IMMIGRATION officials are on high alert at all of Thailand’s international airports — including the holiday spot of Phuket — as foreigners try to get their babies born to surrogates out of the country. Their urgent bid to flee comes after a countrywide crackdown on commercial surrogacy which this week saw two Australian couples prevented from leaving Bangkok.
Australian family lawyer Joe Lynch, who is based in Bangkok, told News Corp Australia that immigration officlas from airports across Thailand were flown into the capital on Monday for government briefings. “People are looking at using other international airports … (officials) were flying down to be briefed on the government’s present position,” he said. “People were considering getting out through other airports but I don’t know that that’s going to be available to them. “One of the Australian citizens turned back yesterday … she attended Bangkok airport with the child, who had an Australian passport, and the surrogate. They all planned to fly to Singapore but they were not permitted to do so.”
Four couples — two from the United States and two same-sex couples from Australia — were prevented from leaving Bangkok’s international airport on Thursday afternoon after Thai police ordered that no surrogate babies be allowed out of the country without an order from the Thai Family juvenile Court, which could take months to obtain.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement that embassy officials in Bangkok were “assisting Australians with children born by surrogacy in Thailand who have been prevented from departing the country in recent days”. It said Thai authorities were now “enforcing strict documentation requirements upon exit of the country when they suspect a child has been born by surrogacy in Thailand”. The department said while regulation of surrogacy in Thailand was a matter for Thai authorities, Australia was continuing “to encourage Thai authorities to adopt appropriate transitional arrangements for any new measures they may introduce, so concerned Australians are not unduly affected”.
The military-run Thai government clampdown on the burgeoning commercial surrogacy industry comes after publicity surrounding a Thai surrogate mother who claimed she was left with a Down syndrome baby — a little boy called Gammy — who was rejected by his Australian biological parents David and Wendy Farnell because of his disability.
The biological parents dispute the circumstances in which they abandoned their son and took his healthy twin sister home. Mr Lynch said he is not representing either of the Australian couples who were stopped from leaving but he has three Australian clients who are ready to head home. “I have a number of clients who have children in Bangkok at the moment and I have a large number of clients who have children on the way so they’re all extremely nervous and very worried,” he said, “The embassy is assisting them with urgently processing their babies’ applications for citizenship.
“I understand there are about 250 Australian babies on the way.”