By Shane (from Hua Hin)
If you are married to a Thai lady, or even just living with one who wants to start a family but it's just not happening, then you might want to continue reading this true story about a lifelong friend of mine and his Thai wife.
Paul (not his real name) and I first became friends exactly 30 years ago. Actually, I first became friends with his older brother but in no time at all Paul and I became really good mates. Now, Paul is virtually the exact opposite of me in every way. He does everything by the book; he's always well organized; he is a very responsible sort of guy in every sense of the word. The hilarious thing about Paul is the fact that he is the exact opposite once he has a few drinks. Deep down inside, he’s a joker, and it's when he's drunk that his inner self surfaces and he becomes one of the funniest people I've ever met. Anyway, let's forget about that for the time being.
The first time I visited Thailand it was with his older brother who is just as crazy, if not more so than I am. We spent our entire 10 day holiday in Phuket partying; going for soapy massages; taking girls from the Go-Go bars back to our rooms, and generally just having a very crazy time.
After travelling to Thailand a few times on my own and sometimes with another lifelong friend, I met a Thai lady who I fell hopelessly in love with, and soon we were married. That was sixteen years ago by the way and we are still married today. I had thrown caution to the wind and it worked for me, but it's not the sort of thing Paul or his older brother would ever dream of doing.
He loved the idea of having a Thai wife, but he of course needed to go about it in a more responsible manner. His solution was to sign up with a Thai dating site, and before long, he had met a Thai lady 9 years his senior. The two of them hit it off in a big way, largely because they are so similar in their ways. She was 42 years old at the time and had never been married, choosing rather to focus on her career.
After having dated each other for about a year, the two of them eventually got married and now 13 years later they are still happily married. Like I've said, they really are a perfect match so it was no surprise when they told me that they wanted to have a child. Unfortunately for them, it just didn't happen, and of course, since he is a foreigner, coupled with the fact that he drinks the occasional beer, it was obviously his fault lol. The fact that she was already in her early forties had nothing to do with it, or so she believed.
After trying unsuccessfully for a child for about two years, Paul and his wife decided to visit a fertility clinic in Bangkok. Since he has money, and because he is earning a really good wage, they chose to use one of Bangkok’s top fertility clinics. This clinic has a fantastic reputation, with a number of very powerful and very influential families being amongst its list of clientele.
An extensive range of tests were carried out which, needless to say, cost a small fortune. One of these tests involved testing Paul’s sperm count and sperm quality. I won't elaborate, but his account of this experience was absolutely hilarious.
On this first occasion he was told that his sperm count was a bit low and that he would need to avoid all alcohol for a few weeks and then return to give another sample. In the meantime, his Thai lady had been receiving hormone treatment in a bid to prep her eggs so, following his second donation, the decision was made to try artificial insemination even though there was no difference as far as his sperm count was concerned.
Eggs were duly taken from her; they were fertilized and then planted inside her. Unfortunately nothing happened so the process had to be repeated. The second time around they had better luck and his wife was thrilled when she was told that she was pregnant. Sadly, she had a miscarriage two months into her pregnancy.
By now they had already spent nearly a half a million baht but, being desperate for a child, they decided to push ahead. This involved more tests; more sperm donations; more hormone treatment, and finally the harvesting of more eggs. Despite Paul’s refusal to abstain from drinking any alcohol, his sperm count was now normal, but he was more concerned about the fact that he actually had to pay to masturbate into a cup lol - you'd think his Thai lady would be allowed to lend a helping hand but apparently not...
When some of the newly fertilized eggs were implanted his wife once again became pregnant but soon miscarried again. A few months later they implanted more eggs and again she became pregnant. Things seemed to be going well this time, but four months into her pregnancy she miscarried once again. This time, the miscarriage occurred due to a serious defect. Had his wife gone full term and given birth, the child would have been horribly deformed, with absolutely no chance of living beyond two years of age.
By now Paul and his wife had spent well over a million baht on their quest to have a child. Paul once confided in me, telling me that he thought they should just forget about the whole thing altogether, and rather try to adopt a child instead. After drinking more than he should have one night, he looked at me and declared that to try fertility treatment again would be the same as throwing money down the drain. “She’s in her mid-forties mate, it’s like flogging a dead horse,” he said.
