Surrogate Mothers in India

 

FRED DE SAM LAZARO, correspondent: Minutes after delivering a slightly premature infant by C section, Dr. Nayna Patel was back in her office and on the phone to the parents.

Dr. Nayna Patel: Congratulations, it’s a baby girl. Where are you, in Mumbai right now?

DE SAM LAZARO: They were en route from their home in England and didn’t reach the small town of Anand, India in time to watch a surrogate mother give birth to their child.

Dr. Patel: Surrogate is also fine. The baby is also fine. We have taken the picture.

post01-indiansurrogatesDE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Patel has delivered some 400 surrogate babies since 2004. Her clinic implants embryos in surrogates she recruits from the area and pays around $7,000 for a pregnancy carried to term. Biological parents come from across India and around the world. Kirshner Ross-Vaden came here from Colorado to pick up her baby girl named Serenity. She was born four weeks premature, but after a week in neonatal intensive care she was ready to be discharged. Serenity’s 46-year-old mother traveled here with her nine-year-old son. She had tried unsuccessfully in recent years to conceive. Surrogacy was her last hope and India her first choice. The cost—$10,000 to $15,000 all told—is a fraction of what it is in the United States, and in America, she added, surrogacy contracts are not always air-tight.

KIRSHNER ROSS-VADEN: You can sign a hundred documents. It doesn’t matter. If that surrogate changes her mind she can sue you for that child, and oftentimes she will win, and coming here to India, these women, they don’t want my child. It’s very cut and dry. They do not want my child. They want my money, and that is just fine with me.

post05-indianmothersDE SAM LAZARO: It’s not fine with everyone.

DR. ARTHUR CAPLAN (University of Pennsylvania): The contracts usually are written, to be blunt, to protect the wealthy people who are commissioning the baby, so that if the woman suffers an injury, if the woman has a health problem due to childbirth, if there’s a long-term chronic condition, then what?

DE SAM LAZARO: University of Pennsylvania ethicist Arthur Caplan worries the relationship is inherently lopsided between poor, minimally literate women and well-heeled couples who commission them to have their children. For example, surrogates in India are routinely implanted with up to five embryos to improve the chances of a pregnancy. In the US, clinics usually implant no more than two, sometimes three.

DR. CAPLAN: Why would you use three, four, five embryos in India? Because you don’t want the couple to have to come back. It’s expensive, even for a rich person so you’re trying to maximize the chance of pregnancy, even if it might compromise the interests of the babies.

DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Patel concedes that implanting five embryos heightens the risk for infants and mother and says she is now lowering the number to three or four. But she says the downside of fewer embryos is a lower pregnancy success rate. When multiple embryos develop into viable pregnancies, Dr. Patel’s policy is to reduce them by selective abortion. Aside from possible religious concerns, this process could present medical risk to the surviving fetuses.

post02-indianmothersDR. PATEL: Parents—yes, there are some who say right from the beginning, “Doctor, put less embryos because we are not for reduction, and we don’t this to happen.” So in those cases we definitely never transfer more than two. But there are certain parents who don’t have any objection to this, and surrogates—we don’t allow them to carry more than two.

DE SAM LAZARO: Dr. Patel insists that her facility protects the interests of surrogates as much as the clients of her commercial surrogacy program and the infants she delivers.

DR. PATEL: We do a lot of psychological counseling for the surrogate and the family before we recruit them. We explain to them the procedure of IVF, what all they’ll have to undergo. If she has had any complications during her previous pregnancy, we will ask her not to become a surrogate, because the same can repeat this time, to make it very sure and safe for her.

