By 3 News online staff
The Australian couple at the centre of a surrogacy row have denied abandoning their son after learning he had Down syndrome.
Baby Gammy's Thai surrogate mother has accused the boy's biological parents of leaving her with the infant while taking his healthy twin sister back with them to Australia.
"We did not abandon our son," an emotional David Farnell told Australia's 60 Minutes programme.
He said the surrogate, 21-year-old food vendor Pattaramon Chanbua, threatened to go to the police if Farnell and his wife Wendy took the baby boy home.
Chanbua, who has two other children, admitted to the Associated Press that she didn't want Gammy to go back to Australia for fear the Farnells would put him in an institution.
The Farnells are furious with the Thai surrogacy agency for not letting them know Gammy had Down syndrome until it was too late to abort the foetus.
"I don't think any parent wants a son with a disability," Farnell said. "Parents want their children to be healthy and happy."
Farnell says they were initially happy when Chanbua offered to keep Gammy, but when the twins were born they changed their minds and wanted to take them both.
Chanbua allegedly insisted she be allowed keep Gammy and threatened to keep Pipah as well.
The Farnells say they only left Thailand without Gammy because their visas were running out. They didn't apply for an extension because they wanted to get Pipah back to Western Australia, away from Chanbua.
They planned to get their son back by going through Australian authorities – but have made no moves to do so in the six months they have been home. Farnell says this is because they are still afraid Chanbua will try and take Pipah back.
Thai authorities are considering legal action against Chanbua for profiting from surrogacy.
The case has put a spotlight on Thailand's largely unregulated surrogacy industry. It became even murkier when it was revealed that David Farnell has convictions for sex offences against young girls in the 1990s.
Farnell insisted his daughter, Pipah, is not at risk.
"There is no reason to be concerned. I'm not going to harm my little girl," he said.
More than AU$240,000 has been raised so far for Gammy's ongoing medical care. As well as Down syndrome, he has heart and lung conditions.
source: newshub archive