In Australia, a senior judge is requesting that child welfare authorities and police investigate the surrogacy case of a baby boy who was abandoned by his parents in India.
ABC News reports that in 2012 a couple delivered a set of fraternal twins via a commercial surrogacy deal but refused to adopt both children. They said that they couldn’t afford both even though they had initially agreed to take them home to Australia. The pair was reportedly born healthy but the Australian High Commission ultimately agreed to grant a passport to just one of the children.
However, according to Chief Justice John Pascoe, commercial surrogacy deals are completely illegal in New South Wales and are serious grounds for an investigation. He said, “I would imagine there would be a number of reasons why the police should be involved and obviously the welfare authorities as well. I would have thought also that Australia has some obligation to track down and look after the welfare of the child that has been left behind.”
Indian Supreme Court senior counsel Shekar Nephade said he wants the couple charged with child abandonment and extradited to India. “It’s an offence in India, it’s punishable [by] up to seven years imprisonment. If the Australian High Commission had information about the child, being that of the Australian couple, I’m afraid what they have done is improper. I would describe it as aiding and abetting the Australian couple abandoning the other child.”
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that as no application for Australian citizenship or passport was made for the male child at the time, India became responsible for his welfare and any adoption arrangement became a matter for its legal system. He said Australian officials at the High Commission have no concerns about the legality of the adoption in India.
The Chief Justice of Australia’s Family Court, Diana Bryant said she was told by two High Commission staff that money had changed hands during the adoption process, which if true, would amount to child trafficking. She said an inquiry into commercial surrogacy is required.
“I think an inquiry is the first step,” she said. “There are a number of things that we could do. I’ve suggested that legalizing commercial surrogacy in Australia is one of them.”
For example, in Thailand, twin baby Gammy (pictured) was abandoned by his biological parents because he had Down syndrome and their surrogate refused abortion. After the birth, his parents, David and Wendy Farnell, fled to Australia with his healthy sister; and in 2014 they took to Australia’s “60 Minutes” to defend their decision to abandon their son.
David Farnell, who’s a convicted sex-offender, said that he demanded a refund on his surrogacy fees and would have aborted the baby had he known earlier that his child had Down syndrome. Additionally, Farnell claimed that his baby girl Pipah is safe with him despite his past as a sex offender.
He said, “I am not going to harm my little girl. She [Pipah] will be 100 per cent safe because I know I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl. I have no inclinations … They have 100 per cent stopped. I don’t have this urge to do anything anymore.”
If the surrogate had chosen abortion, Gammy would have been one of the countless babies with Down syndrome who die before they even take their first breath. Unfortunately, some studies show that over 90% of women who receive the prenatal diagnosis that their child will have the condition chooses abortion. Thankfully, the surrogate chose life, and in December, Gammy turned one. Now baby Gammy has been granted Australian citizenship, which will help him receive proper healthcare.