We have chronicled a number of situations where babies delivered by surrogates were denied visas and unable to return home with their parents to Germany, Iceland, Iceland, France and Israel. However, this case involving a married gay couple from Belgiium might be the most tragic yet as their child was stranded in an orphanage for more than 2 years and their friend jailed:
Meet Peter and Laurent. They’re a married gay Belgian couple with a 2.5-year-old son Samuel, who’s been trapped in a Ukrainian orphanage. How come? Because Belgium bans surrogacy, so the couple used Laurent’s sperm and a Ukranian surrogate mother to have their son. Except when the dads tried to bring their new son home, they ran into Belgian red tape out the whaz.
The surrogacy cost $35,000. The legal fight to bring their child home? $118,000. And here they are more than two years later, unable to raise their own son.
Why not go the adoption route? They did, at first. But while it’s legal for gays to adopt in Belgium, they say it rarely happens. So they found a surrogacy agency in Belgium, paid to have Laurent’s sperm implanted, and on Nov. 24, 2008, Samuel was born. When they tried to take him home, by getting Samuel a Belgian passport at the consulate, is where they first ran into trouble. They were refused. Forced to return to their jobs in Belgium, they leave their newborn with a foster family in Ukraine — which, after a year, threatened to put him up for adoption anonymously. So the couple raced to Ukraine, and took their child back. Arranging with a female friend to transport Samuel across the Polish border, she was arrested on child trafficking and kidnapping charges. They got their friend out of jail; Samuel was left in an orphanage.
Is there any hope? Supposedly, yes. As of today, this video’s YouTube description reports: “Samuel is no longer ‘trapped’ in the orphanage, and Peter and Laurent will apply for a tourist visa at the local Belgian consulate. … Sadly, their experience taught them that it probably will not succeed, but they will try all possible options.”
So while Peter and Laurent finally have custody of their child, they are no closer to taking Samuel home. The hardship on this family is unimaginable and they are not alone.
Yet again, this highlights the need to speak to an independent attorney regarding the legality of the arrangement and any potential immigration issues before proceeding with an international surrogacy arrangement. As more people turn to places like India and Ukraine, cases like this will only multiply as countries will ban entry into the country because of underlying concerns about industry practices, exploitation of surrogates as well as their own opposition to surrogacy. By denying these babies a way to return home, they can effectively prevent their citizens from traveling abroad to engage in conduct prohibited at home. Exacerbating matters further is that under Indian law, children born by a surrogate are not Indian citizens — effectively leaving these babies stateless.