Gordon “Bud” Lake and his husband are the proud fathers of a baby girl. But this situation is not as simple or happy as just that.
The men want to bring their baby back to their Florida home, but they are stuck in Thailand because the appropriate parental paperwork and USA passport have not been issued.
It appears the root of this issue is their sexual orientation.
The couple’s daughter, Carmen Santos Lake, was born at a Bangkok hospital. They also have a son who was born via surrogate from India but did not encounter this problem when he was born.
Michael Laves, a reporter for the Blade writes, “Lake said the surrogate — who is not the baby’s biological mother — agreed to list him on their daughter’s birth certificate as her father. He told the Blade the surrogate also signed a consent form that allowed him to take her from the hospital. ‘All seemed to be going well,’” wrote Lake in an email to the Blade earlier this month. Lake continued, “Carmen was beautiful, happy and healthy. The surrogate was fully cooperating and I was looking forward to heading home with my family in a matter of weeks, once all the remaining paperwork was finalized.”
Lake told the media publication that he suspected there was a problem a few weeks after his daughter was born. The surrogate told the couple’s attorney that she was fine helping an “ordinary couple” not able to have a family. The term, “ordinary,” referred to a traditional husband and wife and not gay.
“I don’t know if the agency told her beforehand,” Lake said.
This of course triggers the question of whether or not full disclosure was provided to the surrogate prior to the embryo transfer. If this occurred, would a problem such as this be happening at this very moment?
Lake went on to tell the publication that the surrogate is represented by the Women’s Lawyers Association of Thailand. The surrogate did not appear for a scheduled meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok where she was supposed to furnish the proper documentation, including an American passport, so Lake could leave the country with the baby.
In the eyes of Thai law, currently Lake has no parental rights to his baby.
Laves reports, “A new law that outlaws surrogacy for foreigners in Thailand is scheduled to take effect on July 31. Current Thai law stipulates that the surrogate has full legal and parental rights to Lake’s daughter, even though he is listed on her birth certificate as her father.”
Lake has already undergone a DNA test for paternity.
He told the Blade, “I still don’t have any parental rights, according to Thai law.”
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok has issued a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or CRBA, Laves reports, which certifies a child who is born overseas, is an American citizen at the time of their birth. When “consent” is provided from both parents, which is listed on the baby’s birth certificate, Thai administrators will consider issuing a U.S. passport.
While these husbands are experiencing a nightmarish event and want to come home, it’s important to note that people seek countries like Thailand, India, Nepal and Mexico for surrogacy because of lower expenses. Conversely, operating costs for these surrogate agencies are cut-rate.
The foundation of doing business with countries such as these remains unstable.
In the United States, intended parent(s) who work with agencies in a surrogate-friendly state experience radically different situations than what Lake is experiencing in Thailand. The surrogate would not be able to deny parentage because there are laws to protect the parents and the surrogates.