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Thailand cracks down on surrogacy

Hundreds of Australian families travel to Thailand each year to achieve their dreams of having children. Their future is in doubt after Thailand announced changes to its surrogacy laws.

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Bangkok: The Thai surrogate mother of a critically ill twin baby abandoned by his Australian biological parents says she is determined to bring him up in her impoverished village with her two children aged six and three.

“I’ll take care of Gammy on my own. I’ll not give my baby to anybody,” 21-year-old Pattharamon Janbua said from a hospital outside Bangkok where six-month-old Gammy is struggling for his life.

Scores of Australians, appalled at the plight of Gammy, who has Down syndrome, have offered to adopt him as a funding-raising campaign for his medical bills and care topped $141,000.

Fighting to stay alive: Gammy with his great-grandmother.

Fighting to stay alive: Gammy with his great-grandmother.

Gammy is suffering from a lung infection and needs life-saving surgery for a congenital heart condition but Ms Pattharamon, who is called “Goy,” does not have the money to pay for treatment.

Ms Pattharamon told Fairfax Media she doubts the Australian couple would love and care for Gammy like her “because they are not the real parents.”

“I wish they will love my baby…I forgive them for everything. That is the best thing I can do, forgive…it is best for everybody,” she said.

Abandoned in Thailand: Gammy.

Abandoned in Thailand: Gammy.

“I want to see all my children back together again.''

“I don’t really think too much about the Australian couple. I can’t blame them…I don’t feel upset or angry about them anymore. They might have their own problems too.”

Ms Pattharamon said her dream is for Gammy to be a good person.

“I don’t wish him to be the smart boy or intelligent person…I just want to see him as a good man,” she said.

“Whatever he wants to be I will always support him, my boy.”

A representative of the Australian charity Hands Across the Water assisted Ms Pattharamon at the hospital on Saturday and arranged for the hospital’s bills to be paid.

Hands  is making arrangements for Gammy to be taken to a private hospital in Bangkok, probably within 24 hours.

Ms Pattharamon said she was “very happy” to hear about the fund-raising after being unable to receive help from “many organisations” since the anonymous couple took his healthy twin sister to Australia.

“I did not expect this kind of help because since the Australian couple left me with Gammy nobody wanted to help me,” she said.

“I especially did not expect it from the country where people came from to hire me to be a surrogate mother… I’ll share some of the money to help other babies who have Down syndrome and orphan children.”

Ms Pattharamon rushed Gammy to hospital on Thursday night as Fairfax Media reported how she  was cheated by a Thai surrogacy agent and left to try and save Gammy's life. 

“I think the baby will not make it because the lung infection is very serious,” she said before doctors  said Gammy’s condition had slightly improved.

Ms Pattharamon said she plans to go to Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations, the Thai equivalent of the FBI, on Monday to file a formal complaint against the surrogacy agent who last year offered her $11,700 to be the surrogate for the Australian man and his ethnic Asian wife.

The agent asked her to abort the pregnancy when doctors learnt one of the twins had Down syndrome.

She refused because of her Buddhist beliefs.

When the babies were born in a Bangkok hospital the agent took the girl and left her with Gammy.

Ms Pattharamon never saw or met the Australians.

Australian government agencies are examining the surrogacy industry in Thailand and are expected to make representatives on behalf of Australian couples.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “It’s an incredibly sad story…I guess it illustrates some of the pitfalls involved in this particular [surrogacy] business.”

Gammy’s plight has been revealed as Thai authorities crack down on surrogacy and the use of IVF to determine the gender of babies, a booming business  that has been largely unregulated in the Thai capital. 

Hundreds of existing surrogacy arrangements with Australians are under threat with couples facing uncertainty about the future of their babies.

Senior Thai health and legal officials have declared that any foreigner removing a child from its mother to another country permanently without permission from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be violating the country’s human trafficking laws.

A couple living in Australia who are waiting for the birth of twins through a surrogate mother in Thailand are “going through torture” after Thai authorities raided a clinic and seized documents on their case, according to surrogacy lawyer Stephen Page.

Mr Page said the intending parents cannot contact the surrogate mother because the only way to do that is through the doctor.

“They are concerned the children are OK. They are concerned the surrogate is OK,” Mr Page said.

“They are worried the surrogate or themselves could be charged with child trafficking if they try to bring the children to Australia,” he said.

“At the moment the status of surrogacy contacts in Thailand is unclear.”

Mr Page said he implored the Australian government to appeal to the Thai military junta that seized power last May to allow babies to go to Australia with their parents.

“The children are not to blame for the change in policy…what will happen to them?,” Mr Page said.

“Are they going to end up in a Thai orphanage  or are they going to be allowed to go home?.”