What should have been a beautiful moment for couple Gordon and Manuel, has turned into a nightmare, as they are now in a legal battle for their surrogate daughter.
Essentially, the surrogate is refusing to allow the couple to leave the country with their daughter because she claims she was unaware they were gay.
The surrogate, who is completely unrelated to the baby in question, handed over the child to Gordon and Manuel initially, but then the trouble began when she refused to sign documents that would allow the child to get a passport.
When he spoke to The Guardian, Gordon said: “I was flabbergasted, in a complete state of shock. It’s your worst nightmare in a process like this. I didn’t believe it. We sent messages back. Hoping there was some sort of miscommunication. We were terrified.”
Six months later, he and his partner are still living in a secret location in Bangkok (as well as their surrogate child from India), as they are terrified they will take Carmen – the Thai surrogate – away.
What is already a messy legal situation is made worse by the fact that while Carmen was in the womb, the military overthrew the government and shortly after banned commercial surrogacy.
So naturally, Gordon and Manuel were relieved when the surrogate mother signed the release documents for Carmen. However, that relief and happiness didn’t last, as she asked for Carmen back only ten days later.
Gordon said: “She said she thought she was doing this for an ‘ordinary family’ and when she found out that it wasn’t an ordinary family she was worried for Carmen’s wellbeing.”
Complicated enough for you? Unfortunately it only gets messier. The surrogate has since appeared on Thai TV (with her face hidden), and made claims that she could not understand the contract because it was in English. She then went on to claim that she wanted to do this for a “legitimate married couple”, and also paid her own medical bills. Gordon was quick to deny this claim, and has said that they have paid roughly US$35,000 $47,00 so far for the process.
The surrogate’s lawyer is further muddying the waters by making claims that the egg used belonged to the surrogate, despite documentation proving otherwise.
Some of this definitely falls on the agency the couple used, New Life. Their Thailand office closed following the bans. They did say in a statement to the Guardian that the surrogate knew they were gay from the start (which the surrogate’s lawyer is denying) and that the contract is bilingual, but then went onto claim that the couple did not follow their instructions.
Despite this, Gordon and Manuel have a new lawyer and will be launching a court case for full parental rights of Carmen next month, and they have even crowdfunded $23,000 for the trial.