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Surrogacy In India: A Cautionary Tale

Indian Surrogacy

Surrogacy in India has become a half-billion dollar industry. The use of Indian gestational carriers has exploded in the last few years as couples seek a lower-cost option to create their families. However, Indian surrogate arrangements can be fraught with problems and changes in the permissive India laws may be looming. Here is a recent example of a Japanese man who found himself in a very precarious situation:

Last summer, a baby girl named Manji was born to an Indian surrogate…. Surrogates are typically poor uneducated women from rural villages. Fertility clinics pay them between $4,500 and $5,000 for carrying a pregnancy, and charge their clients – many of whom come from outside the country – about twice that.

The arrangement got sticky not because the surrogate wanted to keep Manji (a common concern for those hiring a surrogate) but because the Japanese couple who were the “intended parents” had divorced. The husband still wanted to raise her, but his ex-wife did not.

The father found himself in a catch-22. India requires that a child be legally adopted before leaving the country, but bars single men from adopting. Manji’s father was denied travel documents for the baby. The situation was widely covered in Indian and global media, and grew into a legal and diplomatic crisis.

Even though Manji’s father was eventually given permission to return home to Japan with his daughter, the fallout continues. According to the Biopolitical Times, the debate in India about the appropriateness of surrogacy rages unabated as women’s rights groups and other advocacy organizations “call for more regulation and oversight, and raising questions about whether commercial surrogacy is a good idea at all.”

If you are considering using an Indian surrogacy agency, please do your research. In addition to the obvious concerns about screening, legality, quality of the medical care and your surrogate’s living conditions, you could also find yourself mired in immigration problems when you try to return home with your baby. Working with an Indian agency can save you tens of thousands of dollars, though you may end up spending far more than that in legal fees in an effort to repatriate yourself.


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