Surrogate mothers: Rent a womb and get a baby!
What is surrogacy? This method of conceiving is gaining popularity all over the world but does the booming business of surrogacy in India raise ethical concerns? A surrogate mother tells her side of the story.
Wombs for rent: that’s what they are calling surrogacy and according to a Yahoo! report, it is a booming business in India.
Surrogacy mothers are becoming more common
It might not be a common topic for dinner conversation but surrogacy is gaining prominence as a way for childless couples to have a baby that is biologically theirs. Even in Hollywood, it is becoming mainstream with celebs such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael Jackson, Elton John and Giuliana Rancic using surrogates to carry their child.
What is surrogacy?
So what is surrogacy you might ask? Surrogacy is when another woman carries and gives birth to a child for you. It can entail the surrogate mother’s uterus and eggs which have been artificially inseminated by the father. It can also be when a surrogate carries a donated embryo till birth. The embryo is usually conceived through IVF and will ensure that both parents are biologically related to the baby.
A peek into the life of surrogate mothers
The life of the surrogates are usually kept private, until now. The Surrogacy Centre India clinic in New Delhi recently opened its doors to the media, allowing a glimpse into the world of surrogacy and what it means for all those involved in the process.
The stage is set as little Lili is in Australia celebrating her first birthday with her parents, while somewhere in India, her surrogate mother sits, recounting the day she gave birth to the girl.
Seita Thapa is a mother of two teenagers aged 16 and 18 and also the surrogate mother of Lili in Australia. She recalls not even laying eyes on the baby after giving birth. She says, “I averted my gaze. Why would I want to see the child? -- I have my own children."
Watch this documentary on surrogacy in India
Surrogate mothers know it's NOT your baby
As a surrogate mother who carries a baby for nine months, surely there has to be some emotional attachment , even if the baby is not biologically yours. This is one of the difficulties that come with surrogacy mothers but Thapa adds that the Surrogacy Centre India clinic provides courses for the surrogate mothers to "prepare us mentally for the fact it's not our baby".
Surrogate mothers: Expensive business?
Commercial surrogacy is a booming business in India and the Confederation of Indian Industry, a leading business association, estimates the industry now generates more than $2 billion in revenues annually!
So why has India become the prime place for foreign couples to come and look for ‘a womb to rent’? It is mainly due to the relatively low-cost and since surrogacy is legal in India, it provides a legally simple route to become parents. It is estimated that the total cost of surrogacy in India is about $28,00 all inclusive while it can cost close to $35,000 - $50,000 in the West.
Surrogate mothers: Just a baby factory?
Yet questions have been raised with regards to the relatively unregulated industry and critics have raised concern about the issue of wealthy foreigners paying poor Indians to have babies and viewing these clinics and women as “baby factories”.
To put it into perspective, the clinic has had 291 babies being born in 2012. These babies have now made homes in Canada, Japan, Australia, Norway and Brazil.
However, the clinics have so far denied any ill-treatment of the surrogate mothers or viewing them as machines to make babies. They say that ill-treatment actually works against them as they want the women to give birth to healthy babies.
Hope for the future for surrogate mothers?
Ultimately, surrogacy provides a glimmer of hope for both the giver and receiver as Thapa says, "I wanted to be a surrogate mother because I wanted to deposit money into an account for my children for their future. I also wanted to help parents who cannot have children."
She adds that she is proud to have given birth to a beautiful baby and that "The baby and parents are in my prayers forever.”