Thailand: Gay parents in surrogacy battle to keep their daughter

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The US based couple have been refused consent to leave the country by the baby’s mother after she realised they were gay.

The Thai surrogate handed over the baby girl to Gordon and Manuel Lake earlier this year – but ten days later, she refused to sign the documentation needed to allow the couple to obtain a passport for the infant.

The couple claim she is refusing to let them leave because she was unaware they were gay at the time of the birth and wants the baby to be brought up by an “ordinary couple”.

“She said she thought she was doing this for an ‘ordinary family’ and when she found out that it wasn’t an ordinary family she was worried for Carmen’s wellbeing,” Gordon told The Guardian.

In March, the surrogate told the Thai media that she felt a morally obliged urge to help a “legitimate married couple” have a child and even paid her own medical bills during the surrogacy – a claim the couple denies, stating that they have paid tens of thousands of dollars to the mother throughout the pregnancy.

“I was flabbergasted, in a complete state of shock. It’s your worst nightmare in a process like this. I didn’t believe it,” Mr Lake said.

“We were terrified.”

Mr Lake has said he blames the surrogacy agency for not explaining that the couple were gay to the mother, however, a the co-founder of New Life Global Network, Mariam Kukunashvili, has stated she believes the agency have done nothing wrong.

She said the surrogate did know the couple were gay from the beginning of the process and that the couple did not follow New Life’s instructions, leaving the current situation “unmanageable”.

Now the couple will have to fight for baby Carmen in court and are living in a undisclosed location in Bangkok, terrified that she will be taken from them if the mother and Thai government find out where they are.

They plan to launch a court case for full parental rights of Carmen later this month, and finally put an to they call an “absolutely horrific” process.

Since last year’s military coup, the government have come down hard on Thailand’s loose surrogacy laws, leading to a number of high-profile scandals that eventually led to a ban on the industry. Many surrogacy agencies, including New Life Global, have since been forced to close.

In May, a gay couple in the UK won a battle to have a baby girl conceived through surrogacy returned to them – after the mother claimed she did not know the men were gay before she gave birth.