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A look into India’s surrogacy industry

With Special Thanks
hedwig alfred
Shyam tekwani
deepa Suryanarayanan
Nikon singapore


Wee kim wee
school of
and information,
nanyang technological
university, singapore
First Word M
AKE no mistakes about it, India is not the place to migrate
to if you are a stickler for cleanliness, efficiency and
Yet, for what it is worth, their indomitable spirit and ability to
get on with life in the face of adversity border on the inspirational.
The 26/11 Mumbai attacks was as astounding in the extent
of the massacre – at least 173 killed and 308 injured – as it was
resounding in the indictment of the city’s inability to fight terror.
Then again, in India, when you can’t fight, you cope. So just like
the 2003 and 2006 Mumbai train blasts and a slew of other attacks,
Mumbai was up and running again in a matter of days.
It was a good thing too, for we would not have been able to
complete our fieldwork about surrogate mothers in India.
Of course we were on tenterhooks flying into a terror-stricken
state so quickly after such a large-scale assault. However, and this is
not from the benefit of hindsight, we somehow felt safe enough to
make the trip. And so we went, much to the chagrin of our families
and friends.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions in India and it seems
the concept of surrogate mothers is a classic example of Indian
improvisation as well.
They are usually poor womenfolk who conceive on behalf of
another couple in return for a sum of money they would otherwise
take many more years to make. You must understand there are not
much career prospects for most of the uneducated women in India.
The cost of such procedures in India is also almost a quarter
of what clinics in America or Europe charge. Hence, India is fast
emerging as a popular destination for childless couples to seek help.
Advocates of surrogacy call it a win-win measure. Neutrals
feel it is controversial. Opponents wish the idea was never born at
all, deeming it exploitative — the childless couple may be held to
ransom, or the destitute surrogate mother may be underpaid.
Scratch the surface, and surrogate mothers will tell of how the
needs of two desperate women are met in such a transaction — the
barren gets a baby, the broke gets a bonus. And they all live happily
ever after.
Dig deeper and the surrogates begin to reveal the trauma and
turmoil they experience before plunging into what some of them
call the “last decent resort” to pay off debts, buy a house, or save for
their children’s education.
Even doctors in India are divided on this issue. There are those
like Dr Indira Hinduja who feel that adoption should be the way to
go for couples unable to conceive. However, most IVF doctors are
like Dr Nayna Patel, who recommends surrogacy with stringent
Then there are some who take it to another realm, such as Dr
Gautam Allahbadia, who offers surrogacy options to gay couples.
On a personal level, it was difficult to miss how some couples
long to have children. We would never understand what it is like to
go through 10 failed fertility treatments like Sue did.
In her own words, the well-to-do American lady of Korean
descent would never imagine herself in a rundown Indian clinic in
the middle of a sleepy and dusty rural village, wiping her tears as she
tells her story to rookie journalists. The physical and psychological
trauma must have been immense.
Mother Teresa could not have put it better: “Even the rich are
hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having
someone to call their own.”
We think, even more so the poor. Hence, we present to you the
A new mother rests on a bed at the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in Kaival Hospital
story of the surrogate mothers in India, as well as tales from other
after giving birth a few hours earlier.
stakeholders in this burgeoning industry.
An embryologist
injecting sperm
into an egg at the
page 6-9 Rotunda Fertility
Clinic in Mumbai.
An introduction to the surrogacy industry.
The fertilised
embryo will then be
transferred to the

page 12-17
An exploration into the lives of India’s surrogates.

page 20-23 24-31
SURROGACY A photo-essay on the surrogate hostel in Nadiad,
home to Dr Patel’s surrogates for the months that
Dr Nayna Patel: The pioneer of they are pregnant.
commercialised surrogacy in India.

page 32-33 page 34-35
Surrogacy India, a Mumbai-based surrogacy startup, An insight into the thoughts of foreign childless
aims to give foreigners peace of mind, and of course, couples who have come to India to seek help.
a baby.

page 38-40 page 41 the
A Gujarati couple faces an uphill battle after
Two journalists from India’s biggest newspapers,
losing three children. Desperate, they turn to The Times of India and Daily News Analysis,
surrogacy as the very last attempt to have a child speak out on the issues covering surrogacy as
they can call their own. news reporters.

page 44-45 page 36-37
Surrogacy, both altruistic and commercial, is banned in
How a Mumbai clinic is going against the norm by allowing
the bustling city-state. Can it be a solution for its infertile foreign same-sex couples to have their own babies through surrogacy.
couples who have exhausted every other option?

