A gay family from Florida finds itself in a horrible predicament that should concern couples of all stripes who have turned to surrogacy to create their families. Gordan Lake and his husband connected with a surrogacy agency in Thailand, and on January 17, their dream of fatherhood came true when a Thai surrogate gave birth to their daughter Carmen.
According to reporter Mel Spencer, who broke the story for Gay Star News, that dream of fatherhood soon became a nightmare of red tape and legalized discrimination after the surrogate discovered that Lake’s spouse is a man. Uncomfortable with two men raising the baby, the surrogate withdrew her commitment to the arrangement, refusing to sign any papers after Carmen’s birth.
Thailand’s laws do provide some protections for intended parents but only if those parents are “husband and wife,” a gender-specific requirement that left Lake and his daughter in the lurch, without a clear path to return home to the U.S.
As Lake explains in the GSN article:
“In principle the provision is written to do the right thing and give parental rights to [intended] parents, but since it says ‘husband and wife’ we don’t know how [the Thai courts] will rule given we are ‘husband and husband.’
“We will be forced to go through this court procedure, facing another year and half in Thailand, with complete uncertainty of how [the statute] will be interpreted.”
In order to cover the mounting costs of legal proceedings, and accommodation in Thailand, the couple are appealing for donations, but they also hope to change the phrasing in the new Thai law so it does not only include “husband” and “wife.”
As things stand, [Lake] says the U.S. embassy is unable to take any further action, so he and his husband are campaigning to get Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on their side in order to help speed the decision-making process along.
“We are involving Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama because we think they will be sympathetic to our call and be able to reason with the right people to be able to initiate this engagement with the Thai authorities,” [Lake] said.
“Carmen is an American citizen, and she should be protected by the U.S.”
Lake’s horrific predicament should serve as a warning to all couples seeking to expand their families through surrogacy. First, couples should know that surrogacy arrangements abroad can present unexpected challenges, especially in nations where opposition to surrogacy and opposition to gay rights run high. Second, you can protect your family by working with experts that — like our firm, Vorzimer Masserman — bring to the table a comprehensive knowledge of the surrogacy laws in the surrogate mother’s home state.
Laws on surrogacy vary wildly from state to state and from nation to nation, and if you’re not working with experts who know those laws, your dream of parenthood could quickly become the nightmare that the Lake family is now facing.