Up to 10 surrogacy-born babies with Australian biological parents are stuck in legal limbo in Cambodia after a crackdown on commercial surrogacy there last year.
Surrogacy experts believe about 50 more babies carried by mostly Cambodian surrogate mothers for Australians are yet to be born.
Some of the Australian couples have been waiting for up to three months to take their babies home, creating financial and family hardships while staying with their babies in the capital, Phnom Penh.
"They are pretty desperate," Sam Everingham, the global director of Australian consultancy Families Through Surrogacy, said.
The Cambodian government is refusing to issue exit visas for all surrogacy cases where the newborn babies have a foreign passport, in a developing human crisis in the country.
Chou Bun Eng, Cambodia's Secretary of State at the Interior Ministry, warned last December that if intending Australian parents failed to present themselves to Cambodian authorities the government would not facilitate them bringing their babies to Australia.
"We want to ensure that promises made to surrogate mothers are fulfilled ... that the contract is completed," she said.
Few if any of the parents have come forward. Cambodian authorities declared last October that commercial surrogacy constituted human trafficking pending the passing of a law yet to be drafted that deals with the practice.
They arrested Australian surrogacy broker Tammy Davis-Charles, whose company Fertility Solutions PGD allegedly signed at least 25 surrogacy agreements in the country, most of them with Australian biological parents who paid US$50,000 ($65,172) per baby.
Mr Everingham said some of the surrogate mothers still carrying babies for Australians have relocated to neighbouring Thailand for the duration of their pregnancies.
The Australian embassy in Bangkok is still processing visas for Australian babies born through surrogacy babies after Thailand's military government put in place interim rules following a crackdown on commercial surrogacy in that country in 2014.
Similar rules were also introduced after commercial surrogacy was shut down in India and Nepal.
But Mr Everingham said it has been particularly difficult for surrogate mothers who entered into agreements with Ms Davis-Charles' company because she is in jail, with her Cambodian bank accounts frozen.
Some surrogate mothers who have entered into agreements with Ms Davis-Charles have been summoned to her trial but none has appeared. Following the crackdown, scores of surrogate mothers went into hiding, fearing arrest, despite government assurances they were not being targeted. This left them without regular payments and scheduled health checks.
Ms Davis-Charles has pleaded not guilty under a penal code that prohibits acting as an intermediary between adoptive parents and a pregnant woman and possession of fraudulent documents.
She faces up to two years in jail if convicted.
Mr Everingham said the Cambodian government needed to urgently put in place interim arrangements to allow the safe passage home of the newborn babies.
"More importantly, Australian state governments need to urgently meet with consumer groups such as Surrogacy Australia, to work on increasing access to surrogacy at home," Mr Everingham said.
Cambodian government agencies are drafting a law dealing with surrogacy with consultation from the United Nations.