A Bangkok court has awarded a wealthy Japanese man “sole parent” rights to 13 children he fathered through surrogate mothers, paving the way for him to take custody of them all after dismissing fears he was involved in human trafficking.
Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, the son of a rich IT tycoon, became the focus of a “baby factory” scandal in 2014 after the Thai police discovered he had fathered nine infants, aged between two weeks and two years old, who were being cared for by nannies in an upmarket Bangkok apartment.
The children, along with four others also fathered by Mr Shigeta, were placed under the care of the Thai state while Interpol investigated whether it was a case of human trafficking.
The police said at the time that he paid the surrogates between $9,300 and $12,500 each to carry his children.
Mr Shigeta left the country as the potential scandal unfolded, but took Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to court to fight for custody of the children.
Through his lawyer, he maintained that he simply wanted to have a large family and that he had the financial means to look after them.
Mr Shigeta “was born in a big family and wanted the children to grow up together,” the lawyer argued, adding that he also wanted his offspring to help run the family business.
Bangkok’s Central Juvenile Court on Tuesday upheld his claim after Thai officials checked that he had enough carers and facilities to give the children a good home.
“For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy to be legal children of the plaintiff,” it said in a statement.
The children are now set to join three other infants Mr Shigeta was granted custody of in 2015.
However, the controversy surrounding his case, and another where an Australian couple were accused of abandoning a surrogate baby born with Down’s Syndrome – the ‘Baby Gammy’ dispute – has led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners.
India, which once boasted a $400 million a year surrogacy industry, also banned international commercial surrogacy in 2015, over fears that vulnerable women were being exploited. Some clinics then opted to out-source business to neighbouring Nepal.
From Thailand, the so-called rent-a-womb business migrated to neighbouring Cambodia, which then barred the practice in 2016.
However, the industry now appears to be flourishing in communist Laos, one of Asia’s poorest countries.
Surrogacy is not illegal in the UK but it is subject to strict laws. It is a criminal offence to advertise that you are looking for a surrogate or willing to act as one. It is also an offence to broker a surrogacy deal on a commercial basis.
Click Here: Golf special