The Times of India carried the following article on Surrogacy by Gay Couples in India.
BUNDLE OF JOY: Brad Fister with his child, Ashton, in Hyderabad on Thursday
US gay couple rents a womb in Hyderabad
City Woman Delivers Baby For Rs 4 Lakh
Roli Srivastava | TNN
Hyderabad: At an upmarket ethnic wear store in Banjara Hills, US citizen Brad Fister (29) carefully cradled his 22-day-old baby who carries his genes but is ‘made’ at a clinic in Hyderabad. On Thursday, 24 hours before he leaves for Kentucky, US, where he lives with his same-sex partner Michael, Fister said he was happy he was leaving India with ‘his’ daughter.
Fister and Michael, who owns a computer firm, spent an amount of $60,000 to get this child, are the first among a bunch of gay couples who are coming to Hyderabad seeking surrogate mothers to carry babies for them. In fact, Fister’s daughter, who he has named Ashton, is the first surrogate child case of an American couple handled by the US Consulate in Hyderabad.
Fister had come to Hyderabad last year when he donated his sperm which was fused with an egg donated by an Indian egg donor. The resultant embryo was then implanted in a surrogate mother and this entire procedure was carried out at a citybased infertility centre, a first such case (of two dads) for them. The child was delivered by the surrogate mother on January 28 and Fister says the baby girl is his reflection with his “chin and lips’’. The surrogate mother got paid Rs 4 lakh for carrying the baby, the going rate for rented wombs in the city. The presence of international clients in the surrogacy industry in Hyderabad, say industry insiders, have led to higher rates for surrogate mothers. Rates, they say, have doubled over the last few months. Of the total Rs 4-4.5 lakh charged for the surrogate mother, the woman who delivers the child gets Rs 2.5 lakh and another one lakh is earmarked for her diet and comfort during the ninemonth period. The remaining amount of Rs 50,000 goes to the registered medical practitioner who would get the surrogate mother. Surrogacy, a $500 mn biz Hyderabad.
While questions are being raised on how ethical surrogacy is, it is an established business in the country with its worth reportedly pegged at around $500 million.
For those like US citizen Brad Fister, surrogacy is a boon. An interior designer, Fister says he always wanted a baby but adoption norms in the US are difficult. He made his first visit to India on January 25, 2009 after watching an Oprah Winfrey Show episode on surrogacy which featured Dr Naina Patel of an infertility clinic in Anand. She was, predictably, their first choice “But, Dr Patel declined because we are gay couple,’’ said Fister. He then came to Hyderabad, to Kiran Infertility Centre, through one of the many agencies that have come up to help such couples, both gay and straight, with surrogate mother deals. Of these, Surrogate Abroad Inc. that offers people based out of the US an end-to-end surrogacy service in India, clicked.The couple had already spent $ 20,000 in their quest for a child in the US and the promise of having an escort in India to facilitate their journey through the dusty streets leading to infertility clinics seemed good. For many couples, India is also a safe haven given that commercial surrogacy was legalised in 2002. Besides, the country has an additional advantage of the biological mother not staking claim to the child.
But if half the battle was about a pregnancy clicking, the remaining half was about getting the paperwork in place. Fister, for instance, underwent a DNA test along with his daughter at the US Consulate, for the child’s birth certificate. This was followed by an interview at the Foreign Registration Office at Purani Haveli for the child’s visa. At this point even the surrogate mother was also interviewed and her consent taken.
Benhur Samson, a native of Hyderabad and now based out of Chicago, is the CEO of Surrogate Abroad Inc, and has handled 26 cases so far. He says that a lot of people were going back from India disappointed, with nobody to finetune their search for a good clinic or even their stay here. And this is where he steps in. The flourishing business aside, legal eagles like G R Hari, partner, Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, Chennai, say that several surrogacy cases have landed in various courts and legal opinion should be taken before any international couples take a womb on rent in India.