DE SAM LAZARO: The moment their pregnancies are confirmed, surrogates are required to move into this home run by Dr. Patel. They’re offered skills training in things like tailoring, but mostly it’s a quiet, sedentary life. The women who spend nine months in this surrogate hostel have all experienced childbirth with their own biological children. It’s a prerequisite for becoming a surrogate. What very few of them have experienced with those previous pregnancies is any kind of prenatal care. That’s in sharp contrast to the pampering they get here: meals provided and medical attention, should they need it, round the clock. Dr. Patel acknowledges the irony but says it is part of a thorough surveillance to ensure smooth pregnancies, for both surrogate and parents’ sake.

post03-indianmothersDR. PATEL: We have a fetal medicine specialist who checks all the surrogates every three weeks. We have been able to detect minor congenital malformations which we inform the couple can be treated post-delivery without any impact on the baby. We have had patients whose surrogates had babies with Down syndrome, which was detected, which was confirmed with amniocentesis, and we have aborted those babies after the consent of the couple.

DE SAM LAZARO: Well in advance, she says, parents are consulted on decisions like pregnancy termination. Similarly, parents must accept their babies, once born, whether healthy or not. Surrogates we spoke to talked about building a new home and using their money for their children’s education. The money—$7,000-$8000—would otherwise take them decades to earn. Most say they were happy to have helped infertile couples. The woman who bore baby Serenity who we met earlier, admitted to some sorrow at her separation.

DHANA: You can’t help it when you’ve carried a baby for nine months. I’d like to see how she does in the future.

ROSS-VADEN: I do have her address, so I can get a hold of her. And I hopefully will be able to maintain some kind of a relationship with her.

post04-indianmothersDE SAM LAZARO: We caught up with Serenity’s mother in Mumbai, about 500 miles from Dr. Patel’s clinic. She and son Brandon were holed up in a hotel awaiting DNA test results and myriad documents to satisfy the Indian and US governments that the infant could leave the country.

ROSS-VADEN: Am I living happily ever after now? I certainly hope so. I hope that I can get her home, and I hope that she is a happy, healthy little baby, and that is what I will have—a healthy, happy little girl.

DE SAM LAZARO: But will every surrogacy story end happily? Right now, India has only voluntary guidelines, and it’s not clear whether future laws would be adequately enforced, and standards vary widely. For example, Dr. Patel says she only serves infertile patients. But some clinics offer surrogates to healthy parents who, for career or convenience, want to avoid pregnancy. Ethicist Caplan worries about where all this is leading.

DR. CAPLAN: We may get into situations where people start to say, as genetic knowledge improves, you know, I’m not infertile but I’d like to make a baby with traits or properties that I want to avoid or that I desire. That day is coming. I think it’s important to keep in mind, as we watch the evolution of surrogacy as an international activity, what is really something that a tiny handful of people use who suffer from infertility tomorrow can be what more people are interested in because they have a more eugenic, more perfectionist interest in making their children.

DE SAM LAZARO: For her part, Dr. Patel plans a major expansion of her one-stop surrogacy shop, a leader in what’s now a half-billion-dollar industry in India. She makes no apologies for making a lucrative living and insists that she, the surrogates, and the new parents all come out winners.

For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, this is Fred de Sam Lazaro in Anand, India.

  • Jon

    Dr Patel is absolutely correct: there are nothing but winners in this situation. The model seems to be working just fine, even without any statutes on the books. Yes, there have been a few complicated citizenship cases, but the sensationalism that the media and other interested parties seems to try to concoct and raise fears about the exploited surrogates and the potential for child-trafficking is nothing more than a concoction: there have never been any incidents to corroborate such cruelty. As for multiple embryos implanted, well I don’t know of any Indian Octomoms. That seemed to be an American phenomenon, in what presumably is a very ethical and regulated model in the US. And as far as surrogates reneging, that seems to be common in the US; but no documented cases yet in India. Finally, I find it hypocritical when people focus on poor Indian woman turning to surrogacy for profit and attempt to stigmatize them for their decision. I have no idea why these same people say nothing about women in the West who also engage in surrogacy for profit. Why is there a stigma in one scenario and not in the other. At the end of the day commercial surrogacy is for profit, for all involved, regardless of where it is happening. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves and needs to ask themselves why they are making any distinctions when all is equal and the only differing factor is the nation and race involved of the surrogates. Whether it’s an indigent Indian woman who is doing it to pull her family out of poverty or an American housewife who needs the funds to buy a Toyota Sienna for her own family, it’s all the same really.

