BANGKOK – A Thai court awarded on Tuesday the paternity rights of 13 children born to Thai surrogate mothers to a 28-year-old Japanese man.
The Central Juvenile and Family Court in Bangkok granted custody to Mitsutoki Shigeta as the “single parent” of the children, who were born by nine surrogates whom he had hired in 2013 and with donor eggs.
“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,” the court said in a statement.
Nine of the children were discovered in August 2014 in an apartment in Bangkok with seven nannies and another pregnant woman, who later gave birth to a girl.
The authorities then confirmed that Shigeta, the son of a wealthy Japanese businessman, had entered the country on 65 occasions since 2012 and was seen at least three times leaving Thailand with a baby in his arms.
The pregnant women had given birth before the laws to restrict these practices came into effect in July 2015, raising the possibility that Shigeta would have to go to court to demand parental rights.
The court further dismissed the accusation of human trafficking against Shigeta, who had opened several bank accounts in Singapore on behalf of the children.
His lawyer stated that the process of moving the children from their current residence at a government premises to their new home in Tokyo would be gradual.
In 2015, Thailand passed laws prohibiting foreigners from hiring surrogate mothers after a baby with Down syndrome was abandoned by an Australian couple.