:28 PM


  3. Surrogacy definitely has its risks . . . LesBiGay couples should think twice before pursuing it.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Feb 22, 2011 12:49:36 PM


  4. Dear Belgian "authorities": Yes, spending the first few years of one's life in an orphanage is so much better for one's psychological development than is spending those critical, formative years in a stable home with loving parents. Idiots.

    Posted by: JOE 2 | Feb 22, 2011 12:50:04 PM


  5. Dear Belgian "authorities": Yes, spending the first few years of one's life in an orphanage is so much better for one's psychological development than is spending those critical, formative years in a stable home with loving parents. Idiots.

    Posted by: JOE 2 | Feb 22, 2011 12:50:05 PM


  6. These guys are adorable. I wish they'd adopt me.

    Posted by: C | Feb 22, 2011 12:52:55 PM


  7. I am not surprised; civil servants want to keep their cushy jobs and not rock the boat. With hindsight, I would have simply told the Belgian Embassy that the child was born of a Ukranian girlfriend and there was proof. The other solution would have been for the girl to spend the last months of pregnancy in France. Just remember that the government is not your "friend" and that bureaucrats are motivated by not doing anything that may jeopardize their status.

    Posted by: Sean | Feb 22, 2011 1:06:19 PM


  8. Sigh. How hateful to think that an infant could be better off in an orphanage than with two loving parents regardless of their gender.

    Posted by: sparks | Feb 22, 2011 1:06:53 PM


  9. Is there anyone who doubts that homophobia is at the heart of it all? I mean, I don’t doubt that if it was a heterosexual couple that used a surrogate mother two judges wouldn’t be so fast into denying the child the right to let him in the country. It’s almost unbelievable that even with DNA proof the father couldn’t bring his child home.
    This reinforces my idea that a LOT of all old people, educated in times when homophobia were the way to go, must pass away before we see a real change on attitudes in society, as they are more than fast to oppose in every little detail when it comes to gay issues.
    It’s also such a heartbreaking scene to see such a young, healthy and loving couple suffer that much under such an injustice. Hope they can reunite with their son soon and leave this nightmare behind.

    Posted by: Lexxvs | Feb 22, 2011 1:07:16 PM


  10. thanks for highlighting this, Andy. What a shower of backward pro Catholic pricks the Belgian authorities are.
    These two are so loving and concerned, they would give a great life to that little boy, their son.
    This subterranean bigotry is much more the kind of issue that we should be protesting/demonstrating about......the hidden power of the Catholic Church, through Opus Dei, is literally everywhere.
    This, I believe. Opus Dei have infiltrated the higher offices and professions and they have been years in preparation.
    No.I'm not paranoid.......and maybe it's not so powerful in the USA, But in Europe it, Opus Dei, is totally subversive.

    The bigots have fu&$ed up this couple and once again have abused this child........I guess the leopard cannot change its spots !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2011 1:37:24 PM


  11. The amazing thing for me was to watch the related video of coverage from Ukrainian TV.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeZGq9nYNlc&feature=player_embedded

    No negative judgment, no anti-gay bias, nothing but sympathy. Boy, the world has changed.

    I don't think there's as much anti-gay bigotry going on as some think. Of course, it's always a possibility, but I think Belgian politics and Belgian bureaucracy have more to do with it.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 22, 2011 2:51:37 PM


  12. As someone that pursued surrogacy with my partner for 5 years with no success (and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent) I find this story bizarre. The very first thing you do in the process is understand all of the legalities involved, and get yourself an experienced family court lawyer. The last thing you do is try and kidnap the child. These guys put themselves and their child in serious jeopardy. I feel for them, but I am shocked at their inability to do the research, and understand what they got in to.

    I suspect that there is actually a lot more to this story.

    Posted by: JP | Feb 22, 2011 3:02:19 PM


  13. "What a shower of backward pro Catholic pricks the Belgian authorities are."

    I seem to recall a survey back from 2005 in which 2/3 of Belgian Catholic priests supported full marriage rights for gay couples. I wouldn't be surprised if many of them have been silenced by the Vatican since then, but Belgium is hardly run by right-wing Catholics.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 22, 2011 3:02:46 PM


  14. Even a very pro-gay country like Belgium (second in the world to have marriage equality if I recall), can have a few bad apples in a position of power. I'm glad this couple can finally move on and enjoy their family!

