In an ABC 7.30 Report, 4/08/2014, titled: Babies For Sale the host Sarah Ferguson discusses the surrogacy case concerning Baby Gammy that has captured national and international attention.
Creating families artificially, specifically by Forced Adoption, was made palatable to the broader community by painting it as an altruistic endeavor where couples opened up their home to an unwanted child – their insatiable desire to parent at any cost was recast as: “saving babies”. Unwed mothers were dehumanised as women who willingly gave away their babies to strangers. This was a purposeful campaign – if the community had empathised with the young unwed mother Forced Adoption would not have continued on for as long as it did. However surrogacy cannot be packaged like past Forced Adoption. It is too obviously a trade that is built on satisfying the needs of individuals or couples who want a baby. Spin doctors like Dr. Jeremy Sammut cannot sell surrogacy like Forced Adoption under the guise of child protection. There are no “ineffective” parents from which the baby must be removed – there is no ‘welfare cheat’ creating an underclass that must be stopped and the child moved/saved by more affluent parents.
In the previous post I discussed how little freedom impoverished women have in ‘choosing’ surrogacy. Gammy’s surrogate, Pattaramon Chanbua, is one such a case. She is a mother to a six and two year old. She hoped that the $16,000 she would receive for carrying twins for an Australian couple would improve the life of her family.
Pattaramon Chanbua: “Because of my poverty and debt the money offered was a lot for me. In my mind with that money we can educate my children, repay our debt, we can help our mother and we still have have some funds to start a small business selling things”.
When the Australian couple rejected their disabled son Pattaramon stated she would raise him because: “… I love him, he was in my tummy for 9 months. My child I love him like my own … [speaking to Gammy] never think that you are not my child, never”.
Initially when one of the twins Pattaramon was carrying was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome the Australian couple asked her to abort. She could not because she had become attached to the twins. She stated: “I just cried because they were like my children, we lived together every day. I could feel their movements, their bodies, their hearts are already beating. They were already children, once I heard the word abortion I was upset and cried”.
This is the side of surrogacy that desperate adopters do not want to acknowledge. The forming of a bond between the mother and the infant/s she is carrying and the heartbreak she will inevitably feel when she and her newborn/s is parted. As will the infants that have grown in her body listening to her heartbeat, her voice, experiencing the rhythm of her language, her smell. All of which become familiar so that when born the baby knows it is safe because it still resides in the only environment it has ever known – it feels at home. Surrogacy like Forced Adoption is grounded on loss, heartbreak and long term emotional and psychological damage. However the parents who “must have” a baby are blind to all of the above. Surrogacy is turning something as primal as motherhood into yet another consumer commodity.
Ferguson noted that the international surrogacy industry is basically unregulated. and explained that South East Asian correspondent, Samantha Hawley discovered the plight of Gammy and his surrogate mother while investigating the dark side of an industry in which unwanted fertilized human eggs are sold on the black market and unwanted embryos discarded. Whilst the surrogates are mistreated and underpaid and children, like Gammy, when no longer wanted are discarded and abandoned.
On tonight’s ABC 7.30 Report, Dark Past, Sarah Ferguson, following on from the above segment, announced a “shocking revelation”: “Gammy’s biological father is a convicted pedophile. What now for Gammy’s twin sister”? … The boy’s father has twice been convicted and imprisoned for indecently dealing with children under the age of 13. The news as provoked questions about the lack of regulation of the international surrogacy trade. It has also exposed the weakness of Australian laws that ban commercial surrogacy here but ignore what happens overseas”.
Gammy parents met through an on line dating agency and David Farnell traveled to China to marry Wendy Li in 2004. Prior to this Farnell was sentenced to three years in jail in 1997 for sexually molesting two girls under the age of 13. He was later charged with 6 counts of indecent dealings with child under the age of 13. When he was found guilty the second time he received a further 18 month jail sentence.
When Pattaramon Chanbua heard that the biological father is a convicted pedophile she stated ” I was startled and worried … ” And said if it was safer for Gammy’s sister to be brought back to her she would take of care of both the twins.
In the last post I discussed the lack of screening of parents who traveled abroad and adopted. This was brought to the government’s attention during the Inquiry into Overseas Adoption conducted in 2005, chaired by the now Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop. I brought the matter to the government’s attention again this year. I never received a response.
The ABC reporter noted that the Thai authorities do not conduct any background checks on any of the parents. The only state that does criminal checks on those conducting surrogacy arrangements in Australia is Victoria.
Reporter: It will be up to West Australian child protection authorities decide whether Gammy’s sister stays with her Australian parents
Surrogacy lawyer states: “If they think there is a risk to this child they will take action if they don’t think there is they won’t”
The above comment is hardly reassuring since the father is a convicted pedophile. And what will be the effect of all of this on Gammy’s sister. Separated from the mother in whose womb she grew, separated from her twin, taken to a foreign country where she may be removed yet again. Abuse on abuse –
Forced adoption normalised the transference of a child away from its biological family to be brought up by strangers. It normalised supplying children to an adoption market, so much so when the number of adoptions dropped it was labelled a “crisis”. It created the environment whereby moving infants and children from poor families in developing countries to comparatively wealthy countries under the guise of intercountry adoption, is seen as elevating the child’s status and giving it a chance in the “lucky country”. The loss of the child’s identity, culture and connection with their communities is nullified with some adopters stating that they lost nothing only gained a better life. Forced Adoption paved the way for surrogacy and the normalisation of exploiting another woman’s body to satisfy the personal needs and want of those in more powerful and privileged positions.
Since Tony Abbott has announced he is going to get rid of the red tape and make it “cheaper, quicker and easier” for prospective parents to adopt, both domestically and internationally Australians should not be surprised if they hear many more stories like that of Gammy’s. Abbott is introducing legislation whereby parents can more easily acquire citizenship for children adopted overseas, and he is going to open up bi-lateral arrangements with non-Hague convention countries. The Hague Convention was set up to try and fix some of the many illegalities and corruption occurring in intercountry adoption. There are moves a foot to set up private adoption agencies so commercialize Australian adoption. Who is going to speak up for the children, many of them yet to be born?