01 A Gujarati woman coaxes her child, obtained through a surrogate, near Akanksha Infertility Clinic.
Surrogacy has given a new line of hope for many Indian and foreign childless couples.
02 A man takes a nap while his wife undergoes an interview to be a surrogate at Akanksha. Behind him are photos of
surrogate babies that the clinic has delivered in the last six years.

Worth an estimated US$445
million (S$680 million),
commercial surrogacy is big
business in India where 75.6

percent of its population lives 02
on less than US$2 a day. Critics amount her odd-job labourer husband last resort after reading about encouraging
argue that India’s womb-for-rent Haresh would only be able to make in 10 testimonies on Internet forums.
industry amounts to exploitation, years. “We have already busted more than
while a new bill is in the works “With the money, I won’t have to US$100,000 (S$153,139) in the States
to plug any loopholes in this worry about rent. I can buy a new house. engaging top IVF experts with no results,”
controversial transaction. My son will also have an education,”
Meena said in her native Gujarati. “And
John said. “Of course, it helps that it is
cheaper over here as we have already
With the money, I
I am also doing a good deed by providing
the childless couple a baby.”
depleted much of our savings trying to
fulfill our dream.
won’t have to worry
The couple that hired her had made
their way down to the laid-back town from
“I think this is a major pull factor for
most childless couples thinking about
about rent. I can buy

S a new house. My
EVEN months pregnant, Meena San Francisco, California, close to a year surrogacy.”
is praying that this child will ago, to begin the surrogacy process. According to top surrogacy clinics in
eventually deliver her family
a better future. Stroking her swollen
Like them, many desperate couples
from Singapore to Switzerland, as well as
Ahmedabad and Mumbai, the number of
surrogacy cases has soared over the last
son will also have an
belly, the 34-year-old is as excited as any
expecting mother, except the baby she is
Indians living abroad, are flocking to India
with revived hopes of finally being able
five years.
While there are no firm statistics
carrying is not exactly hers. to have a child of their own, drawn by the recorded, doctors say, around 500 to 600
When surrogate mother Meena gives attractive combination of highly-qualified surrogate babies could be born throughout the recruitment of the surrogate, her
birth in Anand’s Akanksha Infertility doctors, a flexible legal framework and low the world each year, with around 200 pregnancy, to the final delivery.
Clinic, the newborn will be passed on costs. coming from India. This figure could be as low as a
to its biological parents – a childless India’s average surrogacy success rate quarter of what it would cost in the United
American couple. Fulfilling a dream is 37.9 percent — for every 100 surrogacy States or Europe.
Surrogacy refers to the process attempts, about 38 babies are born.
in which a woman gets artificially John and Sue Lee, both 37-year-old Currently, experts estimate the
Korean-Americans, have been trying for a industry to be worth US$445 million, with
impregnated, and after delivery the baby
is returned to the commissioning parents. baby for the last seven years to no avail. around 3,000 clinics across India offering Despite being hailed as a beacon
In India, the surrogate mother gets paid Desperate after failing seven Intra- surrogacy services. of hope by many surrogate mothers
for her gestational services. Uterine Insemination (IUI) and three Intended parents are charged around and commissioning parents, surrogacy
A successful delivery will make In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) attempts, the US$20,000 for the entire surrogacy remains a controversial issue in India.
Meena Rs250,000 (S$7,444) richer, an couple decided to turn to surrogacy as a process – from initial consultation to In 2008, the media reported the case

