Baby Gammy story takes startling turn as extreme options revealed


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 17/09/2014

Reporter: Samantha Hawley

Baby Gammy's story has taken a startling turn with revelations of the extreme measures considered to deal with the unwanted baby boy born with Down syndrome to a Thai woman for an Australian couple.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Since last month, Australians have been shocked and moved by the story of Gammy, the baby boy with Down syndrome left behind by his Australian parents in Bangkok.

More than $250,000 has been donated into a fund to help Gammy, although how that money will be spent is still being worked out.

Tonight the story has taken a new turn. 7.30 has learnt of the extreme measures considered to get rid of the unwanted baby boy.

Sam Hawley has this exclusive report.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY, REPORTER: Goy and Gammy - a surrogate mother and a baby boy who’s now eight months old.

Left behind by his Australian parents, Gammy’s come to epitomise all that’s wrong with Thailand’s commercial surrogacy industry.

GOY, SURROGATE MOTHER (voiceover translation): I never regret and I never blame him. I only thank the destiny that brought us together.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But this is much more than a story of destiny. A 7.30 investigation reveals even darker dealings surrounding this baby.

As 7.30 revealed last month, Gammy’s biological father is convicted paedophile David Farnell. Unable to have children of their own, he and his wife Wendy used the services of American man Antonio Frattaroli, the owner and CEO of Thailand Surrogacy.

He’s seen here enjoying a jet ski ride with his wife in the Thailand resort town of Pattaya.

Antonio Frattaroli went to ground when the story of baby Gammy was exposed.

But 7.30 can reveal more claims of a frenzied scramble to offload the disabled boy from his Australian parents, including an offer to Another Australian couple to take him.

Kim and Brendan Cross have spent two years as clients of the Thai surrogacy industry.

Now in Bangkok, they’re proud parents of four week old Braxton, born via a Thai surrogate and egg donor. They’re waiting for his Australian passport to be approved so they can go home.

KIM CROSS: We're over the moon. Absolutely - couldn’t be happier. He's just our pride and joy. He's beautiful, he’s perfect, he's everything we wanted.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But it’s been a rollercoaster ride for this country Victorian couple who were desperate for a baby. For five years they unsuccessfully tried IVF in Australia and Kim’s history of breast cancer ruled out adoption. They turned to Thailand surrogacy; Antonio Frattoroli’s agency.

KIM CROSS: Contacted probably at least a dozen agencies over here before we went with this one because this one was - well, it had an American owner, which we thought we’d be safe with, and it said clearly on their website that their doctors had been - some of their doctors had been trained through Sydney IVF.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: For two years, Kim and Brendan tried again and again to conceive via surrogacy. Then, in November last year, came an extraordinary offer. An email sent from an agent working for Thailand Surrogacy shows they were asked if they wanted a Down syndrome boy, who we now know was Gammy.

KIM CROSS: And the actual email asked us if we wanted the baby ourselves. My assumption of why I was asked or why we were asked is because of the fact that we had been through this clinic for two years and without a successful pregnancy and maybe they thought this was an easy option for us to take this child instead of continuing on our path to have our own biological child. That’s just my opinion. But of course we can’t accept someone else's child.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Did you see it as a genuine offer to have the baby?

KIM CROSS: We did actually see it as a genuine offer to have the baby, yes.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And what did you think about that when you heard that story?

KIM CROSS: Mortified, could not believe that someone would go through a process like this and give birth to a beautiful baby boy, regardless of whether he had Down syndrome or not, he is their flesh and blood.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But 7.30 understands the offer to give baby Gammy away to the Cross family was just one of several proposals as they tried to figure out what to do with the baby.

For the first time, this former Thai colleague of Antonio Frattaroli is speaking out, but she wants her identity protected. We’ll call her "Isla". She says when David Farnell was told the boy twin had Down syndrome, he wanted the child aborted. Mr Farnell has previously denied that claim.

'ISLA', FMR EMPLOYEE, THAILAND SURROGACY (voiceover translation): He did not want the baby, he just wanted to do anything so he would not have to have that baby.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And he knew that there were discussing abortion?

'ISLA' (voiceover translation): He knew, he knew, because when something went wrong, he must be informed.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: We know now that Gammy’s surrogate mother, Goy, refused to abort, she says, at about 27 weeks.

'Isla' claims David Farnell also put forward another extraordinary alternative to the agency: taking the healthy girl home to Australia, but abandoning her twin brother outside a temple in Bangkok.

'ISLA' (voiceover translation): He said, "There's a normal one. Can I take the normal one? Can you leave the abnormal one at the temple? Can you leave him in Bangkok? No-one will know about this.” Something like that, he suggested.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: What did they say? What was the response to that?

'ISLA' (voiceover translation): They said they could not do that. How could he leave him like that? He's not Thai either. He said he was not Thai, he could not do it.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: 7.30 has obtained an email from Mr Frattaroli backing up this version of events.

ANTONIO FRATTAROLI, CEO, THAILAND SURROGACY (male voiceover): "Those Australian people are so bad. They beg me to drop baby Gammy at the temple at night and run away. They told me don’t worry, Antonio, the monk will take care of the baby. These are very ugly people.”

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Antonnio Frattaroli goes on to detail a telephone conversation between his Chinese wife, Amber, and Wendy Farnell, who's also Chinese.

ANTONIO FRATTAROLI (male voiceover): "Amber yelled at his wife in Chinese. She told him we cannot do abortion or drop your baby at the temple at night-time. Amber told them they must take responsibility for their baby, but she beg Amber to get rid of the baby.”

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: 7.30 sought a response from David Farnell. He denied ever asking the child be left at a temple in Thailand.

7.30 also contacted Antonio Frattaroli. By telephone from his home in California, he claims while the Farnell’s had requested abortion, Thailand Surrogacy refused, saying it would not be involved in killing babies.

Mr Frattaroli denies any knowledge of the child being offered to the Australian couple and says he was shocked to hear it.

In the end, Kim and Brendan Cross have succeeded in their dream to have a baby.

The military crackdown on commercial surrogacy in Thailand has slowed the journey, but this morning the Cross family sailed through Customs and are now homeward bound.

But in Thailand, the legacy of a broken system remains.

GOY (voiceover TRANSLATION): I'm not worried about Gammy’s future because he has a foundation to take care of him. I don’t have expectations about what he will be. He can choose what he wants to be. He doesn't have to be so talented; being a good person is enough.

LEIGH SALES: Sam Hawley reporting from Bangkok.
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