UK & World News

  • 10 August 2014, 21:02

'Abandoned' Down's Baby Parents Break Silence

The biological father accused of abandoning a baby because he was born with Down's syndrome has said he would have terminated the surrogate pregnancy had he known sooner about the boy's condition.

A surrogate mother in Thailand gave birth to twins for David and Wendy Farnell.

The girl, Pipah, was healthy and came back to Western Australia with the couple but the boy, named Gammy, was born with the disability and remains in the surrogate's care.

Speaking on Channel 9's 60 Minutes programme, Mr Farnell said: "No parent wants a son with a disability.

"It was late into the pregnancy that we learned the boy had Down's. They sent us the reports but they didn't do the checks early enough."

He denies asking the surrogate mother at any time to have an abortion.

Accused of ditching the boy, the couple have found themselves at the centre of an international scandal.

"It has been very distressing and we miss our little boy," said Mr Farnell.

"I come home from work some days and Wendy has dressed our little girl all in blue. She wants to still remember our little boy."

They say that rather than abandoning Gammy the Thai surrogate, 21-year-old Pattaramon Chanbua, refused to let him go.

"She said if we tried to take our little boy she's going to get the police and she's going to come and take our little girl," said Mr Farnell.

His wife added the whole episode made them both "very, very stressed".

For more than a week Ms Chanbua has repeatedly painted the Farnells as heartless.

To complicate matters further, Mr Farnell has 22 convictions for sexually abusing girls, one as young as five years old.

"There is no reason to be concerned. I'm not going to harm my little girl," he told the interviewer when pressed on whether his daughter would be safe in his care.

Asked if the couple understood why many think they are the most hated couple in Australia, he replied: "I can understand that. For one, thinking that we have abandoned our little boy, it's a terrible thing.

"And then to have me as a sex offender. Everybody hates sex offenders ... that's why I've tried so hard and want to be a good father to my children so people can see that I'm a good person now because I did this bad thing a long time ago."

Worldwide attention generated by the story has led to almost 150,000 being raised to help pay for Gammy's medical costs.

It has also highlighted the disturbing nature of Thailand's surrogacy industry.

Thailand is preparing to fast-track legislation to outlaw commercial surrogacy, banning agencies acting as brokers, or accepting financial or other benefits.

Advertising for women to act as surrogates for commercial purposes would also be illegal.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called on the Thai government to allow a transitional period before the ban, to enable Australians to receive children still being carried by surrogates.

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