Cindy Close & Marvin McMurrey III: Here's One Weird-Ass Child Custody Case

Categories: Courts

baby.jpg
This image is purely for illustrative purposes, but it's always possible that Kevin Bacon might somehow be involved.
When Cindy Close gave birth to twins last July, she thought she had finally achieved her lifelong dream of being a mother. The 47-year-old had gone about it in an unconventional way, she says, by using a friend's sperm and anonymous donor's eggs, with the ultimate goal of co-parenting the kid(s) with her friend.

But Close says that, shortly after she gave birth, that friend sought full custody of the babies, saying that Close was only a surrogate. Now Close and her friend, Marvin McMurrey III, are duking it out in Harris County Family Court.

According to Close, she briefly dated McMurrey, 47, about six years ago, but they quickly realized they were better as friends. The two discussed their longing to be parents, and they ultimately struck up a deal: Close, who earned a modest income in printing, would be a stay-at-home mom, and McMurrey, whose family is rather well-off, would support them.

After a few false starts, Close says, she finally conceived earlier this year. Shortly thereafter, according to Close, McMurrey asked Close how she'd feel about moving to Oregon, along with his friend, Phong Nguyen. Close says McMurrey also insisted on getting their agreement in writing, something Close says she never thought about, since she trusted McMurrey.

Ultimately, on July 3, Close signed an affidavit in which she stated "I am not genetically related to the children" and "I participated in the procedure voluntarily and did not receive compensation for my services other than reimbursement for medical costs of the assisted reproductive procedures." She also declared McMurrey to be the biological father.

After giving birth prematurely at Texas Children's Hospital, Close says, she was served with a temporary restraining order: McMurrey sought a court's ruling declaring him as the father, and denying a parent-child relationship between Close and the babies. McMurrey is arguing that, although Close is the "birthing mother," she's not a genetic parent.

"...her role was that of a surrogate or gestational carrier, which will be confirmed upon receipt of genetic testing," the TRO states.

McMurrey won temporary custody of the twins, who are now living at Nguyen's house. According to Close, McMurrey and Nguyen are in a relationship -- something she hadn't realized until she gave birth.

In August, Close counter-sued McMurrey and Nguyen, claiming breach of duty, fraud, and intentional inflection of emotional distress, among other things.

Close's attorney, Grady Reiff, says that any assertion that Close is not legally the kids' mother is patently absurd. He also says that Texas law only recognizes gestational or surrogacy agreements between a surrogate and a married couple.

"If Marvin gets his way, then our argument is that the only four people to have ever walked the Earth without a mother will be Adam and Eve and [the babies Close gave birth to]...because there will be no...legally recognized mother ever having existed for these children," Reiff says.

Which gives us a headache. The weirdness was also noted by Judge Bonnie Crane Hellums, who said during one hearing in the case, "I'm getting a whole new respect for Solomon."

A hearing has been set for Monday, and we'll update accordingly. Neither McMurrey's nor Nguyen's attorneys wanted to comment for this story.

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13 comments
bwanna12
bwanna12

Sounds like this Close women is a too attached surrogate who now wants to steal this mans baby.  I sure how this women does not get those two precious kids! Just because you carried them does not make them yours.

zoelvis
zoelvis

Cindy Close is my Aunt, biologically and in my heart and eyes.  She is a wonderful woman with a heart of gold.  Her entire life she has had one wish.  That wish was to be a mother.  I cannot fathom her ever not wanting the children's father involved in their lives. All  she is asking for is to have the promise granted that was freely given. No more, No less.  She wants to be a mother to her children.