  • Dr. N. Cheerala Prasad, Advocate

    Dr. Patel is doing an excellent job helping the child less couples to have a surrogate child with in a reasonable fee and helping the needy women are able to render their womb for surrogacy.

    Till today there is no law in India for surrogate arrangements. We have two cases of foreign couples who could not take their children to their country because their Country law does not permit the surrogate children. You may remember the case of Baby Manji Yamada V Union of India and twins Case i.e.Nikolas and Leonard. The parents of these Surrogate children who took birth in India, to an Indian Surrogate landed in Nationality issue. I am surprised how Dr. Patel is managing to send approximately 400 surrogate children to other foreign countries.

    Thanks God, Dr. Patel is managing with out involving in any legal battle from the Surrogate mothers.

  • Humanist

    Dr. Caplan does have some good points.

  • Sonya

    I found this program interesting and very positive right up until the point where I almost fell out of my chair when the surrogate clinic head stated that they have aborted pregnancies where the diagnosis of Down Syndrome was determined! This is ridiculous and terribly insulting! How can they just decide to pick and choose which pregnancy to abort, especially for a simple diagnosis of Down Syndrome. This is not a life threatening or debilitating condition. I liken this to the holicaust, how can you just kill an entire population and say that because they don’t meet societies definition of perfect they should just be exterminated!

  • London

    I’m not a supporter of this. I understand it helps poor women and their families but ethically I think it’s wrong. Any child one carries survives off of the blood and nutrients of the mother and therefore each child is more the surrogates infant than that of the woman who provides an egg. It will be very unfortunate that if down the road of life these children need transfusions or organs donated or desire to do so for a love one and discover they cannot safely receive or provide because the surregate mother is nowhere to be found.
    This is moving along faster than science and I suspect their will be other blood related complications & health issues that in time will be found among individuals that have surregate moms that will start to baffle doctors.

  • MEENU PAWAR

    I WANT TO BE A SURROGATE MOTHER MY AGE IS 25 YEARS I HAVE A BABY HE IS 5 YEARS OLD I LIVE IN JHANSI MY HUSHBAND DOING A GOVERMENT JOB I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON MY CONTECT NO.8853623009

  • MEENU PAWAR

    I WANT TO BE A SURROGATEMOTHER I AM 25 YEARS OLD I HAVE A BABY HE IS 5 YEARS OLD I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON MY CONTECT NO.IS 8853623009 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE CALL ME

  • Rhonda Taliaferro

    please send me information looking for surrogate mother to have a child for me

  • Laura

    Check out the list of reasons for abortion of unborn children in any normal pregnancy. There are much more benign deformations than Down Syndrome, all of which have legal grounds for abortion. Not in India, but in the western states. A holocaust is being done in normal clinics with such abortions but also including abortions just because people don’t want their healthy children, mostly for inconvenience. Surrogate children are wanted indeed, and those are just a small fraction of all birth deliveries.
    I think main people who are against surrogacy are people in U.S. medical industry/healthcare. Mere child delivery via normal way will cost you 8,000$, plus all other things. They are afraid that more and more people are going to seek for surrogates in the west, because it’s both very viable and affordable, so they want to put shame on all people or even enforce a ban to stop it. Other than that, it’s probably some bitter people and religious fanatics who can find surrogacy problematic. Health concerns for surrogates and the children born via this method should be taken seriously because it’s in interest of all of us. Attempts to cripple or outright ban fertility tourism should just be shunned by everyone.

  • DEBRA

    MY HUSBAND AND I R LOOKIN FOR SURROGATEMOTHER;
    WHERE DO YU LIVE?
    WHAT WOULD YUR FEE BE?

  • Melissa

    Blood is not directly shared between fetus and mother. Everyone is entitiled to their opinion but it holds little value when an opinion is not based in facts.

