Ministry of Interior officials confirmed yesterday that new guidelines for foreign intended parents hoping to leave Cambodia with babies born to surrogate mothers will be released later this week, prompting cautious relief among parents and those involved in the industry.
Chou Bun Eng, permanent vice chair of the ministry’s National Committee for Counter Trafficking, said that Prime Minister Hun Sen had signed off on the guidelines, and that the details would be released within two days.
Ministry official Ran Serey Leakhena confirmed the guidelines would allow babies born to a surrogate mother to leave the country, and that foreign intended parents would not be prosecuted. However, surrogacy companies and brokers could still face legal penalties, Leakhena said.
The announcement comes five months after the Ministry of Health banned the industry, and as dozens of foreign intended parents wait in limbo, trying to obtain the necessary paperwork to leave Cambodia with their children.
Speaking yesterday, one foreign intended parent, who asked to remain anonymous, welcomed the government’s decision, but said he worries the government will charge foreign intended parents exorbitant fees to leave the country.
“I am really relieved that news about the exit strategy is coming . . . But first I would like to see what the law says. The only thing I am worried about is that there will be a lot of restrictions and we have to pay a big fine,” he said.
Some foreign intended parents have spent huge sums waiting in Cambodia and paying for paperwork, money that should be spent on the children’s upbringing, he continued.
“I hope that the government will make sure that people can get the documents without problems,” he said. “I and others experienced corruption getting documents because of being foreign. For example. paying $500 to $1,500 for a birth certificate.”
Mariam Kukunashvili, head of the surrogacy agency New Life Global, which operates in Cambodia, said most of the foreign parents her company works with have left successfully.
“Our last deliveries are in April and May 2017, and of course if exit will be easier for them, we will be thankful towards Government,” Kukunashvili wrote in an email.
But Sam Everingham, director of the Australia-based company Families Through Surrogacy, said the government has taken too long to release the guidelines.
Everingham said in an email that the measures are a huge relief to dozens of Camodian surrogates and intended parents, though he is still concerned new cases of IVF for surrogacy are being carried out in northern parts of Cambodia.
“Cambodia should be engaging with their own people, as well as key stakeholders and legislators in other countries which have regulated surrogacy practice, to ensure they come up with laws suited to the Cambodian environment,” he said.
Read more: A trio’s surrogacy saga