parents

Could this be the real reason why Gammy's parents abandoned him?

By MIA FREEDMAN

Somewhere in Australia tonight, there’s a baby girl sleeping soundly in her cot, content in her beautiful new nursery that was so lovingly decorated before she came home.

She’s had her bath, her dinner, lots of cuddles and maybe a story. It all sounds very normal but it’s not.  You see, her parents have waited a long time to do these seemingly mundane things. For them they are very special. They’ve dreamed of having a child of their own and they can’t quite believe they finally have their little girl home with them.

They can’t believe they have a little girl at all!

Becoming parents has been a long, difficult road paved with incredible pain, hope, disappointment and heartbreak.

So many failed attempts to have a baby. So much money spent. So much emotional, mental and physical energy invested. Finally this couple have the family they’ve so desperately craved for so many years.

But tonight there’s an edge to their joy. A guilt perhaps. A nervousness. A fear they will be exposed and that their carefully hidden secret could implode their perfect new life with their perfect little girl. Perhaps it’s been there ever since they brought their precious baby daughter home six months ago. Or perhaps it’s new and they’re in turmoil after some unexpected news last week.

Gammy. Now living with his surrogate mum in Thailand.

You see, these parents have another baby. Their daughter’s twin brother. He has a name – Gammy – although it wasn’t given to him by his parents. If reports are to be believed, it seems they were content to wash their hands and their lives of this beautiful little boy because he was born with Down Syndrome.

We know nothing of this couple or the details of their story but one can only imagine that will change soon. The media will find them and they will be questioned about the heartless decision they apparently made when they flew out of Thailand with their newborn daughter, leaving their sick, disabled son behind with the woman who carried him.

This impoverished Thai woman was only 21 and already had two young children to support. She had agreed to be a surrogate for the Australians to try and support her own family while also helping an infertile couple realise their dream to become parents. She kept her end of the agreement.

We know that more than one embryo was implanted in the surrogate mother via IVF – embryos created with the fertilised eggs of the Australian woman. Every pregnancy carries the risk of Down Syndrome. It is the fault of nobody. It can neither be predicted nor prevented before tests that are carried out at about 3-4 months into the pregnancy.

Every woman, every couple, goes into a pregnancy knowing it’s possible their baby will have Down Syndrome. Clearly, this was never discussed with the surrogate. Her wish not to abort the baby must be respected. Were the Australian parents misled about this? Were they told Gammy had in fact been aborted? Were they perhaps told that he had died?

We don’t know.

There’s a chance Gammy’s parents never knew about him until this story broke in the media. A small chance. Perhaps Gammy’s existence is as much of a shock to them as it is to everyone who has heard this story. Maybe they are reeling and they don’t know what to do.

That’s what I want to believe.  I want to believe these new parents had no idea that Gammy had been born, that he needed urgent medical treatment or that the poor Thai woman who carried him and his twin sister had been left financially and emotionally destroyed by this sudden, unexpected twist in her life.

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I want to believe that this Australian couple were blind-sided by the news of their baby son’s existence and are quietly, desperately working behind the scenes to get their precious baby boy back to Australia. I want to believe that they do see him as precious. That they’ll do whatever it takes so they can welcome him into their presumably financially-secure life and reunite him with his twin sister. That they’ll treasure him just as they treasure their baby without special needs. His twin.

Because the alternative is almost too difficult to contemplate.

If this couple did know about Gammy – and according to Gammy’s surrogate, they did although she never met them in person – they made a decision we’re all struggling to comprehend. They rejected their own child because he was not perfect. Because he had special needs. Because he was sick. And by rejecting him, they impacted upon more lives than just Gammy’s and their own. They deprived their daughter of ever knowing her twin. Her brother. They robbed her of the chance to grow up with a biological sibling. Or even know that she had one.

Even more brutally, they condemned their surrogate, her children and her family to a life of unimaginable poverty and hardship.

Most staggeringly of all though – if they knew about Gammy –  they condemned their son to possible death. Down Syndrome children often have other serious health problems. The congenital heart defect that currently threatens his life is common for babies like Gammy. If Gammy’s Australian parents knowingly abandoned him, they knew they were guaranteeing Gammy a life of pain, destitution and hardship with no prospect of development. They would have known their surrogate mother could never afford to pay for the medical treatment Gammy would need, let alone the extra physical, mental and educational support required by a child with special needs.

This is – presumably – a couple who have gone to great lengths to have a baby. That they could so callously reject a child they had created is breathtaking in its cruelty.

Let’s hope there has been a terrible misunderstanding. Because if there hasn’t, how are this couple able to sleep at night?

And what toxic legacy have they left for their own daughter as well as their son and the innocent Thai family left to deal with the life-long fallout of their decision to leave Gammy behind…

Then there are the implications for all the other Australians who are currently embarking on surrogacy agreements or looking into surrogacy as the only way they can become parents. There are already loud calls from numerous sectors of the community to tighten legislation and even ban surrogacy.

So to pre-empt those who say we shouldn’t discuss this issue or the adults involved in Gammy’s conception, it’s too late. That ship sailed six months ago.

Wherever they are, whatever they’re thinking tonight, I hope that Gammy’s parents can read this incredible message from the mother of a child just like Gammy…

Hope for Gammy was set up to help this young baby receive the care and medical treatment he desperately needs. To donate to the fund, click here. So far over $190,00 has been raised.

Want to read more about Gammy? Try these:

News: Gammy’s father never looked at him.

To the Australian couple who abandoned their son with Down syndrome. 

The surrogate child an Australian couple didn’t want.

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