28-Year-Old Single Dad of 16 Close to Getting All His Kids

Thai court awards Mitsutoki Shigeta sole parental rights
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2018 2:34 PM CST
28-Year-Old Single Dad of 16 Close to Getting All His Kids
In this Aug. 12, 2014, file photo, the media attend a press briefing where Thai police display projected pictures of surrogate babies born to a Japanese man.   (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

The son of a Japanese IT billionaire reportedly wanted a big family and set out to get it via surrogate. Now, Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, is about to gain custody of all 16 kids he is known to have fathered via Thai surrogate mothers. The BBC explains Shigeta grabbed headlines in 2014 when his Bangkok apartment was raided, turning up a "baby factory"—nine babies, a pregnant surrogate, and 24-hour nannies—over fears of a human trafficking operation. The truth, argued his lawyer, was just that Shigeta wanted plenty of kids and had the means to do so (the AP reports he earns at least $3 million a year via stock holdings); and so they sued for custody. A Thai court on Tuesday agreed with that premise, after hearing from Thai officials who traveled abroad to verify he had sufficient resources to raise the 13 children in the country's custody.

Shigeta secured custody of the three other kids in 2015, and media reports say it's possible he has fathered even more children in other locations. (The AFP suggests there are at least 19 kids.) He reportedly bought land next to a Tokyo park on which to raise them and has opened trust funds for them. "For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behavior, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy to be legal children of the plaintiff," read a court statement. The BBC notes the Thai surrogates gave up any rights to the children. The children, most around age 4, will not immediately enter his custody but will be transferred gradually out of foster care. Shigeta's case helped prompt a 2015 law that bars foreigners from paying for Thai surrogates. (More surrogates stories.)

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