Dominique and Sylvie Mennesson were unable to conceive a child naturally. Surrogacy arrangements are banned in France, so the couple decided to enter into an agreement in the United States, where the process is legal.
The surrogate mother gave birth to twin girls—Valentina and Fiorella.
Dominique and Sylvie were legally recorded as the twins’ parents on their US birth certificates. But when they tried to have the details transferred into France's register of births, the French authorities refused to comply, instead contacting prosecutors.
The charges were ultimately dropped. But the couple were forced to go through over a decade of legal battles in the French courts concerning the validity of their daughters’ birth records.
Valentina and Fiorella grew up in legal uncertainty. Their parents complained of difficulties when registering for social security, enrolling the children at the school canteen or an outdoor centre, or when applying for family allowances.
The twins were also denied French nationality, complicating family travel and raising concerns over their right to remain in France when they became adults.