Deal Taking Shape in Thai-Israeli Surrogacy Crisis

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

A solution is emerging in the crisis over surrogacy from Thailand. The Foreign Ministry approved a draft agreement submitted by one of the Israeli couples involved, in which the Thai woman who carried and bore a child for them agreed to allow for the infant’s permanent removal from Thailand.

The ministry told the couple that Israel would issue a passport for their baby if Thailand’s foreign ministry gave its approval. That process is expected to take a few days.

The arrangement is expected to allow dozens of couples, most of them same-sex, to bring back to Israel the children born to them through Thai surrogate mothers. Some of the babies have already been born.

Israel had until now refused to issue the infants passports, explaining that Thai law awards full parental rights to the biological mother, even if she elected to give them up.

“It’s a wonderful achievement; the parents will leave in a matter of days,” attorney Gil Ovadia Leibowitz, who represents some of the parents who are in Thailand with their babies, said. He praised the Foreign Ministry’s efforts to find a solution.

Still, he made it clear that it was only the beginning of the process of cutting the cord with the birth mother. “This arrangement doesn’t cut off the surrogate mother’s rights regarding her child according to Thai law and does not remove her name from the birth certificate,” he said.

“As long as she is registered as having rights it’s problematic,” Ovadia Leibowitz said, adding, “At this stage, the parent without a genetic connection is prevented from pursuing legal measures to be registered as an additional legal parent,”

One of the parents, Rubi Israeli Halbreich, who had twins with his partner Dotan through a surrogate mother in Thailand, began a hunger strike last night across from the home of Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar in Tel Aviv. He said he has no intention of ending his hunger strike until he gets official approval from the state allowing him to bring in his children.

“I’ve hard for 60 days that they have been making progress and just this morning ... we called the consulate there, and they informed us that the ambassador is on vacation until the middle of net week, and that we should turn to them next week,” he said. “I don’t believe anything until I see a document confirming that we can bring the children to Israel.”

The police told him to remove a tent he erected near Sa’ar’s home, but Israeli Halbreich refused to leave the place. Another demonstration opposite Saar’s house is expected tomorrow, demanding that passports be issued to the children.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in response, “The legal branch of the Foreign Ministry informed the lawyer representing one of the couples that the document presented to us in which the surrogate mother agrees to let the child leave Thailand permanently meets our requirements.” He noted that the lawyer was informed that the moment the document is translated and verified according to accepted practice by the local foreign ministry they could get a travel document from the consulate.

As for the claim of the consulate not responding to the parents, Palmor said, “We asked the consulate if there is any such thing and they said the consulate is functioning as normal.”

Dan and Arnon Goldberg returning with their newborn twins born via a surrogate mother in India, May 28, 2010.Credit: Tali Meir