Imagine your daughter walking down the street in a foreign city in blissful carefree mindset and of a sudden gets to meet, face to face, and coming towards her from the opposite direction, another young woman looking just like herself! Or your son meeting another young man resembling him in almost every way!

Well, that is the challenge of Indian surrogacy!

India, for your information, delights in not only exporting her human resource to other nations for earning more forex but also helps many foreign childless couples go back as blissful parents with their babies born in Indian young women on a  USD 50000 to USD 10,0000 contract!

The letter from Steve (name changed), a US citizen says it all,

” My wife and I are grateful for the chance. After five miscarriages we thought our window was closing. We thought of adoption but wanted a genetic connection. So we came to India. Its freedom of choice. Nobody is forcing you to do it!”

In his case he was lucky because he got the surrogate mom services of a healthy young woman in Gujarat. He himself was quite robust and so his semen had no problem quality-wise too. (In some cases the baby can be born with congenital genetically transferred diseases like hemophilia).

Mayaben (name changed)  , the woman in this case , was only 30 when she rendered that service to Steve for Rs 3 lakhs out of the total cost of Rs 30 lakhs –that was a boy named Harry–but is nearly 40 and rues the lowering of age for surrogate aspirants. She has 3 kids of her own and needs the money for their education.

Many surrogate women get nothing even if they give birth to twins though double the inconvenience is experienced by them during delivery! And kids die too in the incubator of unknown complications!

Did you know that there are 20 million infertile couples in India, which is, incidentally, entirely in tune with the global reality of 10 to 15% of a nation’s population being incapable of being parents? So, since this needs medical assistance of a specialized kind, assisted reproduction is permitted in hospitals and fertility clinics today.

Did you know that unlike in the West where they are not at all particular about having kids, Indians make a fuss about every young couple somehow procreating a baby ,if only for avoiding the stigma of being labeled sterile/barren or impotent? Is it then a surprise that a huge booming multi-million dollar business has grown around this anxiety to be a mother or a father? [Faced with such a situation of having to cough up Rs 10 to 20 lakhs for having a baby, some Indian moms let their wedded daughters mate with their own family friend’s sons without their own SILs getting to know about it!]

Did you also know that the hub of this business—technically known as Assisted Reproductive Technologies business– is Anand, a Gujarat township made famous for its milk production? Next to Anand comes Hyderabad where many couples live quite prosperously on this income alone and totally tax-free! Many women also live as surrogates or as oocyte donors.

We have no precise data at the moment about how many infertility centers are functioning across India though by last count we had 1200 listed ones. A ball park figure would be 5000!

Go to Akanksha Infertility Clinic in Anand, if you are a healthy young woman below 30, and meet Dr Nayana Patel*. From 2004 till 2014, Dr Patel has helped bring 826 babies by 619 surrogate moms, most of them commissioned by foreign nations.

Who knows, your future shall be almost made. That is how popular her clinic happens to be for all women of child bearing age, even for Taraben (name changed), a regular surrogate mom in Maninagar, Ahmedabad! Akanksha has thought of everything—even a residential facility for all women that wish to hide being pregnant to escape social disapproval if not stigma. She has clients from Australia, Scandinavian countries and the US.

Alternatively you may meet Dr Himanshu Bavishi‘s Fertility Clinic too! He is the President of Indian Society for Third-Party Assisted Reproduction (INSTAR).

(*Ms. Patel says that surrogacy is a life-changing business for the couple as well as for the surrogate mom and that it must not be made into a mere baby-making industry!)

The main players in this business are not only fertility specialists but also sperm donors and oocyte donors. IVF equipment supplies are also involved in promoting their business through this route. We have hundreds of clinics in this area—Padmaja Fertility Clinic in Hyderabad, which also runs a residential facility in Bhongir for expectant moms, or young women in the preparatory stage, Any Test Tube baby Centre run by Dr Anuradha, and many others. (This keeps many young women from distant rural areas like Srikakulam, West Godavari and Mehbubnagar and Visakhapatnam from seeking any other employment too!)

Doctors are expected by ICMR to keep away from the surrogacy chain and limit themselves to advising couples but many childless couples are ready to take the risk if the doctors are willing to co-operate at a hefty fee.

Of course there can be legal complications. Foreign couples need to get medical visa –as if they are arriving for treatment–but this is not binding on the clinics.

Some municipalities refuse to issue baby’s birth certificates for surrogate moms. Requests for including the mother as the genetic mom in lieu of the surrogate woman are also received by hospitals—this will help the foreign couple get visa for the kid—but if the surrogate dies in the C-section surgery it will be a problem to issue death certificates to the surrogate. Many nations do not have accepted rules for accepting surrogate kids.

Legal adoption of the newborn is the only option left.

Some kind of regulation is needed in this area if we are to safeguard the rights of (a) couples undergoing treatment (b) medical service providers and (c) other stake holders. Plus we need to prevent malpractices.

An ART Regulation Bill is pending in Parliament in this connection. It has strict clauses that all donations of semen and egg must be anonymous. Many young women give away their oocytes, which is a habit that needs to be halted if the baby to be got is to be the child of commissioning parents.

Prevalent conditions make it possible for a childless couple to have their own baby born in another Indian woman for as little as Rs 10 lakhs. Rates for foreign couples vary of course.

Interestingly enough parents don’t ask for designer babies on their own though they wish to have a kid resembling them somewhat for social and community acceptability reasons. What they don’t tend to compromise on is caste and religion.

A new career –ART Agent–has opened up too around this phenomenon. Such persons travel across the length and breadth of the country in response to calls from childless wives and women.

Once these women fill up certain forms containing details such as age, religion, height, looks education etc. about themselves and the donor they expect the sperm to be from, such agents provide egg donors or sperm donors from their list for an amount of Rs 1 lakh! The profit here is that the egg donor gets Rs 25000 minimum but if Mongolian-Caucasian and milk-and-roses in complexion gets I Lakh! Sperm donors get slightly less than this amount! Though law necessitates anonymity of the sperm or egg donor, pictures of such persons are openly displayed too.

Both egg donors and their recipients are often very choosy though sperm donors aren’t!

A global organization called GSMART (Global Surrogate Mothers Advancing Right Trust) has come up recently in Chennai. Indian Surrogacy Law Centre –based again in Chennai–also helps the women.

India is yet to address this delicate issue in all its gravity, though this is a fully thriving business and source of income in many cities of the nation!

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