ORANGE, CALIF., SEPT. 22 -- The child born to surrogate mother Anna L. Johnson, a tiny boy who was delivered into the eye of a legal and emotional hurricane four days ago, went home to his genetic parents today.

The infant's departure from the hospital was as unusual as his test-tube conception, his gestation in the womb of a hired surrogate, and his birth into a potentially precedent-setting custody dispute.

The still-unnamed newborn left St. Joseph Hospital in Orange at about 10:15 a.m., carried out the front doors by a pediatric nurse in a green scrub suit and flanked by a uniformed police officer, a clutch of hospital officials and the baby's court-appointed guardian, William Steiner.

Steiner drove the child to the home of Mark and Crispina Calvert, the couple who hired Johnson to bear their baby. After he crossed the threshold of the Calverts' home, the infant's life began to look a little more traditional. A houseful of relatives leaned over him, talking baby-talk.

"We're just so jubilant we have our child," Calvert said less than an hour after the baby had arrived. "We appreciate Anna Johnson's consideration and we're extremely grateful for her compassion in this situation."

Johnson, who has court permission to see the child daily, visited the baby at the Calverts' for more than an hour today. She is seeking shared custody.

"I sort of got the feeling that this baby was . . . the peacemaker," said Steiner, who will monitor Johnson's visits. "The attention just focused on the baby and away from all the acrimony and problems."