Now I realize that may sound really nasty, but if you knew Paul the way I do, you would know that it is just his weird sense of humour. In truth, he has always been exceptionally supportive of his Thai lady. Anyway, the doctors at the clinic informed Paul and his wife that they were not willing to repeat the same treatment again.
While the doctors at the clinic cited safety concerns as being the reason for their unwillingness to try again, I personally believe that they were also concerned about the clinic’s reputation. This current IVF approach was clearly not working, so the doctors at the clinic recommended trying for a child using a surrogate mother.
With some help from the clinic, they were soon able to find a surrogate mother. Naturally, they would be responsible for any and all medical expenses, and they agreed to pay 200,000 baht in compensation to the surrogate mother. This was to be paid in instalments as different milestones were reached.
Things were really looking good this time around, but then disaster struck, and the surrogate mother miscarried as well. Was this the end of the road?
After a lot of debating, it was decided to try one last time. She was once again put on hormone therapy in order to prep her eggs. Paul of course had to stomach another costly self-induced ejaculation, and then various tests were carried out in order to isolate those eggs which the doctors felt were the best candidates.
After nearly six months, a new surrogate mother had been found, and four eggs were implanted in her. However, only one of them was a success, and the surrogate Thai lady went on to have a seemingly normal pregnancy. With so many disappointments behind them, neither Paul nor his wife was very hopeful, but I am pleased to say their luck had finally changed and soon a perfectly healthy little boy was born.
As any long term expat in Thailand will tell you, officialdom in Thailand can quite literally drive you up the wall, and Paul and his wife were just about to get a really good taste of this.
To begin with, under the law, a Thai lady can only be named as the mother on the birth certificate if she was the one that gave birth. Surrogacy is perfectly legal in Thailand, but current laws are at odds with the whole concept. Despite Paul already being married to his wife, he was entitled to have his name on the birth certificate. In other words, he is and always has been the legal father of the child. His wife on the other hand cannot be listed as the mother because she never gave birth to the child, even though she is the biological mother.
In order to get around this problem, a grand plan was formulated by Paul’s wife and some of her family members: When the time came for the surrogate mother to leave hospital, the two women would swap ID cards, and the surrogate mother would pose as his wife. Of course the hospital staff would never pick up on this, bearing in mind that Thai ID cards contain a colour photo of the holder, and the fact that there was an age difference of more than 20 years between the two women.
Of course Paul was horrified, and he was convinced that he would surely end up getting arrested as a result. They had barely sat down at the desk when the Thai lady who was dealing with them politely excused herself, only to return a few minutes later, along with several senior staff members. At this point, Paul believed beyond all doubt that he would be spending the next few years of his life in a Thai prison.
Fortunately, Thai people are generally very forgiving, and no attempt was made to involve the police. The hospital staff were very sympathetic, but they were adamant that they could under no circumstances go along with such a plan. A few minutes later, everybody was allowed to leave, along with a birth certificate naming Paul as the father and the surrogate mother as the mother.
After consulting with a highly respected legal firm in Bangkok, Paul was instructed to lodge a legal request for full custody of the child. I should mention here that the surrogate mother was wonderful throughout the whole affair, and she was more than happy to do whatever she could in order to help things along. Meeting a less scrupulous Thai lady was, of course, another potential pitfall but one that managed to escape.
After waiting nearly a year for a court date, Paul finally had to appear before a panel of five family court judges. The surrogate mother was not expected to appear since she had already signed all the necessary paperwork.
The story was that Paul had met this Thai lady one night and after drinking too much, they had sex together, and she became pregnant. Paul was now willing to accept full responsibility for his careless actions, and the child’s irresponsible mother was in agreement that Paul should be granted custody of the child because he was financially capable of giving the child a far better life.
The court was adjourned, and after about eight or nine months Paul was informed by his lawyer that he had been granted full custody of his child, with the child’s mother having forfeited all her rights.
Of course, there remains one seemingly unsolvable problem, in that Paul’s wife is still not recognized as the child’s mother. The closest they can get to that goal would involve Paul giving the child up for adoption, and then having his wife adopt the child. Naturally they don’t want to go through all this, so for now at least, they have decided to leave things just the way they are.
By the way, they will be using some of the eggs they have in storage in order to try for a second child. The plan at present is to get the ball rolling this year, and they have already started looking for a suitable Thai lady to once again act as a surrogate mother for them.
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