Author is ruled baby's parent
Associated Press, Lexington Herald-Leader,
KY, December 16, 2005
Massachusetts court acts in surrogate mother case
DANVILLE - A court in Massachusetts ruled that a
best-selling author and her husband are the legal parents
of a child carried to term by a surrogate mother embroiled
in separate custody case involving her own biological children.
Author Jacquelyn Mitchard and her husband Christopher
Brent sought the ruling after the husband of surrogate mother
Arletta Bendschneider refused to sign documents stating
that he was not the baby's biological father.
Neither of the Bendschneiders are biologically related
to the baby. However, since Jack and Arletta Bendschneider
were married when she became pregnant, Kentucky law presumes
that he is the child's legal father. He has filed for divorce,
and has said the surrogacy arrangement was the reason.
Jack Bendschneider has said he was not trying to interfere
with custody of the Massachusetts couple's child. He said
he did not want anything more to do with his wife or the
arrangement and did not think it was necessary for him to
sign the document.
The ruling on the baby's custody came Monday in Massachusetts'
Barnstable County Probate and Family Court.
Earlier this year, Jack Bendschneider won temporary custody
of his and Arletta Bendschneider's two children. Casey Circuit
Judge James Weddle in October awarded the temporary custody
to their father, and said he would wait until Arletta Bendschneider
had delivered the baby to rule on permanent custody of the
"This lady has chosen to carry a baby for other folks,"
Weddle said at the time. "Some people might say this
wouldn't be in the best interest of (her own) children."
Mitchard's book The Deep End of the Ocean was chosen
as one of Oprah Winfrey's Book Club features, and it was
also the basis of a 1999 film.