Three Israeli single dads unable to fly their Mexico-born babies home

Marcus Moraes

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — Three Israeli single fathers whose babies were born in Mexico to surrogate mothers are unable to fly their children to the Jewish state because local authorities are refusing to issue birth certificates.

The Mexican birth certificates are necessary in order to allow the children to be issued Israeli passports. 

The new fathers – Shaul Shiri, David Toledo and Hanoch Benish – accused the Israeli Embassy in Mexico of not assisting them enough, but officials say that the Israelis violated Mexican law, reported Israel Hayom newspaper.

“It is a real mess,” Shiri told Israel’s Channel 2. “The embassy asked us not to involve lawyers or the media and said they would resolve the situation. It took a while, but eventually they managed to help one couple with twins.”

“Our situation is bad, mentally and physically. We don’t sleep. We pinned a lot of hope on this all ending six weeks after it began, and it’s dragging on and on,” both Shiri and Toledo, whose babies were born in January, told  Israel Hayom.

Mexican authorities say that Israelis who entered into surrogacy contracts with Mexican women unwittingly broke the law, which prohibits foreign and same-sex parents from using surrogates in the Latin American nation.

“Two and a half months ago there was a case of bribery in the local government. Since then they have stopped issuing any birth certificates,” Shiri told Channel 2, reported the Times of Israel.

There are another eight Israelis currently in Mexico awaiting the births of their children by surrogate mothers, according to Eitan Weiss from Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

“Everything is legal. How could we have started the process if it turns out to be illegal? At the moment, the Foreign Ministry is doing somersaults to help,” attorney Gil Ovadia Leibowitz told Israel Hayom.

“In 2015, we received approval for 30 couples to enter the surrogacy process in Mexico. Since then, mothers were found, and all the permits were signed. Everything is because of a new director in the local interior ministry who showed up and decided to make changes with an inappropriate framework,” Leibowitz said.

Israel’s first surrogacy law was passed in 1996, and it has not been amended since then. Only heterosexual couples are legally able to use surrogacy in Israel, and there are many restrictions on who can serve as a surrogate, according to the Times of Israel.

While straight couples must go through an onerous committee process in order to qualify for surrogacy, homosexual couples are left completely out of the system. Consequently, they must look to foreign surrogacy in order to have babies.