A judge Wednesday granted surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead-Gould immediate, unsupervised visitation of eight hours a week with the child she agreed to bear under a $10,000 contract.
Superior Court Judge Birger M. Sween said Whitehead-Gould's visits with 2-year-old Melissa Stern would be expanded from one eight-hour day weekly to two days every other week in September, overnight visits in April 1989 and two weeks during that summer.The judge also ordered the adults in the case to undergo counseling to ease the emotional burden on the child, who lives with her father, William Stern, and his wife, Elizabeth. The Sterns, who hired Whitehead-Gould as a surrogate, have custody of Melissa
"The court finds that Melissa's best interests will be served by unsupervised, uninterrupted liberal visitation with her mother," Sween said in a written decision given to attorneys.
Both sides were planning news conferences this afternoon to comment on the ruling.
However, attorneys for both sides said following a three-day hearing last week that they did not plan to appeal Sween's decision, whatever the outcome.
The Sterns argued that visitation should be stopped for at least six years, while Whitehead-Gould sought the gradually expanded, unsupervised visitation she won Wednesday.