For more than a year, Gordon Lake and Manuel Santos have been fighting to bring their baby Carmen home, who was born to a surrogate in Thailand., The couple are hoping that their legal battle will end on March 31, 2016 and they will finally be able to leave Thailand with their daughter. The Thai surrogate hired to carry Lake and Santos’ baby refused to sign the final documents that would allow the couple to leave the country after she discovered the couple was gay.
Complicating the issues even more, Thailand banned commercial surrogacy last year, and does not recognize gay marriage.
Unable to receive a passport for their baby girl, Lake and Santos have been in Thailand since their baby was born last January. Lake is American and Santos is a Spaniard. The couple lives in Spain.
With the help of a crowdfunding account which reached $36,000, Lake and Santos have been able to remain in Thailand with their daughter. The monies have also contributed to their attorney and court costs.
Lake is Carmen’s biological father, his sperm having been used to fertilize eggs from an anonymous donor. Their surrogate, Patidta Kusolsang, has no genetic link to Carmen. However, Thai law dictates that the birth mother is the mother of the child. Although Kusolsang gave Carmen to her fathers after birth and allowed the two men to take Carmen from the hospital, she ultimately decided not to sign the documents required for them to obtain a passport for Carmen to leave Thailand because she didn’t want the baby to be raised by gay men.
According to the Associated Press, reporter Ying Panyapon writes, “Lake has said he doesn’t know why the surrogate says she didn’t know he was gay. He says he was clear about that from the start with their surrogacy agency, called New Life, which has branches in several countries.”
In Thailand, New Life’s Bangkok headquarters officially closed its doors in July 2015, when commercial surrogacy was deemed illegal. However, government officials have provided a grace period for intended parents who were already engaged in the surrogacy process.
Lake, 41, said that he hopes the judge hearing their case is sympathetic to their plea on all counts.
Lake told the media, “It was always known it was a surrogacy agreement. We’re the intended parents. We’re the people that wanted to have a child.” He added, “We just want to go home and we just want to be a family — a normal boring family.”
Living with her fathers since she was born, Carmen is now 14 months old.
Outside the Bangkok’s Juvenile and Family Court, Lake told everyone, “It’s the day we’ve been waiting for — for a long, long time. Today is one of the most important days of our lives. The court should give us custody of Carmen because it’s the right thing to do.”
Lake and Santos’ attorney, Rachapol Sirikulchit, also chimed in after the court hearing, saying that he was confident that custody of Carmen would be granted to his clients.
“Baby Carmen has the right to be with her biological father, who supports her financially and has cared for her since she was born,” he said.
Hopefully, Carmen will receive her passport, and the family can journey home to Spain.