HOUSTON -- A Harris County judge has reached a decision in an unusual custody battle involving a surrogate and two Houston men. The judge has determined the woman who gave birth is, in fact, a mother.
Cindy Close, 48, gave birth to premature twins at Texas Children’s Hospital on July 27. Not long afterward, she was visited by a social worker.
“She told me we had a surrogacy situation,” Close said. “I looked at her and said ‘I’m not a surrogate, what are you talking about?’”
Close said she had been duped by Marvin McMurrey, a man who she said pretended to be a friend and promised to be a partner in raising their children.
Though he paid for Close’s in vitro fertilization using his sperm and a donor egg, there was never a written contract. When the children were born, he claimed custody of them with his partner.
“We didn’t have everything nailed down because it was based on trust,” Close said. “No money was exchanged.”
Yet McMurrey challenged the mother-child relationship. Since Close was not linked to the children genetically, he alleged they were not hers.
For the past few months, Close has been granted visitation rights for two hours a day, six days a week.
McMurrey and Close will now share custody. According to Close’s attorney, Grady Reiff, there will be a hearing on November 26 to determine the conditions.
Cindy Close expressed relief over the judge’s ruling, and said she couldn’t wait to finally take her kids home.
“Bringing them home, wow. I’m going to get to do all the things that moms get to do. Just play with them, teach them, help them learn and help them grow,” she said.
She found out a judge had ruled she was a mom through a phone call from her attorney.
“I was happy. I have always known I was the mom, but to have the court validate that, I was over the moon.”
Close believes the ruling in her case could have implications for other women who use donor eggs.
“It’s a big thing for them, because had it gone the reverse, any woman who ever uses donor eggs could have been questioned if their relationship broke up.”
McMurrey’s attorney has declined to comment on the case.