page 06 page 07

of Baby Manji, a child born to an Indian assurance it offers to all the stakeholders borne by the couple or individual seeking
surrogate hired by a Japanese couple of surrogacy. surrogacy”.
It states that a surrogate baby will be It adds: “The surrogate mother may 02
through Dr Nayna Patel’s Akanksha
Infertility Clinic. recognised as the legitimate child of the also receive monetary compensation from
Manji’s parents, father Ikufumi commissioning couple even if they divorce the couple or individual, as the case may
Yamada, 46, and ex-wife Yuki, 42, or become separated, with the child’s birth
certificate carrying both genetic parents’
be, for agreeing to act as such surrogate.” Most people think
divorced shortly before birth, resulting in
the baby getting caught in a legal tussle for
months as Indian law prohibits single men
The draft Bill also makes it
Underpaid? very badly of
to adopt.
Neither Yuki nor the surrogate
compulsory for foreigners seeking
surrogacy services in India to provide
There is currently no standard amount
that surrogate mothers receive as payment
surrogacy. They
mother wanted to take custody of whom documentary proof that they would be for renting out their wombs. This has led think it means to
01 sleep with other
men. So I don’t tell
my relatives and
the exact terms of her clinic’s consent relatives and friends. Rotunda Fertility Clinic has handled the
forms – which intended parents and “It took Madame (Dr Patel) time surrogacy cases of 15 same-sex couples
surrogates say are largely about payment to explain to Haresh what exactly is (none from India) that he says form 10 to
01 and the surrogate mother renouncing her surrogacy. But he has been with me all 20 percentof his clientele.
G K Mawani and his wife right to the baby. this while, following the procedure, and he “Ethically, I don’t think there’s
Rama celebrate their son But Dr Patel claims they are translated doesn’t mind now.” anything wrong. Same-sex couples have
Jay’s birthday in Surat, into the surrogate mother’s native Like Meena, many surrogate mothers their rights to a child too. It is hard not to
Gujarat. Jay was born language and explained what each clause are recruited by word-of-mouth. Still, the be moved by their genuine desire to have a
through a surrogate from means before she puts pen to paper. supply usually cannot keep up with the child,” he said.
Dr Bavishi’s clinic in
The 49-year-old doctor was also quick demand, because practices like Akanksha Legally, there is also nothing to stop
02 to dispel any doubts as to whether her usually follow a stringent checklist before gay or lesbian couples from approaching
A surrogate mother carries surrogates will hand over the babies when matchmaking intended parents with a Dr Allahbadia to employ a surrogate’s
her child near Akanksha. they are due. surrogate mother. services in India.
“Many surrogate mothers regard Dr Patel said: “Say, a childless couple However, if the draft bill is passed
it not as ‘handing over’ the baby, but as comes through my door and the wife without amendment, the long queues
Indian newspaper The Times of India able to bring the baby back to their home to debate about whether the surrogates’ that proceed directly to clinics such as
‘giving back’ the baby, as the child was wants a baby so bad, but she has a missing
dubbed as the country’s “first surrogate country. interest is adequately looked after. Akanksha or Rotunda could be a thing of
never theirs to keep,” she explained. uterus, how can I reject this couple?”
orphan”. Another key clause rules that intended In some instances, surrogate mothers the past.
Meena echoed Dr Patel’s views: “I “But if a woman says she wants a
Baby Manji was finally allowed to leave parents seeking surrogacy through receive payouts as low as Rs25,000, India’s new draft rules stipulate that
don’t think I will have any harsh feelings surrogate to help her carry a baby because
the country only after the Supreme Court assisted reproductive technology (such according to the National Commission for couples like John and Sue that require a
about returning the baby to their true she doesn’t want the pregnancy to affect
granted custody to Emiko Yamada, the as IVF), and the surrogate mother, “shall Women, an NGO based in New Delhi. surrogate mother will have to approach
parents. I might feel sad, but I know the her work or her figure, I won’t even
child’s 75-year-old grandmother. enter into a surrogacy agreement which Mumbai-based journalist Deepa surrogacy agencies instead of going
baby does not belong to me. I will move on consider. There are more needful couples
Hence, this unique case also set a shall be legally enforceable”. Suryanarayanan said: “We are concerned. straight to an infertility specialist.
and be happy again because both parties to help.”
precedent in Indian courts deeming Once the law is enacted in Does the surrogate mother in India, a While the proposed changes could
will benefit.”
commercial surrogacy to be legal. parliament, a committee of experts, Non- woman who usually receives little or no help to boost the surrogacy industry in
Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and education, really know what is stated in the Same-sex
Nothing dishonourable India by providing an explicit set of rules
Shaken Up fertility clinicians will also have the right forms before signing them? and regulations, it may also spell the end
to inspect and regulate clinics that offer “Having lived in poverty all her Dr Patel also added that, due to
While Meena’s husband understands personal convictions, she does not of Dr Patel’s booming business if she is
However, the surrogacy industry surrogacy, said Dr Ajesh Desai, director life, would she know whether she is not allowed to keep her personal pool of
that “there is nothing dishonourable in entertain any same-sex couples requesting
could still be shaken up by the upcoming of Gujarat’s State Institute of Health and underpaid?” surrogate mothers anymore.
surrogacy”, there are many in the for surrogacy.
Assisted Reproductive Technology Family Welfare. A quick survey of the surrogate “The law is the law, I will not go
conservative Indian society that still However, the commercial, and by now
(Regulation) Bill & Rules, which doctors Dr Gautam Allahbadia, a member of mothers’ “rates” in Akanksha’s wards against it. A doctor will always put the
regard the practice as taboo. global, nature of surrogacy has ensured
hope would be passed at the next the drafting committee, said: “All the grey is telling. A Brahmin surrogate will get welfare of the patients as priority,” Dr
She said: “Most people think very that there are those who will welcome
parliamentary session. zones in infertility treatment will become Rs300,000, while a lower-caste woman Patel said.
badly of surrogacy. They think it means these clients.
The main highlight of the new black and white.” can only look forward to about half that
to sleep with other men. So I don’t tell my Based in Mumbai, Dr Allahbadia’s
regulation, according to experts, is the On the surrogate’s end, the Bill also amount.
proposes that all of her expenses shall “be Dr Patel remains tight-lipped about

