After allegedly being scammed in a surrogacy deal by their Mexican adoption agency, a gay couple is appealing to immigration authorities to help them return to their home in Auckland, New Zealand with their three newborn babies, the New Zealand Herald reports.

A prominent lawyer with LegalStreet, David Beard, 41, is the biological dad by arrangement with an Argentinian egg donor. His husband is Nicky Leonard Beard, 32, originally from Ireland. The new additions to their family, Lachlan, Kelly, and Blake, were born last month to two surrogate mothers in Villahermosa, Tabasco in Mexico.

“Triplings” describes three children born from one egg donor and one sperm donor though they are carried by different surrogates. A surrogate is a woman who has a fertilized egg (embryo) that is not her own implanted in her womb and then she bears the child for others.

Only recently, Mexico banned international surrogacy, however the Beards said government officials guaranteed them no problems because the surrogates were already pregnant when the law went into effect.

According to Donna Dickenson, emeritus professor at University of London, international trade in babies born through commercial surrogacy has begun to slowly shut down. Recently, she reports, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Mexico have introduced measures to limit or ban foreigners from hiring locals as surrogate mothers, while Cambodia and Malaysia are likely to follow suit in short order.

Although financial figures for Mexico are not available, India’s surrogacy industry, comprised of 3,000 fertility clinics, is valued at $400 million per year, according to Dickenson. Authorities there have not yet finalized anti-surrogacy legislation, but are clearly highlighting ethical concerns over economic benefits.

Anti-surrogacy advocates emphasize the need to prevent the exploitation of vulnerable women.

Cancun Scam

The Beards claim their situation became complicated when a Cancun adoption agency allegedly took off with all the money provided for medical and hospital bills, legal costs, and care costs for the surrogates, reports As a result, the couple had to pay all the birthing fees again along with the after care for the surrogate mothers. One of the babies was born premature and required additional hospitalization, costing the couple an additional $118,132 according to Stuff. Other costs include DNA tests and travel to the capital to obtain passports for the three babies.

Now in debt, the couple is asking for help from friends and family, while requesting the New Zealand and Mexican Governments to cut through red tape and allow the family to travel back home. They also hope immigration authorities and their embassy in Mexico City will intervene and issue New Zealand passports to the children, rather than forcing them to wait for Mexican passports.

On Sunday, Grace Nixon, a friend of the couple, set up a fundraising page on Givealittle, a crowdfunding site for New Zealanders. She claims the clinic that delivered their premature baby “held them ransom by not letting the ambulance leave until they paid them more money. Their baby then had to spend 2 weeks in specialist care…Thankfully he has made a full recovery and is now with his parents, his brother and sister.”

As of Wednesday, $28,566 had been donated by 707 people.

A spokesperson told New Zealand Herald the New Zealand Government was aware of the case and had provided the Beards with this advice: international surrogacy is a dangerous business with legal risks involved.