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.
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.