page 08 page 09
SURROGACY 7 Eastern Europe
MAP OF THE WORLD - Russia and Ukraine are the only European
countries where surrogacy is fully legalised.
- Foreign couples are allowed to pursue surrogacy
arrangements in both countries.


North America
- An estimated 25,000 surrogate
babies were born in the US from
1976 to 2007. 3
- A typical payment for a surrogate
ranges between US$20,000
(S$30,782) to US$25,000.
- States that allow but regulate
surrogacy: California, Arkansas,
Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New
Hampshire, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
- Commercial surrogacy in Canada 4
has been illegal since 2004, although
altruistic surrogacy is allowed. Southeast Asia
- Unclear laws regulating assisted
reproductive services make Thailand,
Malaysia and Philippines the go-
to places for foreigners seeking
2 Western Europe surrogacy services in this part of the
- All forms of surrogacy are banned in
- Although surrogacy is legal in the UK, no commercial
arrangements are allowed and the surrogate mother can
3 South Asia Singapore.
only receive expenses – in thousands of pounds through - When the Indian parliament passes
the Surrogacy Arrangement Act – for medical and the Assisted Reproductive Technology
pregnancy related expenses. (Regulation) Bill & Rules, 2008, surrogate 5 East Asia
- Most women become surrogate mothers for altruistic mothers may receive money for carrying
reasons. Only married couples can participate in a the child and all their expenses are paid - In Japan, there is no law to regulate surrogate births. Medical councils such
surrogacy agreement. during pregnancy. as The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology as well as the Science
Council of Japan have called for surrogacy to be banned.
6 Oceania
- Countries in the European Union that bans all forms of - The surrogate mother is bound by law to
surrogacy: Germany, Sweden, Norway and Italy. - In 2008, it is reported that more than 100 Japanese couples have used - In Australia, the state of Queensland bans all
give up rights to the child, and the child’s
surrogates to have children in the United States. Meanwhile, a law to regulate forms of surrogacy.
birth certificate will have the names of his/
surrogacy is being studied. - In other Australian states: Victoria, the
her genetic parents.
- Last year, media reported on a 61-year-old Japanese woman who became a Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and
- Single parents can also have a child
surrogate mother to her own grandchild – possibly the oldest surrogate mother South Australia commercial surrogacy is
through a surrogate mother.
in Japan. prohibited, except altruistic surrogacy.
- All foreigners renting a womb in India
- Gestational surrogacy is banned in China. - Commercialised surrogacy is banned in
will require documentary proof from their
New Zealand.
embassy that the child is accepted in the
country of his/her genetic parents.
page 10 page 11
Hansha also has to provide for her
15-year-old little sister and ailing father
Hansha works 14-hour shifts as a nurse at the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in Anand, Gujarat. She received Rs250,000 who lost his leg in a railway accident. They
after successfully delivering a surrogate child to an American couple — an amount 83 times her monthly salary. currently live in a makeshift tent along a
stretch of train tracks in the dusty town
of Nadiad, some 22 kilometres away from

