Baby Gammy, born with Down’s syndrome to a surrogate mother in Thailand, has been granted Australian citizenship.
Gammy was left behind while his twin sister Pipah went home with Australian parents David and Wendy Farnell last year.
The Farnells faced heavy criticism after their story made the news worldwide for leaving one baby behind and taking the other. Besides Down’s syndrome, Gammy has a congenital heart condition.
Surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua said she sought Australian citizenship to safeguard Gammy’s future.
Gammy, who turned one in December, is eligible for Australian citizenship because his biological father is David Farnell.
The youngster will now have access to healthcare in Australia and is eligible for an Australian passport, the media in Australia has reported.
Last year, Ms Chanbua applied for citizenship for her son, with the help of the Australian charity Hands Across the Water, as a safeguard for his future.
Australia’s department of immigration and border protection confirmed that the child’s application for citizenship by descent had been granted.
The 21-year-old surrogate mother said she did not know when she would relocate to Australia from Thailand.
“I want him to be near me here so that I don’t have to miss him,” she said. “But if all of my family, including me, die and if Gammy is left behind alone, at least the Australian government will help him.”
After initially saying the Farnells had refused to take Gammy, Ms Chanbua later told international media she had not allowed Gammy to be taken by the Australian couple. The mother also later claimed that the Farnells wanted Gammy aborted when they found out he had Down’s syndrome, but that was against her Buddhist beliefs.
In a previous TV interview, the Farnells said that after Gammy was born they wanted to bring both babies home.
It was later revealed that David Farnell had child sex convictions, prompting Australia’s department of child protection to launch an investigation in August. In November, Western Australia child protection minister Helen Morton said there would be “continual and rigorous testing” of a safety plan that had been developed for Pipah.
The Farnells retain custody of Pipah but with strict court conditions, according to Australian media reports.
Gammy’s case drew donations from around the world which are being managed by an Australian charity and have been used to pay for his hospital bills and a new home for Ms Chanbua’s family.
In a TV interview, the Australian parents of Gammy had previously said they wanted a refund from the Thai surrogacy agency when they were told one of their twins would be born with Down’s syndrome, and would have requested the pregnancy be aborted.
“It was late into the pregnancy that we learned the boy had Down’s,” David Farnell said.
“They sent us the reports but they didn’t do the checks early enough.
“If it would have been safe for that embryo to be terminated, we probably would have terminated it, because he has a handicap and this is a sad thing. And it would be difficult – not impossible, but difficult.”