Surrogacy Today

At a purely spiritual level, how very messed-up and complicated must be the Karma between the adoptive parents and the surrogate mother and the baby, asks RUBY LILAOWALA.

I recently saw a documentary film, titled, ‘Womb On Rent’, which portrayed the emotional journey of a surrogate mother from India. Right from the day she signs a bond that puts her womb on rent, through her nine months of bonded labour. The film shows the travails of a woman from the economically weaker section of society who obviously agrees to become a surrogate mother for money; the risks she takes and her travails through the nine months. Let me make it clear that though she signs some bonds, the law in our country is not at all clear on various aspects of surrogacy.

Dr. Gautam Allahbadia, a medical director specializing in IVF, says: “One in five couples globally have difficulty in conceding a baby, and the number of couples seeking medical help to have a family has risen dramatically.” Our lifestyle, stress levels and diet all play a role in couples not being able to have a baby. More women, than ever work in offices and factories than ever before, and for economic reasons choose to delay starting a family until established in their careers. This leads to fertility problems. However advances in medical treatments make it possible for many more couples with fertility problem to conceive a baby.

Over the last few years, surrogacy has become a viable option, with a lot of people including Shah Rukh Khan, Amir Khan and others using surrogates to complete their families. Yet, surrogacy remains one of the least talked-about tools in the struggle with infertility. Some people do not understand what exactly surrogacy is and come out with ridiculous comments. Like the recent controversy involving international designer duo of Dolce and Gabbana, where one of them used the terms: “chemical children” and “synthetic babies” sparked a debate in many countries.

Celebrities took to social media to express their displeasure at the comment. People from across the world raised their voices in protest at the comment and the most telling one was one from the international film-star and performer, Madonna, who wrote: “All babies contain a soul however they come to this earth and their families. There is nothing synthetic about a soul! So, how can we dismiss IVF and surrogacy?”

There are a lot of people in this world who want to be parents, and today, technology can make it happen, whether through IVF or surrogacy. Many years back, people who could not have children would have to come to terms with it and move on or go in for adoption. The question is do you really want to experience the joys of parenthood? If you are really keen, the little soul will find its way to you – either through your womb, or someone else’s. But what if after carrying the child for nine months, the surrogate mother gets emotionally attached to it and refuses to part with the baby? Or what if the baby is born with a terrible physical or mental defect and the adoptive parents refuse to accept the child? The surrogate mother will be in a terrible dilemma. What are the legal rights of such a child?

Also, it is illegal to sell a man’s kidney as a source of income but a woman’s womb can be rented. Why? Just because it belongs to a woman? At a purely spiritual level, how very messed-up and complicated must be the Karma between the adoptive parents and the surrogate mother and the baby? Who does the baby really belong to? The giver of life or the parents who buy a baby to satisfy their parental-instincts? And if the baby has a defect at birth, how can adoptive parents refuse it and ask for another healthy surrogate mother?

Finally, how much money exchanges hands when a surrogate mother is chosen? It is very obvious from the documentary film I saw that the major share is taken by the agencies who fix this whole thing and the poor woman who delivers the child is the least paid and that too after a delay and several reminders. It is really a sad state of affairs. Of course all surrogate mothers do not necessarily go through a bad experience but unless there is a proper law and compulsory legal agreement, vetted by the State or some Medical Council, the chances of surrogate mothers receiving a poor deal are definitely high.