Thai surrogacy scandal: Surrogate mum charged double if baby imperfect

Pat (not her real name) was promised Bt300,000 (S$11,700) for the job.

However, the contract that she signed also said that if she delivered an "imperfect" baby, she would have to care for it herself and pay Bt600,000 in compensation to the contractor - Japanese national Mitsutoki Shigeta.

This was how Pat's aunt and grandmother described the surrogacy service.

Pat, who has just turned 21, delivered a perfectly healthy baby. The infant, named Mitsushita, left Thailand on March 25 with Shigeta for a future that Pat knows nothing about.

An ongoing police investigation suggests that Shigeta, 24, left Thailand with a baby in his arms at least four times in recent years, with the declared destination being Phnom Penh.

Records show that he had proper documentation to take the children out of the country.

Shigeta attracted media attention after he was identified as the father of nine infants discovered at a condo in Lat Phrao earlier this month.

But he flew out of Bangkok early on August 7 - as soon as the police began looking into his case.

General Jarumporn Suramanee, a top adviser at the Royal Thai Police, said latest lab results show that of the nine infants, six baby boys are brothers and three baby girls are sisters. However, another test is required with a sample of Shigeta's DNA to find out if all nine babies are related.

"An additional test can be conducted to scientifically confirm whether Shigeta fathered all nine babies," Jarumporn said.

Police also need to find out why Shigeta decided to have so many babies via surrogate mothers here.

At present, Thailand does not have a specific law to govern surrogacy services.

However, the Medical Council strictly bans commercial surrogacy, and doctors found to have violated this regulation stand to lose their licence.

"According to civil law, a baby born to a surrogate mother is her legitimate child. But, she can give her child up for adoption," Jarumporn said.

However, he pointed out that many social problems and health risks could follow if surrogacy is not addressed properly.

When contacted, surrogate mothers of the nine babies have refused to provide details about their deals to the press, but many revealed the name of their agent - a half-Thai, half-Indian woman with the nickname 'Na'.

The agent has admitted recruiting surrogate mothers for a firm, but denied being involved in Shigeta's case.