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Thai surrogates battle for babies birthed for Japanese millionaire

19 January 2015
Appeared in BioNews 786

The surrogate mothers of nine of the babies fathered by a Japanese man and taken into care by the Thai authorities (see BioNews 768) have filed for custody of the children.

Some sources report that the father, 24 year-old Mitsutoki Shigeta, also launched legal proceedings demanding the babies' release. The Bangkok Post, however, reports this as a 'mistaken' announcement from Thai Social Development and Human Security Ministry permanent secretary Vichien Chavalit.

Chavalit subsequently said that 'it is actually the Thai mothers who have filed the suit with the Central Juvenile and Family Court', the newspaper says.

Suwanna Pinkaew, director of the Women and Child Welfare Protection Bureau, which is currently taking care of the children, has confirmed that six of the surrogate mothers, three of whom gave birth to twins, are seeking custody.

Their lawsuit alleges that the Thai authorities are failing to care for the children adequately, according to the AFP news agency. Something which Pinkaew, speaking to The Bangkok Post, refutes.

'Every child being cared for at the babies' home is receiving quality childcare and their development has greatly improved. The mothers are not prohibited from seeing their babies but must follow the home’s regulations,' she said.

As to custody, Pinkaew says: 'After the requests were received, we have initiated and are in the process of evaluating the circumstances and the women's readiness before making a decision.'

The peculiar case came to light last year when police raided an apartment in Bangkok and discovered between nine and thirteen babies (reports vary) living in a few unfurnished rooms and being cared for by nannies. The surrogates had allegedly been paid US $12,500 each.

Sky News Australia reports that Shigeta 'fled' Thailand following investigations related to the legitimacy of the surrogacy arrangements.

The broadcaster adds that he told Mariam Kukunashvili of surrogacy agency New Life Global Network: 'The best thing I can do for the world is to leave many children.' He had apparently hoped to father between 100 and 1,000 babies. There is no suggestion that New Life Global Network was in any way involved with Shigeta's arrangements.

Sam Everingham of the Australian non-profit organisation Families Through Surrogacy told Voice of America that Shigeta's case is 'a pretty appalling example of abuse of international surrogacy by foreigners. And it's one of the reasons which led to the acceleration of the closure of access to surrogacy in Thailand by foreigners.'

The interim parliament of Thailand approved a ban on commercial surrogacy late last year (reported in BioNews 782).

Man sues Thailand over surrogate babies
Sky News |  14 January 2015
Surrogate 'dad' wants babies back
Bangkok Post |  14 January 2015
Surrogate moms sue Thai ministry for custody of 13 children
Yahoo! News (Associated Press) |  14 January 2015
Surrogate mums sue ministry
Bangkok Post |  15 January 2015
Thailand Defends Care for Children in Controversial Surrogacy Case
Voice of America |  15 January 2015
Thai surrogate mothers seek custody of babies
The Nation (AFP) |  14 January 2015
Thai surrogates, Japanese dad try to reclaim babies
Japan Times |  15 January 2015
16 May 2016 - by Ryan Ross 
A same-sex couple have won a custody battle in Thailand against their surrogate after she allegedly refused to allow them to leave the country with their baby because they were not 'an ordinary couple'...
3 August 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
Two women in Japan have received eggs from donors who are strangers – the first time this has happened in the country, following approval by an ethics committee earlier this year...
5 May 2015 - by Kirsty Oswald 
Israel has evacuated a number of babies born to Israeli parents and surrogate mothers in Nepal, in the wake of the earthquake which killed at least 7500 people...
23 February 2015 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Thailand's parliament has passed a law banning surrogacy for foreign couples, after two scandals sparked worldwide attention last year...
1 December 2014 - by Jenny Sharpe 
Thailand's interim parliament has voted in support of a law to ban its largely unregulated surrogacy trade.
1 September 2014 - by Rebecca Carr 
Thailand's military junta has pledged a transitional period of leniency in cases of babies born to surrogate mothers, as it prepares to tighten its laws on the country's surrogacy industry....
26 August 2014 - by Jessica Ware 
A Japanese businessman may have fathered up to 15 children using Thai surrogates, 12 of whom remain in Thailand....
18 August 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
Thailand's Government has approved a draft law intended to make commercial surrogacy a criminal offence, leaving foreign couples reportedly unable to take their surrogate-born children out of the country....
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