Details have emerged of an Australian couple abusing an international surrogacy arrangement, by abandoning one of their twins after they were born.
In December 2012, the New South Wales based couple flew back from India with their newborn daughter, but left her twin brother behind. Freedom of Information Documents obtained by the ABC reveal this was done with the full knowledge of Australian consular staff.
Once government officials became aware of the couple's decision to abandon their child, multiple warnings regarding the child's citizenship status were issued to them by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). They were instructed that India does not legally recognise children born via surrogacy arrangements, thus rendering the boy "stateless" if not brought home to Australia.
Despite these warnings, the couple still opted to leave their son behind.
Emails between the Australian High Commission in Delhi and officials in Canberra show the couple justified their decision by saying they already had a son at home, and could not afford to provide for three children. They had also told officials the boy would be given to friends in India "unable to conceive a child" themselves.
However, when these claims were investigated it was found that the proposed adoptive parents were not closely known to the couple.
The New Delhi High Commission sought "urgent" advice from the Australian government on how to proceed on three separate occasions, Freedom of Information documents reveal. Still, just two days after these requests were lodged, consular staff allowed the parents to leave the country-- and take only their daughter home with them.
Australian officials later justified their decision in an email to the Indian High Commission. "While we are concerned at the potential impact of the welfare of the child this is a matter that needs to be addressed by Indian authorities," it read.
DFAT has now told the ABC that the boy has since been formally adopted in India. However, no documentation to support this claim has been provided.
When the ABC first revealed this case in October 2014, concerns were raised by Chief Justice of the Family Court, Diana Bryant, over whether the baby was sold as part of a child trafficking arrangement.
This incident is reminiscent of the baby Gammy case last year, when an Australian couple took home their surrogate-born baby girl while leaving her twin brother with down syndrome behind.
More details to come.