 

MaryPe
MaryPe

Sounds more to me like "buyer's remorse".  Everything in this story details to me that she was a surrogate who got attached.  Giving birth doesn't mean you keep the babies if you agreed to carry a child to term, with it all financed by the eventual parents.  Sounds like a few are railing against them because the child was born to gay parents which is a shame, I know some really crappy females who are biological mothers and some great gay people who are loving and nurturing.  By some of the people here's logic, it's better to have a crack mother who beats her kids than a loving, committed and wealthy parents who are both men.  It also sounds to me like the restraining order was asked for because after she saw how adorable these kids are, she tried to make decisions for their preemie care and since she was a surrogate, she couldn't and was raising heck at the hospital.  How did she think she was so close to trust him with a legally binding contract without reading it but didn't know he was gay or had a longtime partner?  She never went to his house?  Never had double dates later?  Never had a weekend get together?  Never met any of his other friends or family?  There is no way in the world that a best friend I would trust to tell me what's in a legal document wouldn't be close enough to know they were in a relationship with another man for years.

tle_mgr
tle_mgr

I dont think that the court will consider the matter of biology, because that is something for the legislature. What I think is that the court will only cosider the matter of custody. Most courts tend to keep the status quo, that is whoever has custody will keep it. So I predict that the father will keep custody and the "mother" will keep some visitations

unitesiblings
unitesiblings

very interesting case. Is parenthood decided by biological connection or morals, ethics, values, sacrifices mean something?

melingi08
melingi08

Mr McMurrey III broke the law and should go to jail for fraud.

daraspringer
daraspringer

Who paid Texas Children's Hospital for the deliveries and preemie care? Her insurance or Marvin McMurrey III? If he gets custody, then he should be financially responsible for all expencies plus a huge settlement to the babies mother.

cadystanton
cadystanton

I hope that you continue to cover this story. Surrogacy should be illegal and the fact that this man is preventing the children from being with their mother should be grounds to terminate his rights. This should be considered kidnapping. The only real mother that any child will ever have is the woman who gave birth to them, regardless of any donations of genetic material. When a person donates a kidney that do not get ownership over the person they donated the kidney to. Time to ban all surrogacy and start respecting mothers. Moms are the ones who risk their lives bringing a child into the world. The denigration must end. Baby stealing must be stopped. There is nothing sadder than the thought of motherless children.

daraspringer
daraspringer

 @Cindy Close should have been given custody of her twins, she is being denied all of the actual fun part of having a baby. Instead of fighting a custody battle, she should be caring for them. As a mother, I can not imagine being seperated from my babies.

jknight
jknight

Gone are the days when all babies were conceived with mom, dad and a bed! Science has progressed to the point where "the old fashioned way" is just that- old fashioned. We don't squat in a field and give birth anymore and we don't rely on leeches to suck the poison out of our bodies. So why hasn't our family court caught up to this progress? By this logic, if my husband was sterile and we had to rely on donor sperm to conceive a child, he would have no legal right to that child. Are you kidding me? 

mykai4
mykai4

 @MaryPe

 Just so you know he did "date" her for awhile, and made no claims at having a "partner"!She did not intend on being a "surrogate" and he paid her nothing which is what the paperwork she signed stated...The facts on this case are not out, and if he was looking for a surrogate only why did he pray on a 48 year old woman that never denied the desire to have children. Why did he not go through a service. This woman was in this to finally have children to co-parent with  him. The restraining order was so she could not nurse babies she fully intended on parenting! If you read about him you will know the children are not at HIS house they are at his "partners" house while he lives out of  state with yet another woman....so to answer your question yes not only her but many people were decieved by his practices...there is only so much that can be said right not but believe me she had no idea this person was going to do this...BTW HE FINANCED NOTHING!!!!

msch808111
msch808111

 @cadystanton

 I disagree that surrogacy should be illegal - for some couples it is an only option for them to have a child. But in a real surrogacy situation, the surrogate mother is aware of what she is doing and a willing participant. This poor woman had no intention of being a 'surrogate' - her intention was to raise these children herself, with a person she trusted who turned out to be a lying scumbag who tricked her into being a baby factory. I can just imagine what sort of people these kids will be if he's allowed to raise them ... lying users, just like 'daddy'

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