There is a story that is going seriously viral right now, about an Australian couple that had a surrogate mother in Thailand grow them twins. When one of the twins was born with Down syndrome and health complications, the couple apparently abandoned him and went on back to the Land Down Under with their one non-disabled twin.
That's the story that's flooding the internets here in the United States.
When I first saw the story in my news feed, I took a step back.
Even though I am a loud (and proud) disabled and disability rights advocate as well as the mother of a daughter with Down syndrome, this is not a story that I want to delve deeply into and here's why:
1. This is not just an issue of abandonment and disability.
For issues clearly and solely about abandonment and disability, go over to Eastern Europe or even here in the United States. Our foster care system is chock full of children who have been abandoned, and many of them because they have a disability.
Eastern Europe is even worse. There, you can find horrific real situations that harken back to Willowbrook and all that we used to do right here in the good ole US of A. Only while we stopped, they are still locking those abandoned children with disabilities up in institutions for life, many of them starving to death and wasting away in ways that will make your soul weep.
That's abandonment and disability, straight up. No debate about it.
The Thai case may also be about abandonment and disability but it's also about surrogacy, it's about the concept of renting a lower-priced womb in a developing country. It's about the framework for such things, and hey -- is this even right? Should this be happening? Should rich women be allowed to rent wombs of poorer women, is this all OK because it doesn't feel right.
If the Thai case can be compared to a sundae, then disability is the whipped cream and cherry on it -- the real substance of the sundae -- the ice cream and chocolate, so to speak -- are the issues of surrogacy and developing/developed countries.
2. The parents are telling a different story
According to the Bunbury Mail, the parents say that the story of abandonment is one of "lies." This is pretty heavy-duty, you guys -- they are talking about legal rights made null, about congenital health issues and military lockdown. The latter part is the one that I find the most believable -- I know how it can be when you are in a country and something like a lockdown is happening and you have choices that need to be made hard and fast.
3. New twists are popping up
The Daily Mail reported today that the child's father has been convicted of 22 child sex charges.
The story gets worse and worse.
Now, I don't know what is true or not. I think there are three people in this world that know exactly what happened there and unfortunately, they are not issuing a joint statement.
It's word vs. word and what I see happening is a lot of pro-life and advocacy groups hopping on to the story itself as a springboard for other causes.
With a story that shifts and twists more than a high-speed roller coaster ride and without certainty that anything we are reading is in fact, true, this is one ride that I prefer not to ride. I hope that it is something that can be brought before a court and tried though: those twins are innocent and deserve to be protected and raised well.