Hansha’s flat in Anand.
“It’s very hard,” Hansha, 39, said in
her native Gujarati. “I have to take care of

my family and work also.”
Hansha works 14 hours a day, seven
days a week, taking the height and weight
of patients, measuring blood pressure and
giving injections at Anand’s Akanksha
Infertility Clinic.
OF It was through her work at the clinic
that she learned of the financial rewards in
being a surrogate.
Hansha became a surrogate mother in
SURROGACY December 2007 and delivered twins — a
boy and a girl — for a couple from the
United States. Her services earned her
Rs250,000 — almost seven years worth of
her monthly income.
For most lower-middle For many lower-middle class women
class women in India, in India, surrogacy represents an unique
surrogacy presents a opportunity to escape the sinkhole of
unique opportunity to low wages and debt. Through surrogacy,
break free of poverty, women like Hansha can earn decades
though not without worth of savings in a mere nine months.
its repercussions – “This is the fastest route to money,”
the surrogates are said Hansha.
often ostracised and Now, Hansha lives in a spartan three-
misunderstood as being room apartment with gas stoves and
“easy”. But these fluorescent ceiling lights, without having
women are unfazed to worry about the rent. She has even paid
by all the surrounding off all her debts.
controversy as they are Being able to own, rather than rent, a
driven to earn a better house is very important in India because it
living for their families. protects you from being held to ransom by
unreasonable landlords, Hansha said.

Caste discrepancy

ARNING a meagre Rs3,000 To purchase her own apartment,
(S$89) per month as a nurse, 33-year-old Deepa has also become a
Hansha struggles to make ends surrogate mother. In 2007, she rented out
meet. After spending half of her earnings her womb to an Indian couple from the
on rent for her squalid one-room flat that United States and delivered a healthy baby
is equipped with neither electricity nor boy.
gas, she barely has enough cash to keep However, the single mother was paid
her 16-year-old son in school. a higher fee as she was born into a higher
She worries constantly for her Hindu caste (Brahmin), compared to
husband — a truck driver — who earns Hansha. This is a common discrepancy in
Rs5,000 per trip transporting goods one of the most rigid class-bound societies
on long haul journeys through India’s in the world.
treacherous highways. Every time Many intended parents, especially
Hansha’s husband leaves, she said, it those of Indian descent, would choose
seems like he is saying his last goodbye. candidates based on their caste, said