    Posted by: Rob | Feb 22, 2011 3:31:13 PM


  15. @JACKFKNTWIST,

    I've had interactions with Opus Dei here in America [Boston.] They have had meetings/retreats at area prep schools, all of which involved very wealthy European youth/students, mostly Spanish, some wealthy South Americans also. I was impressed by their obvious connections to power and wealth. My understanding is they have connections to the far right/ European fascist.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 22, 2011 3:56:45 PM


  16. These guys did legally questionable things. This is probably the main cause of a lot of their problems.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 22, 2011 3:58:43 PM


  17. I hope they get their baby back safely.

    Although I would question strongly the wisdom in the decision to have a child through surrogacy in a foreign country unless they had a cast-iron, written guarantee that their son would be issued a Belgian passport.

    Did they go to the appropriate Belgian authorities before the surrogacy process began to ensure that a nightmare such as this did not happen? Did the Belgian Foreign Ministry confirm that a passport would be issued?

    I think their lawyer may have been negligent. A competent lawyer should have foreseen this, especially seeing as surrogacy is so strictly regulated in Belgium.

    Posted by: SteveC | Feb 22, 2011 3:59:16 PM


  18. @RATBASTARD : Opus Dei are not interested in feeding the poor. They make it their specific business to target middle to upper class kids in private schools, setting up youth groups and extra study groups at weekends to help them.....i.e. to help them achieve the best in their professions. they do not aim to turn their followers into priests; that would defeat their purpose.
    They aim to get their followers in the top professions, not firemen, policemen or regular bank workers. I'm talking of top lawyers , judges, politicians; their programmes have been running, to my certain knowledge, for the last 35 years......which is as far back as I remember......but undoubtedly it has been going on a lot longer.
    Their members are allowed to deny their membership....it is not a "sin" and is expressly excused.
    You will not hear of them in any public discussions.....they exercise power quietly in the background.....
    There are, of course, similar organisations...but Opus Dei is in the private Prefecture of the Pontiff.....his personal command, so to speak.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2011 4:27:13 PM


  19. Correction: Opus Dei is......

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2011 4:28:12 PM


  20. @BOBN: I'm talking about the powerful elite .....which is in direct contact with the Vatican.....and directly answerable to the Pope/Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Opus Dei is a personal prefecture of the Pope....answerable only to him.....not answerable to the local bishop.
    I'm not talking about the regular parish priest in the community.
    The power and subversive influence of senior men .......they would never participate in a common survey.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2011 4:33:23 PM


  21. "@BOBN: I'm talking about the powerful elite"

    You don't need to convince me of the evils of Opus Dei, but Opus Dei isn't why this has happened to this couple. The Belgian "elite" is comprised of a lot of liberals with just a few right-wingers. While I seriously doubt a straight couple would still be in quite so dire a position, sclerotic Belgian bureaucracy, the political crisis in Belgium, and real concerns about child trafficking are probably more to blame than anti-gay bigotry.

    A straight couple would have just crossed the border with an infant, birth certificate in hand, and had no problem. No one would have closely examined any papers. It was sort of stupid for the guys to try to have the child brought out of Ukraine by two women.

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 22, 2011 4:47:54 PM


  22. @BOBN; I guess I'm much more suspicious of their infiltration into upper European society.....it is ,of course, of its very nature impossible to get concrete evidence...
    Hmmmm, maybe we need some Wikileaks !

    I doubt that it's a problem in the USA.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 22, 2011 5:18:16 PM


  23. Yikes! I hadn't noticed the "Russia" tag on this article. Really? Russia?

    Ukraine deserves it's own tag, dontcha think?

    Posted by: BobN | Feb 22, 2011 5:22:06 PM


  24. Where I grew up there are a lot of Ukrainians. The old timers always corrected anyone who said 'The' Ukraine, which they said implied Ukraine was a part of Russia's border region.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 22, 2011 6:13:57 PM


  25. RatB and JackF,

    How little you know about Opus Dei and the poor. I run a huge non-profit affiliated with Opus Dei serving the poor. Get a grip.

    Posted by: Rich I | Feb 22, 2011 10:06:50 PM


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