A Central Florida couple and the woman they expected to be their surrogate mother met in court on Wednesday both wanting to take home the 4-month-old girl birthed by the surrogate mother earlier this year.
Both sides were at the Duval County Courthouse, where they've spent several hours trying to explain why they should have custody of the little girl.
Tom Lamintina and his wife said their struggle first began when their surrogate mother was two months into the pregnancy. That's when they said the surrogate mother, Stephanie Eckard, of Jacksonville's Westside, reneged on their agreement.
The child, named Emma Grace Eckard, was born on May 9, according to court documents. The surrogate mother has had custody of the child since the birth.
Court documents also state that Eckard wants to keep the baby, and that she wants child support and insurance money.
In court, Eckard testified that she did enter into an agreement with Tom Lamintina but said a contract was never signed. She said during her pregnancy that Lamintina e-mailed her stating he no longer wanted the child and that was when she decided she wanted to keep the baby and had her attorney, Kelly Hampton, send Lamintina a letter revoking their contract.
"The mother, who was going to give away her baby, at any point can go and revoke that," Hampton said after the hearing.
Tom Lamintina admitted to the court that he sent Eckard the e-mail the surrogate mother spoke of because at one point he questioned whether he was the father of the baby.
The fact that Lamintina provided the sperm and Eckard provided the egg and carried the child has been confirmed by a DNA test included in court documents.
"It's killing me. I have always wanted this child. I tried to talk to this woman ? but I tried to work this out," he said outside the courtroom.
The Lamintinas' attorney, Scott Salomon, said he planned to prove Eckard tried to defraud his clients from day one.
"It's all about money. Money is the bottom line," Salomon said at a July news conference.
Wednesday's hearing was expected to determine whether the contract made between the Lamintinas and Eckard was legal, and if it did exist, whether it was revoked. The judge's decision could be handed down as early as Thursday.