An Australian woman has vowed to fight to bring her unborn child home from Thailand, as officials crack down on the country’s booming surrogacy business following reports that critically ill baby Gammy was abandoned by his parents.
The mother said she would travel to Thailand with her family next month for the birth of her second child, who is being carried by a surrogate. “I’m not leaving my baby there. I’m not coming home without doing everything to bring my baby back," she said.
Speaking to Fairfax Media on the condition of anonymity, the woman said she and her husband had “huge concerns” about the impact of strict new surrogacy rules being imposed after the world’s eye turned to the plight of Gammy, who has Down Syndrome and is in need of life-saving heart surgery.
Their baby is being carried by a seven-month-pregnant surrogate in Bangkok. Like their toddler who was born there almost two years ago - they were one of the first families to use a Thai surrogate - the baby is 100 per cent genetically theirs.
The couple turned to surrogacy after a decade of failed pregnancy attempts and miscarriages. In medical bills, flights and expenses they have spent more than $100,000 on surrogacy in Thailand, but that figure is likely to grow as they prepare the fight to bring their baby back to Australia.
“We’re going to stay over there,” said the mother. “We’ll probably tackle it through the Thai courts. It will have lots of implications [for us], but we’re staying until it’s sorted.”
Their concerns are twofold: the safe return of their unborn baby and the protection of their other child, who will travel with them in the coming weeks and who may now also be at risk due to the changes, which threaten prosecuting foreigners under human trafficking laws if they remove a child from its mother and go to another country.
The mother has already sought legal advice in Australia and has been in regular contact with the Thai medical clinic handling the surrogacy. Her contact there, a nurse, said they were being inundated with calls and emails from distraught families. There are an estimated 200 Australian couples engaged in surrogacy arrangements in the country.
“We’re all very concerned about getting our children out of there,” she said. “We don’t know what will happen yet and how forcefully this is going to be used on us. We’re just holding tight and waiting to see if the dust will settle, if we’ll be able to get [the babies] out.”
The mother, who described the actions of Gammy’s biological parents as “sickening” and “unimaginable”, said couples with existing surrogacy arrangements should be exempt from the new rules.
“Personally I feel that there should be an amnesty for people who were already engaged in contracts,” she said. “We entered into the contract in good faith and we've obviously had success before so we weren't banking on these complications.
"There will be other people this week getting positive pregnancy tests who will be ... absolutely beside themselves.”
Surrogacy Australia said the case of Gammy was an isolated incident and called for the federal government to support families struggling to have children.
“This couple’s decision to leave this child in no way reflects the views of the vast majority of Australian families undertaking surrogacy, president Sam Everingham said. “The Gammy case, while tragic, highlights the urgency of the Abbott government releasing the Family Law Council report on surrogacy arrangements. It has sat on these findings for over seven months now. Australians medically unable to have a child have been ignored by our governments for too long.”
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