Australian couple abandon baby born to surrogate in India

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 Photo: Getty Images

In what seems to be becoming a tragically recurring theme, an Australian baby born to a surrogate mother in India has been abandoned by his biological parents. His twin sister was taken back to Australia.

Their rationale? They couldn't afford twins, regardless of the fact that their abandonment potentially rendered the newborn stateless.

Samantha Hawley of ABC's Foreign Correspondent devoted this week's episode to finding 'Baby X', a trying task in a country of over one billion.

Samantha Hawley travelled to India in pursuit of 'Baby X', who was abandoned at birth.
Samantha Hawley travelled to India in pursuit of 'Baby X', who was abandoned at birth. Photo: ABC

"We team up with experts in child trafficking and go on an 11-day search to find the now three-year-old boy, because there was great concern from senior judicial officials about his welfare," she said.

Since commercial surrogacy is illegal in Australia, desperate couples commonly look further afield to fulfil their pregnancy desires. Yet, as the case of Baby X shows, the consequences of dabbling in this unregulated industry can be dire.

This isn't the first time international commercial surrogacy has courted controversy. Just last year, Down syndrome-affected baby Gammy was left in Thailand while his twin sister travelled safely home to Australia.

Baby X's parents have stood by their decision to leave him in India, citing that this decision was legal, even though New South Wales surrogacy laws prohibit international commercial surrogacy.

There's an even more serious charge that could be laid against them. Ms Hawley reported that "the Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, said she was told by the High Commission staff that money changed hands, which would make it child trafficking".

Yet not all government departments are on Baby X's side. Knowing the High Commission's unease, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection bestowed citizenship upon just one child; the twin girl.

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New Delhi lawyer Shekar Nephade likened this to "aiding and abetting the Australian couple abandoning the child".

A number of prominent Australian judges are now lobbying for an inquiry into commercial surrogacy. One somewhat controversial proposal is to legalise it domestically to "remove the need for couples to go overseas", said Ms Hawley. This would assist in monitoring surrogate-born children's welfare.

In the meanwhile, things may be looking up for Baby X. According to the Australian Government, he has since been adopted.

You can watch the full Foreign Correspondent episode, 'About a Boy', here.

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