BANGKOK – Gordon Allan Lake and Manuel Valero a gay couple from the United States said their lives were being “destroyed” after a Thai surrogate mother refused to sign papers allowing them to take their baby out of Thailand because they were gay.
The couple said Miss Patidta, the surrogate and not the baby’s biological mother, decided she wanted to keep their baby as the couple was preparing to leave Thailand.
Even though Miss Patidta acknowledged that Carmen had no biological connection to her, she said she developed “a special bond” with the baby.
“We ate the same things, drank the same things, breathed the same air, and that relationship made me very, very happy,” the surrogate said.
Co-founder of New Life Global Network, Mariam Kukunashvili said the surrogate knew they were gay parents from the beginning of the process – a charge the surrogate’s lawyer denies – and that the contract was bilingual. She added that Lake and his husband did not follow New Life’s instructions and the situation has since become “unmanageable”
Miss Patidta’s lawyer, Verutai Maneenuchanert who is a legal adviser to the Thai Senate feels that connection is more real than the one Carmen’s biological father and his husband have with the baby.
Patidta “had issues” with the couple’s sexual orientation, said Lake, and did not show up at the US embassy in Bangkok in January to sign the babies passport application and give them the papers needed to leave Thailand.
“We have been here six months and our lives are being destroyed,” Lake said.
“Our families have missed out on the first six months of Carmen’s beautiful life.”
Miss Patidta did not respond to a request for comment.
Thailand passed a law in February that bans foreigners from seeking surrogacy services.
The law does not come into effect until July 30 and Lake and Valero are not in violation of Thai law for commissioning surrogacy last year.
The US embassy in Bangkok said US citizens in Thailand were subject to Thai law.
“Pursuant to US law, the Department cannot issue passports to minor children without the consent of the legal parent/s or guardians/s,” said embassy spokeswoman Melissa Sweeney.
Under current Thai law, the birth mother is recognized as the mother of the child and commissioning parents have no automatic legal rights over a child, said Wanlop Tankananurak, a member of the National Legislative Assembly who helped draft the surrogacy law.
Lake said the couple, who have a son, Alvaro, who was born through surrogacy in India two years ago, chose Thailand because regulations in India had changed.
“Thailand has great medical facilities, hospitals, embryologists and surrogacy has been going on for years in Thailand,” he said.
“Everyone had great expectations, there was no reason to think anything could go wrong.”
Lake and his family have a new lawyer and will launch a court case for full parental rights of Carmen later this month.
Lake has crowdfunded $23,000 for a trial that could last months. He works online remotely and is trying to bring up both children in Bangkok.