The Thai mother at the centre of a surrogacy scandal is shocked at revelations the West Australian father of the twin children she bore was previously jailed for child sex offences and now says she wants the girl back.
The man, believed to be the father of baby Gammy, previously abused at least three girls under the age of 13, court documents show.
He and his wife, who returned to Australia with the girl, and are accused of leaving Gammy behind in Thailand after he was diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Gammy is being cared for by the Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua, 21, who has children of her own.
Ms Pattaramon says she refused the couple’s request for her to abort the boy in the womb and has brought him up as her own since he was born in December.
But an unnamed family friend says the allegations are false and the couple was “heartbroken” to leave Gammy behind.
The friend, speaking on behalf of the couple, said the birth was supposed to happen at a major international hospital in Thailand.
But Ms Pattaramon went to a smaller hospital, which allegedly made the surrogacy agreement void and gave the biological parents no legal rights to their children.
The babies were born two months premature, but the couple say they weren’t told Gammy had Down syndrome, only that he had a congenital heart condition, the friend told the Bunbury Mail.
She said the parents had not requested an abortion and never wanted to give him up.
The friend’s comments contradict previous reports that the couple did not know about Gammy.
“Gammy was very sick when he was born and the biological parents were told he would not survive and he had a day, at best, to live and to say goodbye,” she said.
The couple then became embroiled in a legal battle to bring home Gammy’s twin sister while Thailand was in military lockdown.
“The biological parents were heartbroken that they couldn’t take their boy with them and never wanted to give him up, but to stay would risk them losing their daughter also,” the friend said.
Court documents show the man was jailed in the late 1990s for sexually molesting two girls under the age of 10 and was sentenced to three years behind bars.
While serving time, he was charged with six counts of indecently dealing with a child under the age of 13 and convicted and sentenced again.
His wife has confirmed her husband had a conviction but she believes he is a good man.
“If the father is an offender I want my daughter back,” Ms Pattaramon told Seven Network on Tuesday.
WA Department for Child Protection acting director-general Emma White said the department was assessing the girl’s wellbeing.
The federal government is formulating its response, amid calls for an overhaul of surrogacy laws in Australia.
“The one shining light to come from this most unfortunate, deeply regrettable situation is there appears to have been an absolute outpouring of generosity towards baby Gammy,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
An online fundraising campaign for Gammy has so far raised more than $231,000 in 14 days.