Court rules baby Gammy's twin Pipah be raised by Bunbury parents

Baby Gammy twin sister to stay in Bunbury

Baby Gammy's twin sister Pipah will be raised by Bunbury couple David and Wendy Farnell after a judge ruled she will not be returned to Thailand to be raised by her birth mother.

Baby Gammy's twin sister Pipah will be raised by Bunbury couple David and Wendy Farnell after a judge ruled on Thursday that she not be returned to Thailand to be raised by her birth mother.

Family Court of WA Chief Judge Stephen Thackray ordered Pipah continue to live with her Bunbury parents, subject to strict conditions including regular visits by Department of Child Protection officers.

Pipah's birth mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, 22, applied to the court in April 2015 to raise Pipah after learning Mr Farnell, 58, was a convicted paedophile who had previously served time in jail for molesting young girls in the 1990s.

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy in Bangkok, Thailand, last year.
Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua poses with baby Gammy in Bangkok, Thailand, last year.  Photo: Handout

Pipah was born in Thailand in December 2013 by commercial surrogacy using Mr Farnell's sperm and an unidentified woman's egg after several failed attempts for Mr and Mrs Farnell, 50, to conceive using IVF.

Pipah's twin brother, Nareubet Minjaroen, known as "Gammy" has Down Syndrome and lives in Thailand with Ms Chanbua and her husband, Nid Chanbua.

The twins' births sparked a media frenzy when it was reported the Farnells abandoned Gammy in Thailand after learning he had a disability.

On Thursday, Justice Thackray made an order that it go on the record that the parents did not abandon Gammy, nor did they seek access to money in his trust account, at any time – as was reported at the time.

"I am not persuaded that the Farnells ever asked for Mrs Chanbua to have an abortion...nevertheless, Mrs Chanbua gained the impression that the Farnells only wanted the 'healthy' baby," he said. 

"Although I cannot be sure of all that was said at around this time, it is clear that Mrs Chanbua had fallen in love with the twins she was carrying and had decided she was going to keep the boy.

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"The Farnells asked Joy (an employee of the child surragacy agency) to plead with Mrs Chanbua for them to have both children. At one point, Joy had what she described as a "fight" with Mrs Chanbua about her wanting to keep Gammy." 

Justice Thackray said the Farnells lied to their family in WA about Gammy dying because they had conceded Ms Chanbua was not going to let them take him home and they were afraid of losing Pipah too. 

He found the three-year-old, who has been raised by the Farnells since birth, lived a happy and content life, and would be traumatised if removed from the only parents she's ever known.

"I have primarily taken into account the strong attachments that Pipah has now formed with the Farnells and many others in Bunbury, as well as the quality of the care she is receiving," Justice Thackray said.

"While it is a matter of grave concern to leave any child in the home of a convicted sex offender, I have accepted the expert evidence that while there is a low risk of harm if Pipah stays in that home, there is a high risk of harm if she were removed.

"I have also taken into account the measures that can be put in place to ensure Pipah is kept safe."

Those measures include Department of Child Protection officers visiting their home at least three times a year by appointment and additional unannounced visits.

The Farnells must also comply with a 'safety plan' developed for Pipah.

The Judge ruled the Farnells send artwork drawn by Pipah to Ms Chanbua and Gammy at least three times a year once she starts school – to keep a bond between the twins.

He, however, decided against ruling regular electronic communication be kept between the two families, leaving that decision to the parents.

Neither parents have seen the other twin since the Farnells left Thailand with Pipah in February 2014.