Preventing Unfavorable Outcomes From Surrogacy

Victoria Ferrara


A recent case involving a 21-year-old surrogate from Thailand and an Australian couple has sparked a great deal of controversy. The facts are far from clear.  The case involves a baby boy, Gammy, born with Down's Syndrome and a congenital heart disease. He was left behind with the surrogate by the Australian couple, who took his twin sister back home with them. Each side has differing views of why the baby is still in Thailand. However, the facts, while they matter, are not why this case is resonating with so many people.

The Thai case illustrates how surrogacy, while a very rewarding experience for everyone involved, can sometimes result in unfavorable results. The outcome is noteworthy because a child was brought into the world by a foreign woman who was only paid $10,000. The Australian couple who were supposed to be the intended parents did not even speak the same language as the surrogate. How could they communicate regarding serious issues of pregnancy, birth defects, twins, medical treatment, etc.?  What this case shows so clearly is that surrogacy must be managed and supervised by a knowledgeable, caring, and insightful team of experts and professionals.

At its best, surrogacy involves a group of people committed to bringing a child into the world and who are aware and informed of the risks involved. At the core of the group are the intended parents and the surrogate (and her husband if she is married). This core group should get to know each other and must have mutual respect for each other. The intended parents should respond with gratitude and compassion for the surrogate and there should be fair compensation paid to the surrogate. The surrogate must realize that the intended parents are nervous and hopeful. Surrounding this core group are the professionals. There must be a reputable reproductive physician conducting the testing and medical procedures and his or her staff to coordinate medical calendars and protocol. Further, it is absolutely necessary to have a lawyer (and/or a surrogacy agency with a lawyer) who specializes in assisted reproductive technology (ART) law together with his or her staff to manage and coordinate the complex legal issues that a surrogacy journey presents. There are hundreds of successful surrogacies in the United States every year. The success and the joy that all parties experience in the surrogacy process is a direct result of the responsible and proper management and supervision of that process as well as the mutual respect of all parties.

In the Thailand case, the agreement between the parties was not clear. There are different accounts of what happened according to both the surrogate and the Australian couple. The case is getting more and more attention as the Australian government gets involved and the surrogate considers taking legal action to get Gammy's twin sister back. All in all, this case proves that surrogacy agreements should not be taken lightly. To read more about the case and recent happenings, click here.

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