by Michele Zipp
An Australian couple wanted to have a baby but were experiencing issues so they did what many do and went to a surrogate for help. In many cases, surrogacy is an incredibly beautiful thing. It builds families. But this wasn't what happened for this unnamed couple. The surrogate was from Thailand, and the surrogacy was set up through an agency. About three months into the pregnancy, the surrogate, 21-year-old Pattharamon Janbua, learned she was carrying two babies for this Australian couple. Twins! I would think that this couple was ecstatic. I'm a mother of twins and remember when the doctor told me there were two babies -- it was so exciting. I felt blessed.
When Janbua was in her fourth month of pregnancy she got the news that it was believedone of the twins had Down syndrome. That's when the Australian couple asked her to abort. She did not. And when the twins were born -- a girl and a boy with Down Syndrome -- the Australian couple only took the girl.
There is "risk" of some sort in every pregnancy. There is risk of some sort in all of our lives. During any moment of any day something could go wrong. Something could happen that isn't according to your plan. While I understand this Australian couple wanted healthy babies, the fact that they abandoned their child is baffling to me. It doesn't matter what the child had or what challenges that child would have -- that's what we face when we decide to become parents. And this couple very clearly decided to become parents and went to great lengths to fulfill their wish. The surrogate carried their babies -- this was their child, with their DNA, made from them, carried by a woman they paid around $16,000 to deliver.
Have some of us become so cold, so mechanic and computerized that we fail to see how wrong this is? This is the Australian couple's child that they abandoned, and because of the lenient rules on surrogacy in Thailand this is something that happened without much incident. (Those rules have reportedly since been changed.)
This baby boy is named Gammy. He is now six-months-old. In addition to Down syndrome, he has a congenital heart condition, and is battling a lung infection.Janbua has cared for him like he was her own child since the Australian couple abandoned him. She said:
Why does he have to be abandoned and the other baby has it easy? I chose to have him, not to hurt him. I love him, he was in my tummy for nine months, it’s like my child.
Janbua became a surrogate to help with her bills. She isn't a rich woman. When she went public with Gammy's story, donations started to come in -- over $50,000 -- and all the money is going to the treatment and care for Gammy.
I'm having a hard time understanding how this family could just take the sister and leave the brother behind? I know they wanted to abort the unhealthy twin and that in itself is its own issue worthy of a lengthy debate, but that didn't happen because of Janbua's religious beliefs and they knew it. They knew they were going to have two babies -- their babies, their blood. But they chose to keep one and leave the other without any kind of care set up for their child.
More from The Stir: Aborting One Twin While Keeping the Other Is Wrong
Perhaps they felt they couldn't care for a baby with Down syndrome. Perhaps they were scared. But to leave their own baby with the surrogate they paid only to carry their child -- a surrogate with financial issues -- just seems heartless and empty. It's wrong. It's criminal. They left their sick child without a plan, without his parents, without his twin sister. Thank goodness for the love of Janbua, and the community of people who donated money to help him.
Gammy is said to be fighting for his life. Doctors aren't sure how long he will live. I can't help but wonder how that Australian couple feels. If they think of their son. Or if the distance of a surrogacy created the distance of parental emotion. As an outsider, someone just writing about this story, as a twin mom of a boy and a girl, I'm so saddened by this. Gammy is in my thoughts, as is Janbua.
What do you think of this story? How does it make you feel?
Image via Adrian Drebler/Flickr