LAURENT GHILAIN (27 YEARS) AND PETER MEURRENS (37 YEARS) HAD IT ALL. THEY FOUND LOVE WITH EACH OTHER AND TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO THEY MOVED FROM BELGIUM TO THE SMALL TOWN OF LODEVE NEAR MONTPELLIER WHERE LAURENT STARTED SUCCESSFULLY HIS OWN FITNESS BUSINESS AND PETER FOUND EMPLOYMENT AS CARDIOLOGE IN THE LOCAL HOSPITAL. ONE SETTLED THEY MADE THE BOLD DECISION TO FULFILL THEIR DEEPEST WISH: HAVING A CHILD.
Since 2006 it is legally possible to adopt a child in Belgium, but practice learns otherwise. It is difficult to go through the procedures and more often than not gays have to wait longer than straight couples to get approval. And thus Laurent and Peter decided to look for a surrogate mother. Not willing to take any risk, both men turned to an official surrogate organization based in the Ukraine, known for its solid and trustworthy approach. All went well and two years and two months ago their Ukraine surrogate mother gave birth to their son Samuel, of who Laurent is the biological father. But what was supposed to be the beginning of the fulfillment of their dream turned out to be their worst nightmare. Because as careful and well-prepared as Laurent and Peter were, they had not counted on the stubborn and static bureaucracy of the Belgium government.
Surrogate parentalship is not allowed in Belgium. Strangely enough it is also not forbidden. In fact, it is not clear what the law says in the northern European country. And because of this, little Samuel was refused Belgium citizenship and was not able to join his two fathers, even though one of them is his biological father. Forced by the unwillingness of the Belgium government, Laurent and Peter had to look for another solution to take care of their new born and found this with a Ukraine foster family willing take care of Samuel. But one year was the deal and when that year passed, this family was not ready to help any further. Having lost two lawsuits, Laurent and Peter were desperate, not knowing what would happen to their son. And so they made the dangerous decision to travel once more to Ukraine and take their baby, even if it meant kidnapping him.
Their plan was good but not good enough and Samuel was stopped at the border to eventually end up in a orphanage in Lviv, Ukraine. Another year has passed and the two fathers have grown hopeless. Knowing Samuel is more than two years old, they have come to realize that if nothing would happen soon, it would become too traumatic for their son to keep fighting for him and finding a good permanent foster family would probably be the best solution. A hard decision that proofs how deeply they care for the welfare of Samuel.
Laurent Ghilain and Peter Meurrens decided to try one more time. One more time they went to court to fight for their parental rights and to bring their baby home. And fortunately for them this time, before the hearing, the press picked their story up. A documentary was shown on TV and after French gay magazine Têtu published their heart breaking story on their blog, many international press sites followed their example. It was the best thing that happened to the gay couple in more than two years. The worldwide coverage of their hard breaking story resulted in the Belgian Foreign Ministry deciding to issue a passport for Samuel, following the court decision earlier this week saying bureaucrats had erred and the boy was entitled to the document. Finally, after more then two years of fighting and sleepless nights, Laurent and Peter will be reunited with their infant son.
The Belgium authorities still have one month to recall their decision, but after the hearing and the worldwide coverage of Laurent and Peter’s heart breanking story, this doesn’t seem likely. Still it might be useful and helpful to sign the online petition. Samuel is coming home to his rightful parents. let’s make sure he stays there.