A Northampton fertility clinic has been hit with a £25,000 bill after a form-filling blunder left a woman with no parental rights over a newborn baby.
The woman was delighted when her same-sex partner gave birth to their child after treatment at Care Fertility Northampton but, due to a mix-up with consent forms at the clinic, she ended up with no parental rights over the child, the High Court heard.
Although the couple are no longer together, her former partner supported her and had described what happened at the clinic as a "terrible error".
Speaking of the trauma she suffered on receiving the news, she told the court: "My whole world was turned upside down.
"I was completely unable to deal with it. I felt that I was an inferior person in my child's life so far as the outside world was concerned.
"I felt that the confidence that I had been given in the change in the law to allow same-sex couples to have children and be considered legal parents had been snatched away from me.
"I simply felt that I was no more than a step-parent to my child, rather than an actual parent."
A UK family judge, Sir James Munby, presided over the case and officially recognised her as the child's legal parent.
Though the couple were neither married, nor in a civil partnership, there was "compelling evidence" that, when they went to the clinic, they intended that both of them would be legal parents to any child born, he said.
Sir James added that the clinic had offered the woman "an unreserved apology" for what went wrong, but she said that even a court declaration of her rights as a parent would not "take away the hurt and distress" she felt.
When she read the clinic's statement the woman said she had felt "sick to her stomach."
The clinic agreed to pay the woman's legal costs, which Sir James fixed at £25,000.