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Assisted Reproduction

Horrific New Allegations About Surrogacy In India: Child Not Genetically Related To American Couple

Earlier today a colleague of mine passed along this press release that can be found on Reuters. Because it was impossible to verify, I withheld publishing it until I was able to get independent confirmation of the underlying circumstances.

Here is the meaningful quote from the press release issued by Crystal Travis, owner of World of Surrogacy.com:

Ms. Smith says, “my baby was born by surrogacy in India and is now caught in legal limbo. I was misled by doctors in India, thinking my husband’s sperm was being used. Only after the birth did we learn that there was no genetic connection.” India regulations mandate that the surrogate child have one of the parents DNA to obtain an exit Visa from India. In Ms. Smith’s case, she was able to secretly take her child out of India to Africa where she has family. To date she has yet to get necessary visa approval from India to bring her baby home to the US.

The backstory, as it has been related to me, is that a married New Jersey couple (Smith is the pseudonym being used to protect the identity of the parents and child) retained the services of an IVF facility in Delhi to implant their embryos into a gestational carrier. Similar to the Canadian case we previously blogged about, the couple learned that their baby was not genetically related to either of them (it is unclear whether donor eggs were intended to be used). Rather than place the child in an orphanage as had been recommended, the New Jersey couple has been fighting for custody of the child. Currently the baby is in an African country while this American couple seeks to adopt the child.

There are clearly a lot more questions than answers now but one has to wonder if this horrific situation was the catalyst for the recently promulgated Guidelines issued by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. We will update this story once we have been able to verify the other allegations.


12 comments for “Horrific New Allegations About Surrogacy In India: Child Not Genetically Related To American Couple”

  • This is so very sad. I wish we could say that this was the first time we ever heard of anything like this happening, but is seems to be a repeat situation.

    Is anyone else horrified by the suggestion that the child be placed in an orphanage? I would (obviously) be furious with the clinic, but I still would want to bring my child home and cannot even imagine the possibility of him/her languishing in a foreign orphanage.

  • Anon

    I wonder if the couple in question gave permission for your source to tell their story? I would think any publicity would need to be clearly thought out due to the detrimental risks it could cause. No doubt the story is awful but I am concerned for the family affected that the “press release” was more for your source’s fame gain and not so much about the family itself.

    • That is a very fair question Anon. So you know, the Reuters statement came to my attention first. I elected at that time not to post anything until I was able to verify not only the accuracy of the allegations but that Ms. Travis was in fact acting as an agent on behalf of the couple and was authorized to share these details publicly. It was only once I was able to corroborate both issues that we posted about this couple’s plight.

      • Disgusted

        As Ms Travis is acting as an agent of this couple, she will know which clinic is involved. My hope would be that her intentions of “outing” this couple’s story is to warn of the pitfalls of unscrupulous clinics in India, but I suspect her actions are aimed more at terrifying potential clients of Indian surrogacy clinics and therefore employing her service so as to avoid such pitfalls. Her business model focuses on the terrible so she can act as white knight and supreme protector of poor unsuspecting Americans. Andrew, did you speak with this couple yourself, or just take the word of Ms Travis that this story is true?

        • Disgusted,

          I did not take the word of Ms. Travis as I never spoke to her. As mentioned, this story was independently verified.

          While you may smell a rat, this is not an isolated case as this situation has happened before in India. I do not need to speculate as to Ms. Travis’ motives to know that while many people have had positive experiences in India, many others have not. There are many unscrupulous clinics and agencies and the better informed you are, the less likely you are to be victimized.

          • Disgusted

            How exactly did you independently verify this then?

          • Disgusted

            Again, exactly how did you verify the validity of this story? The only way to do that is to speak with the family directly, or to view their DNA tests. Please provide some proof Andrew as to how you know this story is worth publicising on your blog.

  • Kathryn Cosgrove

    I wish I could write I am shocked but I am not. We organised an egg donor from South AFrica to go to a fertility clinic in New Delhi. The doctor did not do one single thing we asked them to. They put three embyros back into the surrogate, only ICSI half the eggs so huge attrition rate. Plus they did not freeze any remaining embyros of which there were 5. The surrogate did not get pregnant and when I spoke up about what had happened to warn others we were threatened with all manner of things. I was not quiet and I will never be quiet. To take infertile people down is the lowest of the low. We were told that the remaining six embyros we had were disguarded but were they? We will never know. Do not go to India to do surrogacy. And especially go no where near New Delhi especially Phoenix Hospital or a Dr Shivani Gour. I really feel for this couple – my heart goes out to them.

  • Disgusted

    Further , I smell a rat with this story:

    “India regulations mandate that the surrogate child have one of the parents DNA to obtain an exit Visa from India.”

    Indian regulations do not mandate this, US Government requires this to give citizenship, surely Ms Travis and the elusive Mr and Mrs Smith would know this too being so carefully guided in their surrogacy journey by Ms Travis.

    “In Ms. Smith’s case, she was able to secretly take her child out of India to Africa where she has family.

    And exactly how did she get her baby out of India with no citizenship and therefore no passport or exit visa? Hidden in Ms Travis’ luggage perhaps? If this baby – if, indeed it exists – is floating around somewhere in Africa, it must have been given citizenship of an African country – which would most likely require a DNA test and genetic link to either Mr Smith or Mrs Smith – or perhaps “Africa” doesn’t require a DNA test. That aside, if the baby is in Africa and has citizenship or an African country, and the parents want to return to USA, then surely they can apply to US Embassy from said African country and go back to USA.

    To date she has yet to get necessary visa approval from India to bring her baby home to the US.

    Why do they need approval from India (I assume they mean US Embassy in India as India Govt does not give the approval … ) when the baby is in Africa.

    …and why is the story called baby trafficking? A completely different issue.

    WAY too many holes in this story, which as another poster above suggests may be concocted by Ms Travis for her 15 minutes of fame.

  • struggling to make this work

    My wife and I are currently stuck in a fiasco with Mrs. Travis and the World of Surrogacy outfit she runs. we were led to believe her by the numerous articles written a bout her in a positive light but I am beginning to question all of it. How can I see this original press release? How do I find out if others have had trouble with her? Sorry, I’m a bit lost at this point and reaching out as best I can to get more info.

  • This happens all the time with Indian clinics, right up to 2015, there are many cases that sadly various Embassies have to deal with to make the decision around Citizenship, whilst new parents face horror and trauma of DNA mismatch results.

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