  • Mary

    It is always someone not really involved who screws things up for everyone else. It will be some “do gooder” university professor who eventually prevents Indian woman from changing their lives for the better with money otherwise very difficult to obtain, and preventing couples from the joy of being parents. If the U.S. had a better system, people wouldn’t need to go to India but no parent wants a big court battle over their own genetic children! What we have here is a willing surrogate (should be her choice not some outsider) and a couple who desire to be parents. What’s wrong with that arrangement?

  • B.C BHUYAN

    I and my wife both want a sorogate mother to become a parrents.if any lady interested pls reply immedietely.

  • Grace Shanks

    I’m sorry, but I just saw Dr. Patel on the CBS evening news. How arrogant of her to say that childless couples are like vegetables. Her exact quote was, “When you see a childless couple you would understand how desperate, how frustrated they are. I mean they are not living a life, they are just like a vegetable.”. My husband and I are one of those childless couples – not by choice. We have tried IVF and those failed. We eventually accepted that we are not meant to have children, so we are now childless by choice. We are both happy. We don’t feel like our lives are unfulfilled. I could have done surrogacy, but chose not not do it.

  • swetha vanga

    y dont ppl prefer to go for adoption if suffering being childless???? instead a parent less would get a better life.

  • Evy Soetjipto

    what country and what is the phone code?

  • maanpreet kaur

    I WANT TO BE A SURROGATEMOTHER I AM 29 YEARS OLD I HAVE A BABY HE IS 2 YEARS OLD I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON I’ve been living in Mumbai, India, the surrogate mother is looking for you to email me,mkaur1334@gmail.com

  • maanpreet kaur

    I’ve been living in Mumbai, India, the surrogate mother is looking for you to email me,mkaur1334@gmail.com

  • maanpreet kaur

    WANT TO BE A SURROGATEMOTHER I AM 29 YEARS OLD I HAVE A BABY HE IS 2 YEARS OLD I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON I’ve been living in Mumbai, India, the surrogate mother is looking for you to email me,mkaur1334@gmail.com

  • rahul rathod

    please contact infertile couple for surrogate mother.contact no.09822577262

  • Violet

    I need a surrogate mom. Please email me at missie31545@yahoo.com.
    I am ready to start this process NOW

  • Violet

    I live in USA. Please email me at missie31545@yahoo.com

  • violet

    Please email me at missie31545@yahoo.com

  • Violet

    I am interested. Please contact me

  • Violet
  • Violet

    I am interested in talking to a surrogate mom please. Can you contact me PLEASE?

  • Violet

    Please contact me at pvconaway@gmail.com

  • Violet

    Please email me at pvconaway@gmail.com.
    I am very interested in talking to you

  • Violet

    My husband and I want to talk to a surrogate mother. Please contact me at pvconaway@gmail.com

  • Violet

    I am interested in talking to a surrogate. I am married and do not have any kids. Please email me at pvconaway@gmail.com

  • Violet

    Please email me. I need a surrogate mother to have a child for me PLEASE. Urgent
    contact me at pvconaway@gmail.com

  • Violet

    contact me at pvconaway@gmail.com

  • usha

    I WANT TO BE A SURROGATE MOTHER I AM 34 YEARS OLD I HAVE two BABY. I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON I’ve been living in chennai, India, the surrogate mother is looking for you to email me usharanichelvans@gmail.com

  • nadeeka subodani

    My husbane & I are childless couple.We want a surrogate mom to become a parent.I am ready to start this process now.

  • nadeeka subodani

    My husband & I are childless couple.We want a surrogate mother to become parents.Please email me at nsubodani@gmail.com

  • usha

    Contact me through skype : greenspheretech. we will discuss further through skype.

  • usha

    if you want a SURROGATE MOTHER Please contact me usharanichelvans@gmail.com. I AM 34 YEARS OLD I HAVE two BABY. I AM UNDERGRADUATE PERSON I’ve been living in chennai, India.