Friday, September 14, 2007

Seminole County Surrogacy Custody Case Awaiting Judge's Ruling

http://www.wesh.com/news/14101529/detail.html

A Seminole County couple must wait for a judge to decide if they will gain custody of a baby girl conceived by a surrogate mother.

The surrogate and the couple who hired her told very different stories of how their relationship went sour in a Duval County courtroom on Wednesday.

The Oviedo couple, Tom and Gwyn Lamatina, battled the surrogate, Stephanie Eckard of Jacksonville, to gain custody of a four-month-old girl named Emma.

Eckard claims that early in her pregnancy they started bickering over the issue of paternity.

"That's what he told me over the phone was that he wanted a DNA test because of everything falling apart and I told him he could wait until the child was born to do the DNA test," Eckard said. "I don't like [amniocentesis], and he stated that while you never know, I might have switched the sperm."

When they began bickering, Eckard had not yet signed the surrogacy contract and never did, despite cashing a $1,500 check from the Lamatinas.

In May, Eckard delivered a baby girl that was a product of her egg and Tom Lamatina's sperm.

Eckard said she decided to keep the child after an alleged phone conversation with Tom Lamatina, during which he told her he no longer wanted the baby.

Lamatina admits making such a statement but claims it was because Eckard's attorneys were harassing him.

"At a weak moment in time I said, my wife told me, 'Go ahead and tell them you don't want the child so she can send you an affidavit saying you don't want the child and you won't have to pay child support for 18 years,'" Lamatina said.

In addition to keeping the baby, the surrogate mother also sought child support from the Lamatinas; the Lamatina's want full custody.

The Lamatinas already have a little boy through a successful surrogacy and said they are ready for their little girl.

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