Melissa Cook – the California surrogate mom at the center of a custody battle over triplets she delivered last month – has been granted a temporary stay on a Los Angeles Court’s ruling that previously granted custody of her newborn triplets to their biological father. The new development prohibits the father, who is based in Georgia, from removing the children from California.
Per the court’s ruling, the infants will remain in California until a new decision has been made by the court. Cook, a Woodland Hills mother of four, filed lawsuits against the triplets’ biological father, asking for custody of the three baby boys and to have California’s surrogacy law declared unconstitutional.
“Yesterday s order issued by the California Court of Appeal is an important first step in obtaining a fair and just vindication of the fundamental constitutional rights of M.C. and the three baby boys,” Cook’s lawyer, Harold J. Cassidy, said in a statement.
The lawsuit came after Cook became convinced that the father of the babies – a 50-year-old single, deaf postal worker from Georgia who lives with his elderly parents, identified only as C.M. in legal documents – is unfit to care for them.
“My concern has always been for the welfare of the children and what is best for them,” Cook, 47, said in a statement. “My goal is to take responsibility to raise any child C.M. can t raise and seek a resolution for the placement of the other child or children based on what is in their best interests.”
Cook’s concerns began when C.M. asked Cook to abort one of the babies [created from the father’s sperm and a donated ova] she was carrying because he had allegedly run out of cash.
C.M.’s attorney Robert Walmsley, who also owns the surrogacy agency that brokered the deal, told PEOPLE that his client asked Cook to abort one of the babies out of concern for “her health and the health of the children.”
Cook refused to go through with the abortion and delivered three triplets on February 22. Soon after the babies were born, Cook was powerless to stop nurses from whisking the infants away.
“Every day is hard,” Cook told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview earlier this month. “I go through moments of crying and I try and force myself to think of something else. But I can’t stop thinking about those babies and what’s going to happen to them.”
In February, a Los Angeles court ruled in favor of the birth father, saying that under California law, parental rights are given to the intended parents [or parent]. Cook then filed an appeal that resulted in the stay granted Wednesday.
“What I have learned from this experience is that the California Statute only protects the interests and desires of the adult who pays money to have children placed with him,” Cook’s statement continues. “The lawyers only stand up for his interests. No one stands up for the women. No one stands up for the children.”
“I hope that in the end, I can successfully stand up for the women and the children,” she concluded.