page 12 page 13

Deepa. “They do not mind paying a bigger wants to be a surrogate too’.” loopholes that may lead to exploitative (S$22,921) and US$45,000, compared to “But I told myself that the baby is not
price for a higher-caste surrogate. It is a Dr Patel, whom many fertility experts practices as it is implemented without their Indian counterparts who get about mine,” she said.
religious thing also,” she said. credit for bringing India’s reproductive audits by the clinics themselves. US$6,800 on average. Such incidents do not occur in Anand,
Carrying a baby for nine months was industry to worldwide prominence, Council member of the Federation But Dr Nayna Patel passionately said Dr Patel, because she only accepts
not easy, Deepa recalled. Besides enduring oversaw the rise in Gujarati women renting of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists rebuffs these allegations. women, like Hansha and Deepa, who
labour pangs, she also had to hide her out their wombs over the past six years. Society of India, Dr H D Pai expressed his “America is a popular place for already have children of their own. What is being
swollen belly from friends and relatives. “In 2003, I could not find one concerns that surrogacy is giving India Europeans to find surrogates. Why don’t Also, surrogates have to go through
In an intensely patriarchal society, social surrogate. In 2005, I had just 18. But in bad press: “What is being projected is you say that Americans are exploiting intensive medical checkups to ensure that projected is that
stigma is a risk that all surrogates carry 2008, I have 175 surrogates with me,” said that India is a lawless market — people surrogacy,” Dr Patel said. “So I say they are physically and mentally fit.
despite the high dividends. Dr Patel. are getting exploited and foreigners are anything that is done by a rich country like Most importantly, said Dr Patel, India is a lawless
“They think very badly of this thing so Initially, doctors placed advertisements coming here to hire wombs.” America is good, but anything being done consent from the surrogates’ husbands
I don’t want to tell,” Deepa said. “Because on newspapers to recruit surrogates. “They should regulate it and fix the by India is not good?” and parents take top priority. market — people
of financial reasons, people do this. As news of this get-rich-quick scheme amounts so there will be no exploitation,” “I’m not bothered because my As a last measure against fraud, the
Otherwise no one does this.” spread, most of the applicants either said Dr Pai. conscience is clear and my surrogates contract also ensures that the fees are are getting exploited
came forth offering their services or were But Mumbai-based lawyer Amit know what I am doing,” said Dr Patel. paid in instalments, said Dr Patel, to deter
Changing attitudes introduced by others, Dr Patel said. Locals Karkhanis, an expert in medical law, said surrogate mothers from abortion. and foreigners are
who recommended healthy and financially all these fears are unfounded as surrogacy Written contract For wombs-for-rent like Hansha and
Director of Anand’s Akanksha needy women to the clinic were given a can only be good for India. “We follow the Deepa, they are happy that they saw coming here to hire
token sum in return. ICMR guidelines very strictly,” he said. through their pregnancies so that they get
Infertility Clinic, Dr Nayna Patel has
seen her fair share of people who are “A 30-year-old woman who is in need
According to Karkhanis, most
surrogate mothers are bound by contract their money. wombs.”
uneducated about surrogacy. “I have a No laws of money can sell her body and sell her to return the newborn to its intended “I am happy, I get benefit and people
surrogate’s father-in-law and his son sex. But it is better that she becomes a parents within weeks after delivery. at the other end get benefit also,” Hansha
who think that IVF is immoral and the However, critics of surrogacy lament surrogate mother. It is a decent and noble However, there have been documented said. offering surrogacy over the past five years.
surrogate has to sleep with someone else,” the lack of legislation in place to regulate way of earning money, plus you make cases in American courts of surrogates Founder of Mumbai-based fertility
she said. the sudden rise in surrogates. some poor people happy.” who refused to hand over the babies to the Urban Surrogates service provider Surrogacy India, Dr
However, as Dr Patel observes, Many describe the guidelines Many have also lambasted India for commissioning couple, citing emotional Sudhir Ajja said that the industry is
attitudes have changed and society has discharged by the Indian Council of allowing the outsourcing of wombs for attachment. Some 450 kilometres south of Anand, opening its doors wider because the
started accepting surrogacy. “Now men Medical Research (ICMR), which governs cheap. In the United States, surrogate She said: “When I had to give up the the bustling financial hub of Mumbai has detailed laws are about to be cleared
are coming to me and saying, ‘my wife commercial surrogacy, as being full of mothers receive between US$15,000 baby, I was heartbroken and I cried. seen a sharp rise in the number of clinics through the Indian parliament.

SURROGACY 101 making the baby: 1 The couple who wishes to have a child, also called the intended
parents, through the surrogate undergo IVF.

The mother’s eggs and father’s sperms are retrieved and fertilised
Not everyone’s eligible -
A childless couple is only allowed to hire a Two types 2 in the lab. Embryos are then transferred into the uterus of
the surrogate.

surrogate if the woman:
of surrogacy
— has no uterus
— has had many miscarriages
— has failed many IVF attempts 1. GESTATIONAL
3 The surrogate is given progesterone tablets for 15 days to ready her
endometrium (uterus lining). She takes this for three months.

