Since January, Gordon Lake and his husband, Manuel Santos Valero, have been afraid to leave their apartment in Bangkok out of fear their daughter, Carmen, will be stolen from them.
“I don’t take her to any meetings with me any more,” Lake tells the Bangkok Post, “and every time I have to go to a meeting myself, I take the long way home just to make sure I’m not being followed. We’re really worried.”
Carmen was born via surrogate six month ago. Lake says he had a good relationship with the birth mother leading up to the birth. He visited her regularly and even brought her flowers in the hospital. The day she signed the release allowing him to take Carmen home, he believed everything was fine.’
Then 10 days later, he and Valero received a text message saying the birth mother, who has absolutely no biological ties to the child, no longer “agreed” and was refusing to sign over custody.
“She made it clear that she thought she was doing this for an ‘ordinary couple,’ and she said she was fine with doing it for an ‘ordinary couple.’ And we weren’t an ordinary couple,” Lake says.
She also argued that she believed that the baby was actually hers.
“But it was a frozen [egg] transfer, so it’s absolutely impossible,” Lake says.
Since the law automatically grants custody to the birth mother, Lake and Valero say they are constantly worried about receiving a knock on their door demanding their daughter be handed over. In fact, they’ve already had one very close call.
“On one occasion, she [the surrogate mother] came to the building where we had been living until a few days prior, and asked for Carmen to be brought down,” Lake says.
According to neighbors, she waited outside for eight hours before leaving with a group of other people who had been hiding nearby.
So far, the birth mother is keeping her identity secret, but she’s told local media that she’s determined to win this fight.
“The bond I have with my baby can’t be traded for money and I am not going to sell my daughter,” she said.
She has already been paid U.S. $9,250. A final payment of $5,100 is owed once she signs the documents at the U.S. embassy relinquishing parental rights, which may or may not happen. But Lake and Valero say they are trying to keep a positive attitude about it all.
“It’s one foot in front of the other,” Lake says, “but we have to think of the endgame, of our family back home together.”
h/t: Bangkok Post