SANTA ANA — Surrogate mother Anna L. Johnson lost the right Thursday to have daily visits with the baby she bore for an infertile Orange County couple.
Superior Court Judge Richard N. Parslow Jr. said he made the ruling because tension during Johnson's visits to Mark and Crispina Calvert's home was harmful to the infant.
Parslow also said that the Calverts, who hired Johnson for $10,000 to carry their embryo, could keep the little boy until another hearing on Oct. 9, and that Johnson could continue monitored visits to the Calvert home. He limited the visits to twice a week.
"Lord willing, this is the beginning of the end," Mark Calvert said.
Johnson's lawyer, Richard C. Gilbert, who had pledged to ask the state appeals court to place the baby with Johnson, said he would wait instead for the outcome of the next hearing.
Johnson has been visiting the baby daily since Saturday, the day after she agreed the infant could stay temporarily with the Calverts.
Parslow reduced the number of visits Thursday after the baby's court-appointed guardian, William G. Steiner, testified that the child would be better off if Johnson did not visit every day because of the strained relations between Johnson and the Calverts.
"I believe the tensions in the household are being transferred to the baby," Steiner said.
Steiner, executive director of a foundation that raises money to help abused and neglected children, said that he believes Johnson "does feel a special relationship with this child and that relationship has to be recognized and understood."
But for the time being, he said, the stress created by her visits must be minimized for the sake of the child, who was born Sept. 19.
Attorneys in the case are looking to the Oct. 9 hearing as pivotal in the unique dispute. That is when Parslow will be asked to step into uncharted legal waters and decide who the baby's legal parents are.
Johnson, 29, backed out of the surrogate birth contract claiming that the Calverts neglected her during pregnancy. She is the first surrogate mother to seek custody of a child who has no genetic relationship to her. In the famed Baby M case, the birth mother's own egg was inseminated, so she was biologically related to the baby.