' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Thailand's booming business in surrogacy is an ethical swamp

Friday, August 29, 2014

Thailand's booming business in surrogacy is an ethical swamp

A surrogate has twins. One of them has Down Syndrome. The biological parents only want the perfect child, and leave the Down Syndrome baby with the surrogate. Later it emerges, the father, David John Farnell, was convicted of 22 charges of child sex abuse in the 1990s in Australia. He met his current wife via a matchmaking agency. The child with Down Syndrome remains in Thailand with the surrogate mother, Farnell and his wife have the "healthy" twin. 

A Japanese businessman, multimillionaire Mitsutoki Shigeta, has had at least 15 children with surrogates whose births were weeks or months apart, and were all living in one house. The 24-year-old says his motives are pure; a large family is all he wants. He broke no law;
three of the children were taken to Cambodia where he has a large house; the others are in custody in Thailand. 

Thailand, known as the sex-trafficking center of the world, has an unregulated boomlet in surrogacy, where it has been available for at least a decade. Many poor women in the rural areas look to it to change their lives as it pays about $10,000 for a successful pregnancy, and more for twins, as well as a monthly allowance of around $450 and housing during the pregnancy. These fees are huge in a poor country such as Thailand. 

While no law bans surrogacy in Thailand, the law defines a mother as the person who gives birth. For biological parents to gain custody, the surrogate mother must give up her parental rights, a concession that may require some legal finagling

What's wrong with this picture? Children are being bred like animals, and if there is a problem, the parents feel little or not connection with imperfect results. As Farnell said: "I don't think any parent wants a son with a disability." Well, no, you don't wish for a child with a disability, but you do care for that child once it is born; you do not discard it like damaged stock, as he apparently is willing to do. 

The number of Thai surrogacy births runs to the several hundred a year. Because surrogacy is outlawed in China, many Chinese couples come to Thailand for embryo implantation and then return home to have the baby sub rosa. The womb-rental business in Thailand also benefits from the ban on gay couples in India hiring surrogate mothers. India is the only other Asian country where surrogacy is legal.   

But children are not animals, humans should be better than these examples, but as long as wombs and woman can be rented for a fee, this kind of breeding will go on. Surrogacy, in Thailand as well as the United States, exploits poor women and treats children like chattel. 

A pending ban on surrogacy in Thailand is likely not to end the practice there but drive it underground. While we can decry these instances of sick human breeding, the fact remains that America is the world's largest paid surrogacy destination. Some years ago I read a story in O about a woman who was hired to be a surrogate, but before twins were born, the couple broke up and neither of them wanted the children. I don't know if the surrogate kept them, or they went into the adoption pipeline. 

In recounting these facts, I am almost without words. Surrogacy is a fact of life today. The genie is out of the bottle. Without pay for family and among close friends, it is perhaps not objectionable. Mothers have carried babies for daughters; sisters have done it for sisters. But for pay and profit? It is no better than breeding livestock. It is indeed a brave new world.--lorraine 
Thailand’s Business in Paid Surrogates May Be Foundering in a Moral Quagmire 
'You have robbed them of the opportunity to have a normal life': What judge told paedophile father convicted of TWENTY-TWO child sex offences - as welfare officers step up hunt for couple in baby Gammy case
Japanese man fathers 15 babies via Thai surrogacy

When a child of surrogacy asks: Who is my mommy?
Surrogate Mother Wins Right to Sue for Custody; Police Chief Sentenced for Stealing Surrogate Items
Making babies, just to make ends meet
Exploiting first mothers, then and now

Lethal Secrets
by Annette Baran and Rueben Pannor
While not specifically on the topic of surrogacy, "this compact and compelling book on the psychology of donor insemination presents both problems and solutions. In the world of alternative means of conception, donor insemination is the parent procedure, the most available, successful and egalitarian. Breaking the bonds of silence and ending secrecy is necessary, the authors believe, to address the inherent psyhchological problems. As the world continues headlong down the road of high-tech procedures and methodologies, there is a need to maintain a strong sense of importance of the human element and historical, genetic connections."--Amazon


  1. It makes me ache inside that we are treating people like animals. Women, the giver of life, the mother of all, is treated like a breeding bitch in a puppy mill. And we claim it is because of all the infertility, etc. I would like to know if it isn't more about the idiotic "body image" and monetary gain that occurs. The body image of the wealthy that can afford to hire someone else to give birth and monetary gain of those women that can't afford to be that choosy where their money comes from.

