Posted: Aug 5, 2014 1:41 AM
Updated: Aug 5, 2014 1:41 AM
SRI RACHA, Thailand (AP) A Thai surrogate mother left with a Down syndrome baby who was abandoned by his Australian biological parents said Tuesday she would be happy to have the baby's healthy twin returned, especially because of concern over reports the father is a convicted sex offender.
Pattaramon Chanbua, a 21-year-old food vendor who has two young children of her own, has been bringing up baby boy Gammy as her own since he was born in December.
She said the father rejected Gammy, while taking his healthy twin sister home to Western Australia state.
Australia's Nine Network television reported Tuesday that the father was a convicted pedophile. A police officer told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak to the media, that the father was a convicted sex offender.
The case has caused intense public interest in Thailand and Australia, and Pattaramon made her views known at a news conference in her hometown. While she had previously said she was happy to have the twin girl stay with the Australian parents, the reports about the father's past have raised doubts in her mind.
"Personally, when I heard the news I was shocked but I can't say anything much right now," she said, adding that she would "leave it to the law" to see if she can get the girl back. The process appeared to have been carried out legally under contract in Thailand and Western Australia, though other states in Australia do not allow it.
Surrogacy involves a woman carrying the implanted embryo, or fertilized egg, of another woman in her womb in order to give birth, often because health issues make it impossible for the biological mother to do so. Legal doctrine on the rights of all parties involved is inconsistent and still evolving, especially when different nationalities are involved.
Countries such as India, Ukraine and Thailand have fairly lenient regulations and are popular for couples in developed countries looking for lower-cost surrogate mothers.
Pattaramon expressed sentimental attachment to the child, saying: "I want her back because she is my baby. She was in my womb."
However, she said she was inclined to leave the resolution of the issue up to "fate" and what was best for the baby girl.
"If she is happy, then I, as a mother, am also happy. I don't want to bring her back to suffer or anything. A mother would never want her child in trouble," she said. "But if she really cannot go on living there, then I'm very happy to have her back in my arms."
She said she will never hand over to the Australian couple seven-month-old Gammy, who was born with a congenital heart condition as well as Down Syndrome: "Never. Not in any way."
The case had already caused a stir because of the idea that the Australian couple had abdicated their responsibility by not taking home both children. They have not come out publicly to speak about the case, though the Australian broadcaster, ABC, reported that Gammy's biological father has denied intentionally abandoning his son in Thailand, saying he did not know that his daughter had a twin.
Pattaramon has said she did not receive the full payment she was promised for serving as a surrogate mother.
An online campaign by the Australian charity organization Hands Across the Water to help Gammy has raised more than $215,000 since July 22.
Associated Press writer Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia contributed to this report.