Reports are stating that a gay couple have been forced into hiding in Thailand after their surrogate told them she wanted to keep the baby. In January 2015 when Carmen, now six months old, was only a week old the intended parents were on their way to obtain Carmen’s U.S. passport when the surrogate broke the news via text. Since then they have lived with the knowledge that Carmen could be taken away from them.
Prior to 2014 Thailand had an established surrogacy industry which was used by many intended parents from around the world. However, following the scandals of 2014, the baby Gammy story perhaps being the most notorious, surrogacy in Thailand was made illegal. In this case the surrogate was already pregnant with baby Carmen when the law was changed, which has added to an already complicated legal framework.
It is reported that a donor egg was used in these circumstances and therefore the surrogate is not biologically related to baby Carmen.
It is thought that when the surrogate found out that the intended parents where gay she expressed concerns for the child’s wellbeing. Carmen’s future lies in the hands of the Thai courts and it remains to be seen how they will approach the surrogate’s objections. The surrogates objections are disputed by the intended parents who refute any claims that the surrogate did not know they were gay throughout the agreement. It is reported that the surrogacy agency supports the intended parents, stating that the surrogate knew they were gay from the beginning.
This case highlights the problems which can arise should a surrogate refuse or withdraw their consent. The current situation, where Carmen has no legal parents and is stateless, is simply unacceptable.
Due to the conflicting laws and cultural differences associated with international surrogacy cases it is vitally important that intended parents speak to a specialist surrogacy solicitor at an early stage.