The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in its comments on a court decision on a Singaporean doctor’s bid to adopt a child he had fathered through surrogacy in the United States and laid out its policy on adoption on Wednesday (27 December).
The Ministry said that its position is “informed by Singapore’s public policy, which encourages parenthood within marriage”.
An MSF spokesman wrote an e-mail responding to queries from The Straits Times, saying, “Planned and deliberate parenthood by singles, as evidenced through the intentional use of assisted reproduction and/or surrogacy, runs contrary to this.”
Past media reported that surrogacy is not explicitly banned here, although the Health Ministry’s guidelines prohibit assisted reproduction centres from practising surrogacy.
The MSF, however, said all adoption applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis, saying that the factors it considers include the applicant’s parenting capacity, parenting beliefs, family circumstances, support network and ability to meet the child’s long-term needs.
The spokesman wrote, “The best interests of the child are the primary consideration when the Guardian-in-Adoption assesses each adoption application.”
She said that the director of social welfare, as the appointed Guardian-in-Adoption, opposed the Singaporean doctor’s application on policy grounds. However, the Family Justice Courts make the final decision on adoption applications, taking into account various factors such as the assessment and recommendation of the director of social welfare.
She noted that the Adoption of Children Act prohibits any payment or reward to the biological or adoptive parents for the adoption of the child, except with the sanction of the court.
She then reiterated the court’s stand, which is that the doctor’s adoption application is a case of “intentional and deliberate parenthood by a single to conceive a child through procedures which are not allowed in Singapore”.
In any case, she said that 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.
Sayoni, a community-oriented LGBT organisation posted a question regarding this issue on its Facebook page.
“Does the MSF really prefer unintentional parenthood within the context of marriage rather than planned action to give life to and bring up a child, which is a huge, life-changing decision? How are the best interests of the child being considered when he is not being given full citizenship rights in his home country?” it asked.
It stressed that the inequalities in Singapore towards single parents and LGBTQ parents again rear their ugly head.