Tag Archives: Reproductive Health

‘I will get Rs. 2 lakh to bear the child’

Article Published in The Hindu

At the first look, Radha can easily pass off as any other pregnant woman waiting to go through her regular checkups at a clinic. But a closer observation would reveal that she is a tad older than a normal pregnant woman. The man accompanying her is not her family member but an agent.

At 33, Radha, a resident of Karimnagar district, is already a mother of two teenagers and lost her husband in 2010. But again Radha is no ordinary pregnant woman. She is a surrogate mother who took up another couple’s child.

“When my husband died I was left with a debt which I could not payback. It’s impossible to get a job to repay the debt,” Radha recounts wryly. “The offer to become a surrogate mother has come at the right time. I would get Rs. 2 lakh to bear the child. They would also pay for my maintenance and medical care,” she said.

But is she aware of the risks involved in pregnancy? “I have been through two pregnancies already and I am aware of the risks. I am fortunate to retain the fertilised ovum. Four more months and I can repay the debt and get back to a normal life,” she says. She also had to undergo a hormonal therapy during the preparatory phase of the surrogacy. “The doctors have explained everything and I have accepted the risk in each stage.”

Radha shares accommodation, provided by her agent, with five other surrogate women. “My children come to visit me at times. They know what I am doing and they support me,” she claims.

(Name of the surrogate has been changed to protect identity)

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‘Qualifications’ of a surrogate mother

Article published in The Hindu

Poor, widowed, abandoned, indebted, uneducated and desperate — these are but the ideal qualifications of a surrogate mother today.

For a barren couple who cannot find a surrogate in their own circles, the womb of this underprivileged woman that is on hire, is almost sacred. And with no paucity of deprived women in the State, the couple literally have a wide ‘variety’ of women to choose from.

From a poor woman’s age, looks, background to health, the choice rests entirely on the wanting couple. That apart, the lifestyle of this woman during the ten-month-long period of surrogacy all but depends on the couples’ diktat.

And finding these women, surprisingly, is no difficult task with numerous self-appointed ‘agents’ spread across the city. Acting as a conduit between the poor surrogate, prospective parents and fertility clinics, these agents are a busy lot.

For an unemployed, abandoned or widowed woman with a family to look after, the Rs. 2 lakh offered by agents, or in certain cases clinics themselves, even for bearing another’s child is no small amount.

Wretched situation

“The situation of women who have decided to act as surrogate mothers is wretched one. While earlier only widowed women with no means of livelihood were willing, it is a different scene today,” said Seshasai, a medical practitioner.

A self-certified doctor in Dilsukhnagar, Seshasai also doubles up as an agent and counsellor helping poor woman find an income in surrogacy. “It is a shame that, because of the money involved, husbands themselves are ready to leave their wives with us for nine months to act as surrogates today,” he added.

Although married and with children these women are forced to practically live in isolation, away from their families, throughout the period of pregnancy. “Commercial surrogates are discouraged from living with their families owing to the possibility of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases and other such reasons,” said Dr. K. Anuradha of Anu Test Tube Baby Centre.

Commercial surrogates are kept in hostel accommodations maintained by agents or certain clinics themselves. Despite several issues and uncertainties involved in the process, poor women are today increasingly looking at surrogacy as a means of livelihood. “Almost nine years ago, I had to convince poor patients at my clinic about the monetary benefit of acting as a surrogate mother. Today, poor women from across the State are themselves convincing their kin to take up surrogacy for the money,” said Seshasai. And bringing in other women to act as surrogates too is not without its incentives. Every time a woman refers another to an agent for surrogacy, she receives a sum of up to Rs. 25,000, agents said.