In the wake of the Baby Gammy controversy where an Australian couple were accused of rejecting their surrogate child who was born with Down syndrome in Thailand and keeping his twin sister, another Australian couple’s surrogacy was put in jeopardy.
In his new book, Designer Baby, Aaron Elias Brunsdon opens up about the moment he and his partner Jayson Brunsdon found out Thailand had stopped surrogacy while a Thai surrogate was pregnant with their baby.
At 4 am in London, Aaron received a series of frantic text messages from Jayson in Sydney, “Call me. It’s urgent.”
I ring Jayson immediately, still cross-eyed from sleep, and he cries hysterically on the phone, the cry of a fearful man.
“It’s not good news. Bad, actually,” he says, still crying, his voice bleak and drawn.
“Yes, I am listening. Don’t worry me, what is going on?” I suspect something to do with Thailand and our unborn son who is being carried by a surrogate there.
“We are f**ked. Thailand has stopped surrogacy completely and we can’t bring him home either.” He is in anguish, and the words cut me deep. This is the big bombshell we never expected. Worse than what we imagined; in truth it is completely devastating.
I read an article about the meeting between the various IVF clinics and government representatives; they announced the “ominous news” for those who undertake surrogacy in Thailand. It is over!
“Surrogacy is dead in the water,” another blogging lawyer, Stephen Page writes. The line echoes in my head for weeks. Stephen’s blogs I found crucial and informative. They helped me make impartial decisions during the haphazard times.
He reports that surrogacy in Thailand will be restricted to medically infertile, heterosexual and married couples: the surrogacy must be altruistic and that the surrogate must be a blood relative. Surrogacy is illegal in Thailand if the intended parent or parents are unmarried under Thai law and if any money is paid to surrogates. Removing children from Thailand without the permission of authorities will breach Thailand’s human trafficking laws.
We are in violation, and most probably will be thrown into a Thai jail if we are caught attempting to exit with our son. The new law includes all foreigners currently pursuing surrogacy in Thailand. There is estimated to be more than 300 Australians alone stuck in a similar plight.
We are in serious breach of the new law already and will be even more so when we begin the process of bringing our baby home. The crime is so serious they have threatened a maximum three-year jail sentence and a 200,000-baht fine.
For starters, I don’t want to get stuck in a Bangkok jail cell for any given time. Yuck, yuck, yuck! The thought of becoming some other convict’s bitch, creepy crawlies swarming the cell and a filthy squat toilet is somewhat terrifying. The press will have a field day.
Jayson thinks the Australian embassy will want to ensure new Thai laws are met, hence getting an Australian passport for our baby will be a major nightmare.
“Damn, damn, damn,” is all I can say, murmuring those words again and again under my breath. My stomach is in turmoil.
I don’t know exactly where to start or what to say. I am so far away from Jayson, and the thought of him alone and dealing with this crisis in Sydney is adding to my burden. Jayson, being private in nature, isn’t the type to speak to anyone nor does he handle crises very well. We cry on the phone while agreeing on one thing: with the lengths we have gone to so far for our baby and braving all obstacles, we are still fighting for him, and we are certainly not giving up now. One way or another we will find a way to bring him home legally, or illegally if it comes to that. Nothing will deter us from doing so.
Designer Baby: A surrogacy journey from fashion to fatherhood by Aaron Elias Brunsdon is out April 1.