Seven-month-old baby Gammy was allegedly abandoned by his Australian biological parents when they found out he had Down syndrome.
We have heard plenty about David and Wendy Farnell over the past week. And as time went on, the story became more and more complex – and disturbing. There was the father’s history of child abuse. The story about the couple’s relationship being kindled on a Chinese mail order bride website. The RSPCA’s trip to their residence to take their allegedly neglected dog away.
But tonight, the parents have broken their silence in an effort to let Australia “hear their side of the story”.
56-year-old David and his wife Wendy Farnell have spoken exclusively to 60 Minutes’ Tara Brown about their decision to leave their biological son in the care of his 21-year-old Thai surrogate Pattaramon Chanbua, while taking his twin sister Pipah home to a new life in Perth.
Here’s what they had to say:
On leaving Gammy in Thailand:
David: “We didn’t leave him behind. We wanted to bring him with us but things were happening that we couldn’t.”
David: “The surrogate mother wanted to take ‘our girl’ and we were getting scared that we were going to lose her. We had to try and get out as fast as we could.”
On whether they left Gammy in Thailand in an effort to save their daughter:
Wendy: “We always want our son.”
Wendy: “We miss him everyday. We just want to get our son back but know how to.”
On what they tried to do to get Gammy back:
David: “We haven’t asked directly.”
David: “We’ve been trying to make sure first that Pipah is safe. No one can take her away from us. We’ve been trying to do that for 6 months. When we know she’s 100% safe with us then we can go and get our boy back.”
On learning that Gammy had down syndrome:
David: “It was late into the pregnancy that we found out that the boy had down syndrome.”
David: “But it was too late to do anything. They sent us the results but they didn’t do the tests early enough.”
On whether they would have aborted the child if they knew he had Down syndrome:
David: “If it would have been safe for the embryo to be terminated – we probably would have terminated”-
David: “I don’t think any parent wants a son with a disability. Parents want their child to be healthy and happy and be able to do everything that every other children do.”
David: “We never abandoned him. We never said to the surrogate mother to have an abortion. We just said let’s see how things go.”
David: “The boy has got Down syndrome but there are different levels of Down syndrome. We were just hoping that it was not that severe.”
David: “We said that we still wanted him and the agency – while we were in Australia – we still looking at other options.”
David: “We were very confused and we said that ‘this is your fault, you must now take some responsibility for this’.”
David: “I expected that there would be a financial…. Okay then… Give us back our money because this is your fault. The money that we’ve given you… give it back now.”
Tara: “You wanted your money back?”
David: “It’s not about the money, we were scared, we didn’t know what to do.”
On whether the truth is that they didn’t want a baby with Down syndrome:
David: “It’s not a difficult decision. We wanted our babies.”
On why they chose surrogacy:
David: “We’ve been trying IVF here in Australian for maybe 8 years. It was just getting so long and so expensive.
David: “We had given up until we were shown surrogacy on TV.”
David: “I admit we didn’t do a lot of research. We flew to Thailand a few times to look and to talk.”
David: “They looked so clean and we thought… ‘We’ll be safe here’.”
On their surrogate:
David: “We’d never met her. The agency organised all this.”
Wendy: “She can’t speak English and we can’t speak Thai so we have no conversation at all.”
On why their surrogate went public with their story:
David: “We did not abandon our son.”
David: “The surrogate mother said she wanted to keep the baby boy.”
Wendy: “Before we come home we ask her ‘can we please have our boy.’ But she get angry because she is wanting a little boy.’
David: “She said that if we tried to take our little boy she was going to get the police and try to take our little girl.”
Wendy: “And she was going to keep both babies.”
On how many times they’ve called to see how their little boy is:
David: “We haven’t.”
On whether they contacted the Australian Embassy to ask about bringing Gammy home:
David: “No. Because we were worried that we were going to lose our daughter. We had to get our daughter home. Then we can do what we needed to do.”
David: “Our visa was running out.”
On whether they took photos of Gammy:
David claims he bought nappies and milk for both babies. But there is confusion between the couple about whether they were allowed to take photos of the children in hospital.
On missing baby Gammy:
David: “It has been very stressing. We miss our little boy.”
David: “I come home from work some days and Wendy has dressed our little girl all in blue. Because she wants, still to remember, the little boy.”
David: “I have regrets that I don’t think we did enough. I have regrets that I think we should have gone to the embassy and told them everything but at the time we were stressing that we were going to lose our little girl. We needed our little girl to be home. We needed her to be safe. “
On David’s history as a child sex offender:
David: “I have been convicted of child sex offences and I hand my head in shame. And I am deeply regretful for that. I am so so sorry to those people.”
David: “I was convicted and I went to jail. And when I got out of jail I though ‘I can run and hide and change my name… but I thought no, I need to face everybody’. So I stayed, I copped abuse. I copped a lot of horrible things. But I stayed there and I faced it and I said that I would continue until I can hold my head up high again.”
David: “I think seeing my children and thinking that if someone did that to my children I would be devastated.”
Tara: But you had children…
David: “I know. But I didn’t think of that. I didn’t think of the other side.”
On the question of whether David can categorically say that his baby daughter will be safe in his care:
David: “She’ll be 100% safe.”
David: “I don’t have any thoughts about this a all. That is 100% the truth.”
David: “I cannot do this again. I can’t do this. I know that I do not have any urges at all of this nature. For 30 years I’ve known this. I don’t have any urges.”
On whether Wendy trusts David with their daughter:
Wendy: “I 100 % trust David to not do any wrong this for the little girl. He had three children before, they all love him and respect him so much. They said he’s a wonderful father.”
David: “I can understand why people are concerned. But there is no reason to be concerned. I’m not going to harm my little girl.”
Wendy: “I 100 % believe him.”
On whether Wendy knew about his past:
Wendy: “Yes. I think he’s not a bad person. Very good husband. Very good father and very good son.”
On whether they understand why people are concerned:
David: “I can understand that. For one, thinking that we have abandoned our little boy, is a terrible thing. And then to have be as a sex offender, everybody hates sex offenders, they are the lowest form of people. Not even worthy of breathing, I know that.”
David: “That’s why I’ve tried to hard and wanted to be a good father for my children. So that people can see that Im a good person now. Because I did this bad thing a long time ago.”
On whether there’s a risk that their daughter will be taken away:
David: “I hope to God that she won’t. And if she does.. If they think there’s a… I will get out of their lives.”
In a press release published prior to the interview being aired, Channel Nine relayed the following information that the Farrells wanted to make clear:
They would like Australia to hear their side of the story, before passing judgement on them.
They have been cooperating with the Department of Child Protection since Wednesday morning, and will continue to do so.
They were feeding their dog every day until the RSPCA took her away.
60 Minutes Executive Producer Tom Malone said that the Farrells had not been paid any money for the interview:
“We never comment on any commercial arrangements between 60 Minutes and our interview subjects but given the nature of this story, it’s important our viewers know that no money has been or will be paid to the parents. However, 60 Minutes will be making a donation to the charity Hands Across the Water, which is raising money for Gammy’s ongoing treatment and care,” he said.
You may also be interested in:
Mia Freedman writes: Could this be the real reason why Gammy’s parents abandoned him?
Response from a parent of a child with Down Syndrome: To the Australian couple who abandoned their son with Down syndrome.
Mamamia’s first report on Gammy: The surrogate child an Australian couple didn’t want.