Two dads who had hoped to bring a baby daughter home to Spain from Thailand after she was born there via surrogate six months ago have instead been stranded in Bangkok with her ever since.
The two men, who live in Valencia, believe the surrogate mum, Patidta Kusolsang changed her mind because she found out that they are gay.
Because the birth mum has changed her mind, the fates of the two fathers are in the hands of a Thai court.
The American biological father, Gordon “Bud” Lake, his Spanish husband, Manuel Santos plan to file a petition for permission to leave the country with their baby Carmen.
“For the last six months, we have been stuck in Thailand, faced with the possibility of losing our jobs and our house back in the US because we cannot leave.
If we leave, we risk the greatest loss of all, our beautiful baby daughter, Carmen,” they write on a [https://fundly.com/help-bring-carmen-home#|crowdfunding page] for their legal expenses (which has brought in nearly $30,000 so far).
The pair have noted on Facebook that they have already wiped out their savings on housing, school for their 2-year-old son (who is with them in Thailand), visa renewals, and food.
“All this because our surrogate doesn’t want Carmen to be raised by gay parents, and the law that should give me full parental powers excludes me from obtaining them because I am gay.”
Lake, who did not respond right away to a request for comment from Yahoo Parenting, further explains that when Kusolsang met Santos three days after the birth, she refused to sign the documents for Carmen’s passport and then pressed charges for child abduction.
On Facebook, Lake explains their process for choosing Kusolsang, who was a gestational surrogate, meaning her eggs were not used in the process.
“We thought everything went perfectly during my visit to Bangkok.
We hired what seemed to be a reputable agency to organize the surrogacy, New Life Thailand.
We chose an egg donor, I left my samples for the IVF, and we liked the profile of the surrogate who the agency suggested.
She was from a middle-class family with two sisters, a daughter, a professional job, and what seemed to be a good support structure.”
Thailand recently outlawed surrogacy for profit (while Carmen was in utero) because of a series of scandals, and a ban will go into effect at the end of the month.
A temporary provision may allow the men to leave the country with Carmen, although it defines intended parents as “husband and wife,” according to Lake’s Facebook and Fundly pages.
Also, in Thailand, the woman who gives birth to a baby has all legal rights to that baby and must grant her approval before any intended parents take the baby out of the country.
Kusolsang has denied that the sexual orientation of the men is the reason why she changed her mind.
“I miss her every day,” she told CNN through an interpreter.
“You see how cruel the world today. And I just don’t know what they are going to do with my baby.”
She then explained that she had actually changed her mind earlier, after not being able to obtain details about the intended parents, and has said she would return the couple’s money in exchange for the baby.
The men, however, do not intend on leaving Thailand without their daughter.
“In our mind there is not a possibility that we can lose Carmen,” Lake told CNN.
“She is our daughter, and our daughter belongs with us.”
The fight over Carmen has turned into an ugly he said, she said in the Thai media and has drawn many online supporters for the dads (more than 75,000 of whom have signed a Change.org petition), stirring a dialogue that has turned nasty at times.
“Of course the surrogate mother is a delusional psychopath and she has no biological relation to baby Carmen,” writes one Facebook commenter, Tosapit Jingjo Phadetpai of New York.
“Guess what, she is NOT Carmen’s mother she is just a mutually agreed business transaction, scientifically, the closer thing to a mother for baby Carmen is the anonymous egg donor.”
Supportive tweets for the dads have included, “Patidda said they are human trafficking? Screw you!”
Jennifer Lahl, an anti-surrogacy advocate who is president of the nonprofit Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, is not surprised at the public tone of the case.
“How do you go against that powerful narrative of people who want to be parents? Surrogacy is a global billion-dollar industry,” she tells Yahoo Parenting.
“[Public] sympathies are going to be with this family who desperately wants a child, not with this woman who made an agreement and changed her mind and is now ‘ruining their lives."
In most surrogacy cases, she says, “Everybody wants the woman to disappear,” and choosing foreign surrogate makes that whole idea seem easier — as well as cheaper — and is why the option is often a draw for Americans.
But the battle over Carmen, Lahl says, is an example of why the practice of surrogacy should be ended altogether, the battle cry of her newly launched global campaign, Stop Surrogacy Now, which so far has support from 16 organisations in 18 countries.
Her reasoning, she says, is based on the “hardline feminist view that we shouldn’t be using women’s bodies,” which applies to all.
“This isn’t about how gay people shouldn’t be parents through surrogacy, this is about how nobody should,” says Lahl, a former nurse and maker of the documentary Breeders: A subclass of women?.
She says the commonly heard explanation from parents who use surrogates is, “She needed the money, we needed the baby, we helped each other.”
But, she continues, “The only reason she’s helping you is that she needs the money.”
Regarding gestational surrogates, Lahl adds, “I don’t care that she didn’t contribute genetically, we can’t diminish the bodily contribution over the genetic contribution, because this baby wouldn’t be here without her.”
Regarding the egg donor and others like her, she notes, “While most believe they are helping people, it’s important to know that she could help create a nightmare.”
Now that Lake, Santos, and Kusolsang are in this situation, Lahl explains, “The question is, what’s in the best interest of the child?"
"We need to acknowledge the fact that this woman is the birth mother and has rights, and that this man is the biological father.
“How do we acknowledge that both of these people have rights, and that the child has rights to both of these parents?
"There’s no winning now that this has happened.”
Morning news break – July 30