— has genital tuberculosis or fibroids - Sperms from dad
— has a cardiac problem
— has had a liver or kidney transplant
- Eggs from mum or
donor other than
And the baby goes to...
surrogate — The genetic parents’ name will appear on the birth certificate. The surrogate

Who can be a surrogate? 2. TRADITIONAL mother will not be able to stake her claim on the child unless she proves that
the agreements made between her and the intended parents (IPs) are invalid.
- Eggs are from the — There is no legislation on surrogacy so only the Indian Contract Act is applied
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research:
surrogate mother to surrogacy cases. However, only contracts that are against public policy are
— The surrogate should not be more than 45 years old
- Surrogate’s egg is then considered invalid.
— Should test negative for HIV and Hepatitis B and C
artificially inseminated — There is no national registry on surrogacy thus far. However, a new bill regulating
— No one can be a surrogate for more than three times
with sperms from intended surrogacy (to be passed in parliament in 2009) will ensure that records will have to be
— All clinics need to ensure that the women are fit to
parent or donor kept by clinics and audits will be carried out.
carry the pregnancy

page 14 page 15

from previous page
01 Deepa, a Brahmin, gets higher payment for her gestational services than women from lower castes.
02 (Left to right) Sharen, 16, with her mother Jyostaben, 40 and siblings Joyl, 14 and Robin, 17.
The money her mother earns as a surrogate will help Sharen realize her dream of becoming a teacher;
Joyl wants to be a doctor while Robin aspires to be an engineer.
03 (Left to right) Manju, 27, Mangal, 30, Rajeshri, 25 and Rekha, 28, are all expectant surrogate
mothers with Surrogacy India, a Mumbai-based fertility service provider. They are closely monitored for the
first 15 days of pregnancy and are unable to leave the clinic.

01 03

“Surrogacy is becoming fully legalised Together with Mangal, fellow Back in Anand’s Akanksha Infertility
and the guidelines are very specific now. surrogates in Surrogacy India, Rehka, Clinic, Hansha readies a Taiwanese
Everybody is okay with doing it,” Dr Ajja 27, and Rajeshri, 24, were introduced to woman’s forearm for an injection that
said. “Initially a lot of doctors are not surrogacy by a local doctor. would help her ovulate.
willing to get involved.” “I was shocked when our local doctor She would gladly rent out her womb
With more clinics vying for customers, said that carrying another person’s child one more time, Hansha says, despite
surrogacy fees are set at a competitive rate in my stomach was possible without potential health risks and the prospect
upwards of Rs200,000. sleeping with another man other than my of having to live with fresh scars from
“This amount could buy me a small husband,” Rajeshri said in Marathi. another Caesarean section.
house in Mumbai,” said Mangal, a “I told my husband, and initially he This time, she wants to buy a house for
29-year-old widow, in her native Marathi. said no. But I was able to convince him her little sister and her disabled father and
Rent can reach up to Rs1,500 per there is nothing immoral,” Rajeshri said. move them out of their tent — a makeshift
month and Mangal, a surrogate under Dr “We won’t be able to earn this kind of house with a canvas roof supported by
Ajja’s charge, struggles each month to pay money in years.” walls built from granite bricks on one side,
her dues. “My husband brings home Rs200 a and rotting wooden A-frames on the other.
“A quarter of my salary goes towards day as a painter,” housewife Rehka said. “I would like to become a surrogate
rent. If I have my own place to stay, things “During the monsoon season, his income mother again,” Hansha said. “If a good
will be so much easier,” said Mangal, who is badly affected.” couple is willing to pay good money, I am
earns Rs6,000 a month as a police officer. “If I had a choice or other options ready to become a surrogate one more
“I have not told my employers because if to make this kind of money morally, I time.”
they knew, they would give me the sack.” wouldn’t do surrogacy,” said Rehka.
Anisha — a former surrogate mother, has used about half the money she received as a surrogate to
buy this auto-rickshaw for her husband.
page 16 14
side of the living room wall. There are no

tables in the entire house. Only plastic
chairs dot the concrete floor, which is
covered simply by plastic flooring printed
with abstract patterns.

