Tug of war between gay parents, surrogate

2015-10-23 20:58


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Bangkok - Almost since the day she was born, baby Carmen has been on the run.

The nine-month-old and her fathers, Gordon Lake and Manuel Santos, are in hiding in the Thai capital, changing their address constantly for fear of being found.

Carmen happily crawls around the apartment but is rarely taken outside.

"She should be playing with other children and discovering the world," Lake says.

Keep the baby

The married couple, who are both 41 and have an older son back home in Spain, worry that Carmen will be spotted by the authorities and taken away.

A week after she was born, her Thai surrogate Patidta Kusolsang stopped co-operating with the normal - although unregulated - surrogacy process, and started a battle to keep the baby.

Carmen's rival parents are now fighting it out in the courts, with a ruling due at the end of this month.

"This all just doesn't make any sense to us," said Lake, who said the surrogate had been paid in full through an agency. "But we won't leave the country without our daughter."

Surrogacy was always going to be the best option for Lake and Santos, who set their hearts on starting a family soon after first meeting in Spain.

With surrogacy banned in Spain and many Western European countries, they narrowed their choices down to India and Thailand. Both are popular destinations for foreign or homosexual couples seeking surrogacy services at relatively low costs.

The average cost of surrogacy in India is about $47 000 and $52 000 in Thailand, while it costs about $100 000 in the United States, according to the non-profit Families Through Surrogacy.

Lake and Santos had their first child Alvaro through a surrogate mother in India in 2012. However India amended its law in 2013, prohibiting homosexual couples from getting a medical visa for surrogacy.

So they turned to Thailand, where commercial surrogacy was unregulated at the time and relatively common.

Whole process

Through an agency, they paid Patidta to carry the child using an egg from an anonymous donor and Carmen was born in January 2014.

Patidta, 34, brought them their "most beautiful girl," but then "turned [their] lives upside down," Lake said.

She refused to sign a document that would allow the baby to get a US passport and failed to provide a letter that would allow the child to leave the country.

In July she filed a charge of child abduction against Lake, accusing him of illegally taking Carmen away from her mother.

"I want to keep the baby," Patidta said in a television interview in July after she filed the charge

"I am willing to return all the money." She has received $13 000 for the whole process.

"I am suspicious that they are commissioning babies for sale," she said, accusations that Lake and Santos deny. "I want to protect her," she said.

Read more on:    thailand  |  gay rights

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