Britain’s first transgender parents said a nurse did not let them see their newborn daughter after their surrogate gave birth saying they were “not legal parents”.
Jake Graf, 42, and Hannah Graf, 33, from south London, said they were both “nearly in tears” in the hospital car park after the nurse said they would not be allowed to visit the baby girl.
Millie was born just an hour prior to the Graf’s arrival at the hospital in Belfast Hospital in April 2020, in the early months of the Covid pandemic.
A surrogate is a legal parent in the UK unless she signs a parental order transferring her rights, or the baby is legally adopted, as a surrogacy agreement is not enforceable by law. It is also illegal to pay a woman to carry and birth a baby, except for medical expenses.
The birth mother is allowed to keep the child until the parental order is signed within six months of the baby’s birth, even if she is not genetically related to the baby. At least one of the intended parents has to be genetically related to the baby for a parental order to be enforced.
Jake told Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, that the nurse was “unimpressed” and told them she could not give them any information on their daughter’s whereabouts.
He said:“I called the ward that we had the number for and this very busy and rushed off her feet nurse said I can’t tell you where the baby is because you are not the legal parents.”
“So, you can imagine you’re in the car park and we are both nearly in tears. The baby had been born an hour prior to that. And this woman is literally saying you are not her legal parents I can’t give you any information as to where she is.”
“And she said “I’m sitting here with the mother now” and I actually said, “I’m with the mother in the car.” This woman was obviously very unimpressed.”
The transgender dad continued: “There was yellow tape everywhere, it was absolutely deserted, the car park was mostly closed, there was no one at any reception. We went looking for someone who could help.”
The couple was able to see Millie after the surrogate mother Laura’s birthing partner said they would let her into the maternity ward. The proud father said: “Our baby was tiny and covered in blood and we just both held this tiny little thing and just it was a dream come true.”
“The NHS was amazing considering what was going on and considering that most of the hospital was closed and there was a case of Covid in the maternity ward. We were allowed our own little room for the three of us we stayed probably until about 6 in the evening and they talked us through how to bathe her and change her and feed her,” he added.
Hannah said that Laura will “very much” remain part of Millie’s life, calling her one of the most ‘inspiring women’ she’s ever met. In a Channel 4 clip posted on Jake’s YouTube channel, the couple reveals that Laura has offered to carry another baby for them and hoping that it would be a boy.
Hannah said: “She is such an amazing woman. We have nothing but awe and love for her. She is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met.”
“She’s wanted to do this for years, but she agreed to go on this journey with us. We made sure we had the same outlook and wanted the same thing. She’s very much going to stay in Millie’s life as a family friend.”
Speaking on Lorraine last year, the couple says they never “take for granted” how lucky they are, praising their family, friends, and community for the support they’ve received while becoming parents.
Jake said: “We’ve been very lucky in that we have had support from family and friends from the beginning. We have a wonderful support from the community.”
“When we were lucky enough to meet our angel Laura, our surrogate, she got pregnant first time. We are so lucky and we never ever take that for granted.”
Hannah Winterbourne is a former soldier who served as a captain in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The Sandhurst-trained officer served in Afghanistan as Captain Winterbourne and came out as a transgender woman in 2013.
As part of the Army LGBT Forum, she became the Army’s Transgender Representative where she had the responsibility to advise senior Army commanders on transgender policy and mentor and support transgender soldiers in the Army. She is also the highest-ranking transgender officer in the British Army.
While Jake Graf, is a television director and actor who transitioned in 2008, he had gender reassignment surgery in his 20s. He made the decision for a fertility clinic to freeze his eggs because he’s wanted to be a father since his 20s.
In March 2018, the couple got married after three years of dating. Millie was born through a surrogate mother using Jake’s eggs.
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