Gammy: Neighbour of Bunbury parents speaks | photos, video

Neighbour of Gammy's parents speaks 

A neighbour to the address believed to house the biological parents of baby Gammy told the Bunbury Mail he had not had a lot of interaction with the couple but he believed a man lived there full-time while an Asian woman visited the home intermittently. 

The neighbour was shocked to see the heavy media attention throughout the day yesterday. 

He said there was a granny flat at the rear of the property where the couple may have retreated while they wait for legal advice. 

"When I got home on Saturday night I'm sure I saw them in the driveway getting a baby carrier out of the car," he said. 

"It's hard to believe a national news story has ended up on our street."

Media have not been able to get a response from the couple this morning with the only sign of life coming from a large dog barking at journalists. 

Gammy's parents yet to front media

THE eyes of the world turned to Bunbury on Monday after the news broke that a couple in the area were believed to be the biological parents of Down syndrome baby Gammy.

Media cars lined both sides of the South Bunbury street with all eyes trained on the property believed to be that of baby Gammy’s Australian parents.

It was believed the couple was preparing to speak to the media but decided to wait for legal advice and instead drawn curtains and a closed front door greeted reporters who made numerous attempts in the afternoon to engage the family in conversation.

A lawyer for the parents of the infant twin born to a surrogate mother and abandoned in Thailand was expected to make an announcement on behalf of the parents but no one arrived at or left the house all day and no statement was issued.

Baby Gammy came to national attention after Fairfax Media reported he had been left behind in Thailand by his biological Australian parents who returned to WA with his healthy twin sister.

It is believed Gammy has Downs syndrome and a congenital heart condition.

The majority of the media pack had been at the address from early Monday morning with repeated phone calls to newsrooms and possible contacts.

Neighbours were visibly surprised to see the news contingent in their street who slowly filtered out as the darkness of night set in. 

Do you know more? Email the Bunbury Mail with details - editor.bunburymail@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is held by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua (not seen) at a hospital in Chonburi province. Photo: Damir Sagolj, Reuters.

Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is held by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua (not seen) at a hospital in Chonburi province. Photo: Damir Sagolj, Reuters.

What do we know about baby Gammy?

Gammy has stayed in the care of his surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua in an impoverished village in Thailand. A food stall worker, she is thought to have been paid $15,000 to be a surrogate. Under Thai law, Ms Pattharamon is Gammy’s legal mother.

He is receiving treatment in hospital for a lung infection. Fund-raising for his medical expenses and long-term care has topped almost $200,000.

Surrogate mother wants to keep Gammy

Gammy has stayed in the care of his surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua in an impoverished village in Thailand. He is receiving treatment in hospital for a lung infection.

Ms Pattharamon has said in a number of interviews she loves Gammy and wants to keep him.

Stephan Page, one of Australia’s leading surrogacy lawyers, said that, under Thai law, Ms Pattharamon was Gammy’s legal mother “so it would require her agreement for the baby to go back to the parents”.

Ms Pattharamon wept when told by a representative of Australian charity Hands Across the Water she will have enough money to care for Gammy.

“My children love Gammy very much and want him to come home,” she said, referring to her two other children, aged three and six. 

Baby Gammy was left behind in Thailand by his biological Australian parents who returned to WA with his healthy twin sister. He is believed to have Downs syndrome and a congenital heart condition.

Getting tough on surrogacy in Thailand

Thai authorities are cracking down on surrogacy in Thailand, declaring that any baby born under surrogacy arrangements would need the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take the baby out of the country.

Dozens of Thai clinics have pulled down or changed websites advertising surrogacy and gender selection IVF procedures that were popular with Australians. Authorities have warned that clinics advertising gender selection would be prosecuted.

The crackdown has left about 200 Australian couples who have surrogacy arrangements in Thailand facing an uncertain future for their babies.

Officials have declared that altruistic surrogacy would be allowed only where a married couple could not conceive a child and engaged a blood relative to carry their child.

Any arrangement where money is provided to the surrogate to carry the child is now illegal and any foreigner removing a child from their mother to another country permanently without permission from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would face prosecution under human trafficking laws.

Why Thailand was a popular choice

Commercial surrogacy, in which a woman is paid to carry a child, is not permitted in Australia, with money limited to the costs of medical and other reasonable expenses. Many couples choose to go abroad, with Thailand and India among the most popular destinations. 

Demand for in vitro fertilisation, with the option of choosing the child’s gender, has been growing at more than 20 per cent in Thailand where the industry has been largely unregulated.

The country has 44 IVF clinics with four new facilities opening last year.

Surrogacy in Australia: Laws

In Australia, it is illegal to enter into any arrangement that compensates the surrogate for anything more than out-of-pocket expenses. But only NSW, Queensland and the ACT have seen fit to apply a similar standard to international surrogacy, using criminal law to discourage residents from engaging in such arrangements overseas.

There is now pressure on the Abbott government to release a Family Law Council report on surrogacy arrangements. It has sat on these findings for more than seven months. 

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