Dad Prevails in Birth|by Turkey Baster Case

     RICHMOND, Va. (CN) – A mother who inseminated herself with a turkey baster cannot obstruct her son’s biological father from visitation, an appellate court ruled.
     As described in court documents, Joyce Rosemary Bruce wanted to conceive a child that she could raise on her own, without the involvement of a father.
     “Bruce apparently believed that if she became pregnant in a way that did not involved sexual intercourse, the biological father would not have a claim to any parental rights,” Judge Stephen McCullough wrote for the three-person appellate panel.
     To accomplish her goal, Bruce approached longtime friend Robert Preston Boardwine, and asked him to be a sperm donor.
     After some hesitation, Boardwine agreed, the judges said. Although there was some talk of entering into a written contact regarding any resulting pregnancy, none was ever signed, the April 21 opinion says.
     In July 2010, and after several attempts at conception with a plastic container and “an ordinary turkey baster,” Bruce became pregnant.
     Initially, Bruce and Boardwine remained on good terms. When Bruce informed Boardwine about the pregnancy, he visited and brought gifts for her and the baby.
     But things soon became strained between the two friends.
     A heated argument arose between Boardwine and Bruce over the naming of the baby, but after the child identified only as J.E. was born, Boardwine began visiting his son at Bruce’s home.
     But Bruce said as Boardwine expressed more interest in taking a more active role in the child’s life, such as attending sporting and school events, she asked him to stop visiting altogether.
     In her complaint to block Boardwine’s continued attempts to see the child, Bruce pointed to Virginia’s assisted conception statute, which defines the father of a child borne of assisted conception as the husband of the child’s gestational mother.
     Designed to protect married couples from donors or surrogates seeking parental involvement, the statute specifically states that a “donor is not the parent of a child conceived through assisted conception, unless the donor is the husband of the gestational mother.”
     According to Virginia law, assisted conception necessitates the use of in vivo or in vitro medical technology, which “does not encompass a kitchen implement such as a turkey baster,” Judge McCullough wrote.
     Though Boardwine successfully proved paternity with a 99.999 percent DNA match, court documents say he was not listed on any birth certificate and was not invited to be present at his son’s birth.
     “The path to fatherhood may have been unconventional,” McCullough wrote, “but as the father of J.E., Boardwine was entitled to seek (and as the trial court found, receive), visitation with his son.”
     Bruce was represented by Monica Taylor Monday of Gentry, Locke Rakes & Moore; Boardwine by Thomas W. Rowe Jr. of Spigle, Roe, Massey & Clay. Both law firms are located in Roanoke, Va. Neither counsel has returned calls from Courthouse News’ seeking comment.

%d bloggers like this: