' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Judge: Egg Donor Cory Sause is Boy's Mother--and will get parenting rights

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Judge: Egg Donor Cory Sause is Boy's Mother--and will get parenting rights

Cory Sause and son
An Oregon judge has ruled that an egg donor mother has the right to be part of her child's life, despite the efforts of the wealthy sperm-donor father who wants to cut her out of the picture. The ruling was based on the "contradictory" agreement that the egg-donor mother and the father signed prior to the birth of a son and emails and other evidence showing that the father intended to keep the mother in his son's life, changing his mind only after the boy was born. In her decision, Judge Amy Holmes in Portland said that she will meet with the parties to develop a parenting plan.

The case does not signal a breakthrough for all egg donors who after birth wish to participate in the resulting child's upbringing, for this case involved an agreement between two parties who were a couple at the time an egg was implanted in a surrogate, and the agreement signed was not cut-and-dried as is usual between parties who do not have a prior relationship. The child, a boy named Samuel, is now two.

The mother, Cory Sause, 39, is the former girlfriend of Jordan Schnitzer, 66, a Oregon real estate developer. Schnitzer is divorced and has two teenage daughters, but wanted a son. Sause had had some eggs frozen in case she wanted a child, and she agreed to let Schnitzer use her eggs to implant in a surrogate. During the surrogate pregnancy their relationship deteriorated.

Schnitzer and his attorneys contend this case is about more than keeping Sause out of the picture: He is fighting to protect "the sanctity of egg donor contracts, modern families and the rights of a single man to be a father if he chooses."*
This dad builds a relationship
with his sperm-donor kids

There is so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to begin. There is no way in hell egg-donor contracts should be considered sacred. Courageous adoptees have fought for more than half a century to obtain their original birth certificates and learn their origins. First mothers including Lorraine and myself have supported them in their fight. Like adoptees, children born via egg donor and surrogate should not be bound by contracts made about them when they were infants or, in the case of egg donor/surrogate children, before they were born. Children are not merely matter in a test tube or slaves, commodities to be bartered and sold, or held to agreements that cut a biological parent out of their lives.

The label "modern family" suggests that technologically constructed families are somehow superior to those created by nature. In mind-bending hypocrisy, Schnitzer accepts the power of nature when it comes to his son's DNA. The importance of the mother's DNA, however, fuhgeddaboutit.
Jordan Schnitzer

We at FMF recognize that families form in nontraditional ways. We wish that society would have been more accepting of single parenthood when our daughters were born. But to insist that there are no inherent problems for individuals deprived of the right to know their heritage--their real heritage--and have a relationship with both biological parents is just junk science.

Add caption
As for "the rights of a single man to be a father"? That blows me away.  Where does this right come from?  It's not in the U. S. or Oregon constitutions that I studied in law school. The fertility industry has no power to confer such a "right" on men wealthy enough to afford its services. The legislature may provide some protection to those who become parents via egg donation and surrogacy, but it's not an inherent right. Before babies could be created in a laboratory, men could be single fathers only if the child's mother agreed, abandoned the child, or died. None of these were consider positive events. In fact, motherless children were pitied.

Nothing modern about the idea that if men have lots of money, they have the right to get what they want from women. Men have forced women to bear their children since the beginning: handmaiden Hagar bore Abraham's child, Sally Hemings bore Thomas Jefferson six children, Isis fighters impregnate thousands of women. Trent Franks, a "socially conservative" Arizona congressman worth about $30 million offered two women on his staff $5 million to serve as surrogates. The women believed he wanted to have sex with them as the means of impregnating them. To their credit, Republican leadership found this reprehensible, and forced Franks to resign.

Although the judge in Sause's case did not discuss Samuel's best interests--or any interests--it's worth looking at this case from Samuel's point of view. How will he feel learning that his father spent hundreds of thousands to keep him from knowing his mother? What does Schnitzer's actions tell Samuel about the value of women in society? There is also the fact that Schnitzer may not live long enough to see Samuel grow up. In the event that Schnitzer is successful in his appeal to gain sole custody of Samuel, who will care for him in the event of Schnitzer's untimely death? His daughters are young, Schnitzer has no siblings, his father is deceased, and his mother is elderly.

Schnitzer had a second son in June 2017, again via donated eggs and a surrogate. This time, we assume that he covered all bases to assure that Son Two would, never, never know his biological mother. He will grow up seeing Samuel interact with his mother and may wonder why he too can't have a mother. "What's wrong with me?" he may ask.

Schnitzer has appealed the judge's decision and asked the Oregon Supreme Court to prevent Sause from seeing the boy. If his request is granted Sause would not be able to begin to build a relationship with Samuel until after the appeal is completed  which may take several years, and only if the Court rules in her favor. This sad saga is far from over.--jane

*Judge: Jordan Schnitzer is not sole legal parent; boy has mother, too
Trent Franks, Accused of offering $5 million to Aide for Surrogacy, Resigns

Genetic mother denied visitation with son conceived in vitro
Egg Donor or Egg Seller?: Fulfilling Another Woman's Dreams or Filling Your Pockets
Surrogacy today: The American Way?

The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening and Julienne Moore are the lesbian parents of two teens; Mark Ruffalo is the engaging father who appears and is interested in having a relationship with his children. You may not like how everything works out, but it is a smart, funny movie with heart.

Lethal Secrets
Written by two clinical social workers, this book is a long-range view of donor insemination with interviews of donor offspring, donors and parents years after the fact. It takes a hard look at the ramifications of secrecy, specifically about the impact of raising children without knowledge of their biological parentage.


  1. Aha! A woman judge.
    Both men and women belong in all areas of law and legislation.

  2. What has been omitted in this imbroglio is evidence reported by adults who were themselves frozen (suspended) egg babies and their lifetime trauma and isolation memories as they coldly brought into the world alone and sterile without intimacy of mother and heredity. Bizarro World spins for the privileged infertile.

  3. It is so sad when adults think of children as possessions and not as human beings whose welfare is paramount over the adults' needs. Jordan Schnitzer clearly is a narcissist. While I am glad Cory Sause has been recognized as the legal mother of Samuel, it is disheartening to me that adults can enter into agreements sealing the fate of a child, in the form of permanent deprivation of a parent, before the child has even been conceived. As you say, Jane, the circumstances surrounding Cory Sause's agreement were unusual. I bet the biological mother of Jordan Schnitzer's second son does not stand a chance, were she to be interested in contact. In all of this, the children suffer the most.

  4. I've hated everything about this story from the beginning. I recall that this father didn't feel his two daughters from his ex-wife were good enough since they were girls, and I believe the issue was that they would not carry on the family name. I'm so sick of patriarchy.

    Didn't the beautiful actress Sofia Vergara get into a similar scuffle with her ex-fiance over frozen embryos after the broke up? Does anyone recall the details?

    1. Yes, there was a patriarchal element to it, except he is couching it as "I love my daughters, I just wanted equal numbers of daughters and sons."

      As for Sofia Vergara, she drew up a contract with her now ex, Nick Loeb, that their fertilized eggs would not be brought to term without the express consent of both parties. She does not want a baby from those eggs, Nick Loeb does. His only argument is an appeal to the judge to please save the lives of these two fertilized eggs, which he has named "Emma" and "Isabella" in a bid to personalize them, even though the contract states otherwise. Sofia Vergara's argument is that Nick Loeb is not interested in fatherhood at all, he just wants to use shared children as a way of keeping a connection with her even though she has moved on and is happily married. I don't think there has been a court decision yet (at least, that I know of).

      As an aside, this video (link below) made me so sad for the first family and for the adoptee, for a lot of reasons. Seemed to me as if the adoptive parents should have been more transparent earlier on, and they also may not have made themselves more approachable when their daughter had questions about her adoption. At least I am glad her family finally got to be reunited with her, and that her adoptive parents did help facilitate that. Link below:


    2. I'm less trusting than you are Jay. I suspect that if Schnitzer had had two sons from his marriage, he would not be going to all this trouble to have daughters.

    3. Jane, I didn't say I believe him, I merely stated what he expressed to the court. I one hundred percent think his desire stemmed from patriarchy, as Robin expressed. He wants boys to continue his lineage - in fact, I recall reading he also wanted the boys and not the girls to inherit his business empire. He just needed to find an innocuous explanation for the benefit of the court.

  5. Jay--I just watched that video about the Chinese adoption/reunion. The reaction of the mother on the bridge was the way so many mothers feel.

    1. This is the link to the unabbreviated version:


      I want videos like this to be seen by adoptive parents because it puts a face to the anguish of mothers like you. I really felt for the adoptee as well.

  6. Sorry, but the idea of surrogacy became hideous to me. It's a third party who is omitted here.

  7. Kira--We are no fans of surrogacy either unless for a family member and without money changing hands, but to us that was not the main issue here. We written several pieces about surrogacy.



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