SURROGATE The rooms are sparse. Everything
seems to be hidden behind built-in
cupboards, with neatly arranged metal-

HOUSE framed beds aligned beside them.
It is the occupants, however, that
bring this rented flat to life. For they
are no ordinary tenants — 16 pregnant
surrogates live together in this flat and for
nine months they call this flat their home.
Rented by Dr Patel, the surrogate
house is an essential part of her surrogacy

services. To the pragmatic doctor, the
OME 40 kilometres away from house gives her peace of mind: the flat is
Akanksha Infertility Clinic is the near a hospital and there is a caretaker
city of Nadiad, a rural college who monitors the surrogates round the
township where temperatures in clock. Food and housework is taken care
the summer could reach a scorching 45 of. The only catch is that they will not be
degrees. Famous for the Dharmasingh able to live with their families during the
Desai Institute of Technology and the course of their pregnancy. The children
Ayurvedic College, Nadiad attracts and husband can visit though, but only
migrants from all over India. But the during the day.
hot and dusty town has been attracting The surrogate house is a community
a different crowd in the past few years: with all the surrogates feeding off
fertility tourists from all over the world each other for support through their
have been coming to Nadiad to pay a pregnancies and the caretaker, 42-year-old
visit to a new landmark — the surrogate Niermala Oedra, is tasked to ensure that
house. they keep their chins up during their stay
Camouflaged amongst other dull at the house.
two-storey buildings like itself, the “I treat the surrogate mothers as my
surrogate house lies along a dusty main daughters and I always ask those around
road near the Western railway track that to take care of them in my absence,” said
links Ahmedabad to Mumbai. But the Oedra.
surrogate house, as most people in the “I feel sad whenever one of my
area and Anand fondly call it, is not even daughters leave the surrogate house after
a house. It is a rented second-storey flat delivery. We would get together and cry for
with four rooms and a kitchen. It has the one who leaves the house.”
electricity and constant water supply; Failure isn’t really an option for the
proper metal-framed sliding windows surrogates — they simply have too much
and curtains; and two squat toilets riding on the child growing inside them:
instead of just buckets . paying off debts, education funds, auto-
A television set sits alone in the rickshaws or a new house.
living room, with only a wall clock on an For the surrogate house is not just a
adjacent wall for company. A small white temporary hostel for surrogate mothers, it
ceramic sink juts out awkwardly by the is a transition to a whole new life.

page 24 page 25
01 02 05


03 04
07 08


01 Lata, 33, sits on her bed at 03/04 Everyday meals are 05 The surrogates congregate to 07 Mariaben, 34, in deep prayer. 08 An intended parent checks 10 The surrogates wave goodbye to
the Nadiad surrogate house. Nearly prepared by a cook that has been pray in front of an altar where framed With her baby due in a week, she up on her surrogate. Some intended the intended parents who are making
eight months pregnant, she said she specially hired for the surrogates but images of Sikh gurus, Hindu gods worries about the delivery but is parents decide to make the trip to their way back to Anand after their
had no problems settling into her the women often pitch in themselves, and Jesus Christ lean against the confident that Dr Nayna Patel would Nadiad to visit the surrogates before short visit to the surrogate house.
temporary home. whipping up their favourite dishes. back of the wall on the floor. be able to deliver the twin babies making the final decision to pursue
she is carrying successfully to its surrogacy.
02 Children are a common sight at 06 There are a total of four rooms intended parents — a childless
the surrogate house. Husbands and at the surrogate house, which can South Indian couple. 09 Surrogates are normally
children are not allowed to live at the accommodate around 20 women. expected to hand over the newborn to
house due to space constraints but The entire house is sparsely its parents immediately after delivery
they may visit during the day. decorated, and all the surrogates but many end up taking care of the
sleep on metal-framed single beds. baby a couple of weeks after giving
One of the surrogates said that she birth.
did not know how beds felt like until
she came to the surrogate house.

page 30 page 31