Thai surrogate baby Gammy: Australian parents 'wanted him'

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Media captionDavid Farnell: "We wanted to bring him with us"

The Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby born with Down's syndrome to a Thai surrogate mother say they wanted to take him home.

David and Wendy Farnell, speaking publicly for the first time, insisted the Thai mother would not hand over Gammy, now seven months old.

The couple, who took Gammy's twin sister, say they want to get him back.

The surrogate mother originally said the couple deliberately left Gammy behind because of his disabilities.

But in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, Pattharamon Chanbua, 21, appeared to backtrack, saying: "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."

In an emotional interview on Australia's Channel Nine on Sunday, David Farnell said: "We did not abandon our son.

"(Pattharamon) 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."

He added: "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."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption An online campaign has raised tens of thousands of pounds to help Pattharamon Chanbua with Gammy's medical expenses.

The case took an even darker twist when it emerged that David Farnell had been convicted in the 1990s of multiple sex offences against young girls.

He insisted on Sunday that his daughter, Pipah, was not at risk of harm from him.

"I will do everything in the world to protect my little girl," he said.

"I have no inclination of doing anything like this. I don't have any thoughts about this at all. That is the 100% truth. I cannot do this again."

Officials say they have contacted the couple, but have no major concerns at present.

'Anger at agency'

Pattharamon Chanbua, who has two other children, said the couple had asked her to have an abortion when she was told of the baby boy's condition four months after becoming pregnant.

She said she refused, as it was against her Buddhist beliefs. Abortion on the grounds of foetal impairment is illegal in Thailand.

David Farnell denied asking the mother to have an abortion but said they were angry that the surrogacy agency had not conducted tests earlier because by the time they found out about the baby's condition, it was too late in the pregnancy to abort the foetus.

Had they known earlier, he said, they probably would have terminated the pregnancy.

"I don't think any parent wants a son with a disability," he said. "Parents want their children to be healthy and happy."

David Farnell said that was when Pattharamon Chanbua offered to keep Gammy.

"We were thinking, oh, maybe this might be OK," he said.

But when the babies were born, he added, he and his wife realised they wanted to keep both.

He said the surrogate mother then insisted she be allowed to keep Gammy, and threatened to keep Pipah as well.

Besides Down's syndrome, Gammy has a congenital heart condition and a lung infection.

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