    In the military, when a US service man leaves behind a child, he is not always held responsible for that child. This is wholly different than our allies military personnel. If a woman speaks up when a British military man leaves her pregnant, the man is held responsible for the child's care, education and upbringing... as well as citizenship bestowed without question. At least that is what I was told when I questioned the way US soldiers left behind millions of babies after wars.

    At the same time, a baby born to a US citizen - mother or father - is automatically a US citizen, no matter where the child is born. The catch - the US citizen parent must CLAIM the child. So this mess in Thailand is yet another way that people can avoid things like children with downs or defects.... abandon them on a poor mother in a poor country and refuse to acknowledge them.

    Why can't women work together? Why can't we just be strong enough to know that we are being bought and sold through this adoption and surrogacy business? I am ill even from reading it and feel the need to bathe.

  2. AND more importantly what happens to t he product that was created for someone to make MONEY?

    Have heard here in the US that woman do it to pay school loans buy cars etc. The buyers just want a baby any baby...the person born is nothing but a "purchase" and if that "purchase is not good enough it is returned to never be cared about again. Surrogate may not care and the people that "just want a baby" don't care. Another broken human, broken from birth because they are not good enough.

  3. "A pending ban on surrogacy in Thailand is likely not to end the practice there but drive it underground. "

    And that's exactly what happened in Australia. Lorraine I almost never agree with your positions but in this case I am with you. The reality is as long as our society puts a greater value on being a parent than not people will go to certain measures to become parents. That doesn't mean it's justified it just means it's not going away and that rather than banning things like surrogacy it should be regulated requiring all parties to be fully educated on it.

    Forget what these people have been through anyone who is human wouldn't have done what they have done. All they are doing is making it more difficult for those who utilize surrogacy who are respectful of the surrogate and her role in the child being born. As Lori said why can't we all work together and respect one another?

  4. Although using a surrogate mother/ surrogacy is still not very common, it is an excellent option for people for having a baby through novel reproductive technologies

    1. An excellent option for would-be parents. Just as slavery was an excellent option for Southern land-owners. For slaves and foreign surrogates, not so much.

      Surrogacy is a tragic choice for many poor foreign women. They sacrifice their health and well-being for a few dollars. The children born to surrogates may suffer as this post documents.

      Ethical infertiles use American surrogates where there is at least some oversight.

      "Novel" reproductive technologies? More newspeak along with "adoption plan" and other distorted appellations of the child procuring industries.

  5. Surrogacy may be unethical to say but there are many couples who are relying and taking the procedure as their only hope. Yes, we can say that the woman who carries the child may sound like breeding puppy but still with their consent and willingness this is acceptable. Let's make an example of Gay couple who wants to have a child and their only hope is through surrogacy. we cannot deny the fact that this is the only way.

    1. When I first read the comment, I assumed it was tongue-in-cheek. Then I Googled "New Life Surrogacy" and found a long list of New Life Surrogacy outfits.

      You're deluding yourself if you believe that poor Thai women become willing surrogates. You must be aware that they consent to this hideous exploitation of their bodies because they are poor and forced into surrogacy by male handlers just as other Thai women go into prostitution.

      As for gay male couples, they have other options. Have children with a lesbian couple who is willing to share parenting. Have a close relative be a surrogate. These options also give the child a mother, something for which there is no substitute. If these options are not available for the gay male couple, they can adopt a child who needs a family.

      Having a child is not an entitlement. People who use foreign surrogates are simply narcissists who need a child to feed their egos. New Life Surrogacy and its ilk who arrange for poor foreign women to bear the children are no better than pimps.



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