Thai Surrogate Mother: “I Will Always Support Him, My Boy”
She’s his surrogate mother but she loves him. Her connection to him should have ended at birth, but because he was abandoned by his biological parents, she has taken on the responsibility of caring for another woman’s child. And she’s happy to do so. He is her son in all the ways that it can matter.
The young woman, 21-year-old Pattharamon Janbua, agreed to be the surrogate for an Australian couple. It should have been a simple exchange; she would carry a baby that wasn’t her own and then, when the child was born, she would give it to the biological parents and be paid for the use of her uterus. In vitro fertilization, commonly known as test-tube fertilization, has become a common method of producing children for people who cannot conceive.
It wasn’t such a simple matter, after all.
According to a BBC report, the surrogate mother was offered less than $12,000 by a surrogacy agency to participate, and because she desperately needed the money, she said yes. Ms. Pattharamon agreed to the arrangement, believing that the money would pay off a family debt. It was a lot of money, as far as she was concerned, and would help her afford an education for her own children.
But instead of one child, there were two. Twins are common with in vitro fertilization procedures, and Ms. Pattharamon was offered more money as a result. But a medical test performed at four months revealed a problem. One of the twins was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a heart defect. Heart defects occur in 40 percent of babies born with Down Syndrome and are considered a relative risk with IVF.
Abortion rates for Down Syndrome pregnancies are high. In Europe, 92 percent of pregnancies diagnosed with the genetic disorder are terminated. In the U.S., the rate is closer to 67 percent.
When the surrogate mother was told to abort one of the twins she was carrying, she refused. It was, she said, against her Buddhist spiritual beliefs.
In December, the twins were born to Ms. Pattharamon, and the natural parents, who had never met their surrogate, returned home to Australia with the healthy daughter they’d wanted. But they left behind their sickly newborn son with the woman who had refused to kill him.
Gammy was happily accepted into the Thai surrogate’s family despite his health problems and the genetic disorder which will likely make him dependent on their care for the rest of his life. But that life might not be a long one. The loving family were poor enough to say yes to the surrogacy program, but cannot afford the expensive medical care needed to protect the infant’s fragile health.
Gammy is currently in a Bangkok hospital with a lung infection, where he was taken for medical treatment even as the world began to hear about him. A fundraiser was started on GoFundMe and, in only 11 days, the amount creeps ever closer to its $300K goal. The money raised will be held in a trust and used to give the abandoned baby the medical procedures and treatments which he needs.
The world is reacting to the news with outpourings of concern and anger. Changes have already been made to Thailand’s surrogacy laws; like much of the world, paid surrogacy is now illegal in the military-administered constitutional monarchy where Gammy lives.
There have been offers from a number of families who would adopt Gammy and give him a new home, but his surrogate mother intends to keep him, for better or worse. She’s aware of what is involved. She loves him anyway and, while the rest of the world expresses outrage at how Gammy was abandoned, she holds no grudge. His surrogate mother expressed her forgiveness to Fairfax Media in an interview, saying:
“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.”
With the uproar Gammy’s story has caused, they most certainly will have problems if their identity is ever discovered.
If you would like to be involved in the GoFundMe campaign, you can find the details at Hope For Gammy. Currently, the total fund sits at more than $175,000.
[Image Courtesy of GoFundMe.com]