Colombia court allows lesbian adoption, AUgust 29, 2014

Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a lesbian woman could adopt her long-time partner’s daughter, though the ruling does not apply to gay adoption in all circumstances.

Ana Leiderman appealed to the court to let her partner, Veronica Botero, adopt her biological daughter after the Colombian Family Well-being Institute rejected Botero’s adoption application.

With six votes for and three abstentions, the court ruled that Leiderman, who underwent artificial insemination to conceive her daughter and raised her together with Botero, had the right to request an adoption by her partner regardless of sex.

“The court considered that the discriminatory criterion the administrative authority had used to deny the adoption procedure… was unacceptable in this case, which involves a consensual adoption in which the biological father or mother consents to an adoption by his or her permanent partner,” said chief justice Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva.

The ruling sets a precedent for all similar cases in the South American country, but will not apply to gay couples seeking to adopt if neither person is the child’s biological parent.

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In Thailand’s Surrogacy Industry, Profit and a Moral Quagmire

New York Times – August 26, 2014 by Thomas Fuller

PAK OK, Thailand — Soon after the first surrogate mother from this remote village gave birth, neighbors noticed her new car and conspicuous home renovations, sending ripples of envy through the wooden houses beside rice paddies and tamarind groves.

“There was a lot of excitement, and many people were jealous,” said Thongchan Inchan, 50, a shopkeeper here.

In the two years since, carrying babies for foreigners, mainly couples from wealthier Asian nations, quickly became a lucrative cottage industry in the farming communities around Pak Ok, a six-hour drive from Bangkok. Officials say at least 24 women out of a population of about 13,000 people have since become paid surrogate mothers.

“If I weren’t this old, maybe I would have done it myself,” Ms. Thongchan said. “This is a poor village. We make money by day and it’s gone by evening.”

The baby boomlet here was just one of several bizarre and often ethically charged iterations of Thailand’s freewheeling venture into what detractors call the womb rental business, an unguided experiment that the country’s military government now says it is planning to end.

Commercial surrogacy has been available for at least a decade in Thailand, one of only a handful of countries where it is allowed, and one of only two in Asia, making it a prime destination for couples in the region from countries where the practice is banned.

Officials estimate that there are several hundred surrogate births here each year, a number that does not include foreign surrogates, including many hired by Chinese couples, who come to Thailand for the embryo implantation then return home to carry out the pregnancy.

But a pair of recent scandals have focused scrutiny on the largely unregulated industry, raising ethical questions and prompting the government’s crackdown.

In late July, the Thai news media reported that an Australian couple who had paid a woman to carry twins returned home with only one of their children, leaving behind the other, who had Down syndrome. Pleas for assistance by the surrogate mother helped produce a sustained national outcry that was further stoked by comments by the boy’s biological father that were deemed insensitive at best.

The father, David John Farnell, told an Australian television program that he would have preferred that the pregnancy had been terminated. “I don’t think any parent wants a son with a disability,” he said.

He also said that he and his wife had told the agency in Bangkok that served as an intermediary to “give us back our money.”

The Australian news media raised questions about his fitness as a father after finding court records showing that he was convicted and imprisoned for 22 counts of child sex abuse in the 1990s.

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China Experiences a Booming Underground Market in Child Surrogacy

New York Times – August 2, 2014 – by Ian Johnson

The rise of surrogacy is often linked to the increase in wealthier, better-educated Chinese couples waiting until their late 30s to start a family, a trend that makes it harder to conceive. Some academics say China’s severe air, water and soil pollution contribute to increasing infertility, though that claim has not been scientifically demonstrated.

Regardless, failure to reproduce is less of an option than it is in the West. Tradition holds that couples must have a child. A folk proverb warns that “among the three unfilial deeds, having no offspring is the worst.” Some women think they must have a child or their husbands will divorce them. Some couples seeking surrogacy have sadder stories, sometimes hoping to replace only children who have died.

China’s unregulated market, with a network of roughly 1,000 baby brokers nationwide, often results in trouble.

One woman who asked to be identified only by her family name, Zuo, said a friend put her in touch with a woman from the countryside who had already given birth and needed more income. Another friend recommended a private clinic in Beijing that would conduct the embryo implantation and follow-up treatments; a surrogate mother requires months of hormone shots to prepare her body for the implanted embryo and prevent its rejection.