Gay Couple Wins Custody Battle Against Thai Surrogate Mother: A Win For LGBT Parenting Community

An American-Spanish same-sex couple have won the custody battle launched against the Thai woman who agreed to be the surrogate mother of their child and later refused to sign over custody of the child when she discovered that they were gay. The gay couple won the custody battle against the Thai surrogate mother this morning when the central juvenile and family court of Thailand ruled in favor of Gordon Lake and his Spanish husband, Manuel Santos. Their win of the custody battle represents a step away from stigmas surrounding same-sex parenting and non-traditional family units, which have traditionally hampered the custody rights of LGBT parents.

The Guardian reports that Lake is the biological father of the now 15-month-old child, Carmen, but the egg came from an anonymous donor. The battle for custody of Carmen is mitigated by an array of complex legal factors surrounding not only custody but also surrogacy.

"The egg came from an anonymous donor and the surrogate, Patidta Kusolsang, is not biologically related to the baby," said the Guardian."She initially handed Carmen to Lake at the hospital, but later claimed she thought she would be helping a 'legitimate' couple and demanded the baby back."

Manuel Santos left the Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok, Thailand, overjoyed at having won the custody battle for baby Carmen. Gay couple wins custody battle against Thai surrogate mother (Photo by Sakchai Lalit/AP)
Manuel Santos left the Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok, Thailand, overjoyed at having won the custody battle for baby Carmen. [Photo by Sakchai Lalit/AP]The gay couple who won the custody battle over the Thai surrogate mother have suffered for over a year, unable to leave the country with their daughter due to Kusolsang's launching of a legal battle. The custody battle has driven a wedge between an otherwise happy family: since Carmen's birth in January of 2015, Lake resided in a secret Thailand location, fearful that the custody proceedings would end with Carmen being taken away.

"He said the surrogate had asked several times for him to bring the baby to her," continues the Guardian."In March last year, Patidta appeared on Thai TV, hiding her face with a hat and aviator sunglasses and saying she initially felt a moral urge to help a 'legitimate married couple'."

The strain on the gay couple and their family was heightened when Lake's husband, Manuel, moved back to Spain with their 2-year-old son, Alvaro, for his welfare and to maintain income to fight the battle for custody of Carmen. Alvaro is also a surrogate baby, born in India, for whose custody the couple was not forced to battle.

The Guardian reports that Lake and Santos were overwhelmed with joy after hearing that they had won the custody battle against the Thai surrogate mother.

"We are just overwhelmed with emotion. We always knew our story would have a happy ending and we just can't wait for the four of us to be together again."
The Guardian went on to say that while same-sex marriage is not recognized in Thailand, the gay couple chose to seek surrogacy in the south-east Asian country because it has high quality medical facilities and a well-established surrogacy industry for gay couples.

People demonstrate for the legalization of gay marriage and same-sex parenting in Paris in 2012. A gay couple has won the custody battle against the Thai surrogate mother (Photo by Antoine Antoniol /Getty Images)
People demonstrate for the legalization of gay marriage and same-sex parenting in Paris in 2012 [Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images]Kusolsang's seemingly homophobic stance, which led her to revoke custody of Carmen and launch a legal battle against Lake, represents what has been a longstanding battle for gay couples seeking to start a family through surrogacy or adoption. The surrogate's lawyer in the custody battle, however, says that Patidta is not homophobic, but instead "will never ever sell her baby for money."

Though overjoyed, the gay couple that won the custody battle against the Thai surrogate mother has criticized the international surrogacy agency, New Life, for allegedly failing to inform the Bangkok office that they were a same-sex couple. The allegations have been rebuked by New Life, who says that the gay couple did not follow their instructions and caused the custody battle to arise and become unmanageable.

[Photo by Sakchai Lalit/AP]