A judge hearing a surrogate rights case renewed temporary custody to the genetic parents of an infant boy and curtailed the visiting privileges of the woman hired to bear the child.
The decision came Thursday during the second temporary custody hearing in surrogate mother Anna Johnson's bid to win parental rights.Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard Parslow ruled that Crispina and Mark Calvert, the couple whose egg and sperm created the baby, would be allowed to continue caring for the child pending a hearing next month.
The baby, called Christopher Michael by the Calverts, will stay with them at least until Oct. 9, when the hearing will be held at which the court hopes to resolve the potentially precendent-setting question of parental rights.
DNA test results, which Parslow presumed will confirm the baby's genetic tie to the Calverts, are expected to be discussed at that hearing.
Since the baby was released from the hospital to the Calverts Saturday, Johnson has visited him daily for up to three hours at each occasion, as she was allowed in the first custody hearing.
But William Steiner, the baby's court-appointed guardian who has monitored the visits, testified Thursday that "the daily . . . visit has a level of stress with it."
"That tension on a daily basis interferes with the spontaneity of the Calverts with the baby," he said, adding that it is likely the infant experiences tension himself as a result.
Steiner, however, said Johnson does "feel a special relationship with this child" - who she calls Matthew. Johnson has breast-fed the baby since his birth, and Steiner recommended that she continue to have access to the baby.
Steiner said the child needs a "consistent environment, not subject to the whims of the attorneys, court or other parties."
Parslow agreed, extending the initial custody order until Oct. 9 while cutting Johnson's visitation rights to two days a week.
The case centers on the rights of surrogate mothers and biological parents. It is the first time in the nation that a judge has been asked to decide whether a surrogate mother has the right to call a child her own even when it has no genetic link to her.
"Once again we find biotechnology out ahead of legislation and case law," Parslow said during the hearing.
Johnson, 29, a licensed vocational nurse and a single mother, agreed in January to bear the child for the Orange County couple for $10,000.