Failed Surrogacy is Failing Babies

The recent report of an Australian couple abandoning their surrogate baby appalls me. When the surrogate mother in India gave birth to twins, the Australian couple reportedly chose to keep only one of the babies based on its gender. The ABC reports that money changed hands in placing the unwanted baby with another family. If you ask me, that’s called child trafficking.

When I read the story, it instantly reminded me of baby Gammy, a chronically-ill baby, who was left with his surrogate mother in Thailand earlier this year, after his Australian parents decided they no longer wanted him.

string_puppetNot only do these two cases shed a seedy light on the commercial surrogacy industry, they cast a spotlight on the faults of human nature. How did those parents justify the commodification of their babies as objects to be bartered, sold, and discarded? How did they intentionally split up siblings, particularly twins, purely to suit their own agendas? Children are not puppets to be manipulated at the whim of their puppeteers.

When my husband and I adopted our daughters from Cambodia, we hired a lawyer to corroborate the background stories of our babies, to ensure there were no dirty secrets, to satisfy ourselves that our girls were not victims of child trafficking. In a country where babies are allegedly sold for $50 in the market, it was our duty to tread carefully, to remove any chances of foul play. Isn’t that the responsibility of educated, self-sufficient people? It’s one thing for poor people in developing countries – where family planning is often unrealistic and unwanted pregnancies can be regarded as another mouth to feed – to abandon or sell innocent children. That is bad enough. It’s abominable that an educated person from a developed nation – whose life decisions are not dependent on poverty, who can afford to hire a surrogate mother – should participate in the abhorrent act of treating a baby like a commodity. It is child trafficking and it is criminal.

I hope the Australian parents of these abandoned babies are held accountable by the law. It might be the only way to prevent other selfish people from jumping into surrogacy arrangements without thinking through their commitment to the child they are creating. The world doesn’t need more unwanted babies – there are already plenty of them languishing in orphanages. I have seen that first-hand.