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Officials lay out surrogacy families’ exit requirements

A surrogate mother photographed earlier this year in Kampong Speu province.
A surrogate mother photographed earlier this year in Kampong Speu province. Heng Chivoan

Officials lay out surrogacy families’ exit requirements

Ministry of Interior officials unveiled the details yesterday of a plan to allow foreign intended parents to exit Cambodia with the babies born to surrogate mothers.

Foreign intended parents who hired a Cambodian surrogate to carry and deliver their child will need to bring a formal request, drafted themselves, to any Cambodian court, along with the baby’s Cambodian birth certificate and proof that the foreign intended parent has a genetic link with the child, said ministry official Chou Bun Eng.

The application form must explain why the foreign intended parent chose to use a surrogate mother, and why the parent would like to take the baby abroad.

“After the DNA test, then they will need to obtain a birth certificate from the country of the intended parent,” Bun Eng explained. “Then there will need to be an agreement over who will raise the baby. So if the surrogate mother agrees to give the baby to the intended father, he can take the baby out of the country.”

According to Bun Eng, the process can be carried out in any provincial court or in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and is sanctioned by the Ministry of Justice. Foreign intended parents can begin preparing the documents to bring to court immediately, Bun Eng said, but it is not clear how long it will take to process each of the documents.

If the foreign intended parent does not come forward, however, the surrogate mother and her spouse will be given custody of the child.

Despite the move to legalise the exit of babies now being born to surrogate mothers, Eng said the government will not tolerate new cases of surrogacy. “This process is for cases of women who were pregnant before the announcement,” Bun Eng said. “If people continue to engage in surrogacy after the announcement, we will charge them.”

Cambodia currently lacks a law regulating commercial surrogacy, which began to take off in the Kingdom a little over a year ago. Government officials have formed an inter-ministerial working group to draft legislation regulating the industry, and it is widely believed that the industry will be banned.

Currently, dozens of foreign intended parents are believed to be waiting in Cambodia to exit the country with their children.

Read more: A trio’s surrogacy saga


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