David and Wendy Farnell are being called the most hated couple in Australia, a title they would’ve never expected after their decision to have a baby through a surrogate mother in Thailand. Over a million people tuned in to 60 Minutes on Australia’s Nine Network on Sunday night to watch the Australian couple accused of abandoning their baby son Gammy with his surrogate mother because he was born with Down syndrome.
Their 21-year-old surrogate, Pattaramon Chanbua, had given birth to twins in December 2013. The Australian parents took their daughter Pipah, who was born without cognitive or physical impairments, back home with them and left Gammy with the surrogate mother, who they claim refused to let them bring him home. "[Chanbua] said that if we tried to take our little boy, she's going to get the police and she's going to try and take our little girl and she's going to keep both of the babies," David said in the interview. "We did not abandon our son.”
It’s not far from the truth because Chanbua admitted to keeping the baby boy from them based on a fear. "I did not allow Gammy to go back with them — that's the truth. It is because they would have taken Gammy back and put him in an institute," Chanbua said in an interview with the BBC. It’s important to understand both parties explained there was a communication problem because of their language barrier, which could be blamed on the surrogacy agency they worked through.
When they agreed on the surrogacy, Chanbua needed money to support her family of two children and a husband who works alongside her in a Thai factory. When the doctors told her and the Farnells seven months into the pregnancy that one of the babies has Down syndrome but they weren’t sure of the severity, the Farnells asked for a refund but claim they said they still wanted Gammy regardless of his diagnosis.
"I don't think any parent wants a son with a disability," David said. "Parents want their children to be healthy and happy." When the surrogate mother said she wanted to keep Gammy, they contemplated taking her up on the offer. However, when the babies were born, David said he and his wife decided they wanted to keep both twins.
"The surrogate mother — it is her choice if she wants to give you the baby or not give you the baby. Although you have a surrogacy agreement, it really doesn't mean anything. It is her decision, and our surrogate mother said that she wanted to keep the baby boy," David said to reporter Tara Brown during the interview. Brown also confronted the 56-year-old father on the multiple convictions he had racked up from the 1990s on sex offenses against young girls.
He fervently responded his newborn daughter was safe in his care while officials investigate. "I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl," David said. "I have no inclination of doing anything like this. I don't have any thoughts about this at all. That is the 100 percent truth. I cannot do this again."