SurrogacyIndia’s focus is in fertility, not infertility. Making babies, is possible. ‘Possible’ is what we believe in.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Do not stop foreigners from accessing surrogacy in India

Do not stop foreigners from accessing surrogacy in India and Allow Surrogacy for all without Discrimination

To Shri J.P Nadda

Honourable Health Minister

Government of India


We the undersigned are patients from India and abroad/Doctors/Advocates/ART Banks/Surrogate mothers and Egg donors from all over India request you not to ban Foreigners from accessing surrogacy in India. It has come to our notice from various media publications and also from the ICMR website that the health Ministry proposes to regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology clinics and allow only Indian passport holders to have a baby through Surrogacy

This news which is being splashed across print and Electronic media in India and Abroad has led to a panic like situation with intended Parents,their surrogates and clinics left in a state of confusion and panic whilst the proposed Bill is still open for Public debate

Sir,  for centuries India has been Known as the Cradle of civilization and over the past few year India has proudly developed into a focal point for reproductive care, particularly gestational surrogacy. Surrogacy happens when a woman agrees to gestate a child for another couple or individual. There are various reasons behind why a woman is unable to bear a child, due to uterine cancer, absence of a uterus, miscarriages, hysterectomy (uterus removal), medical problems etc. It has been practiced in India for years, with a very developed infrastructure of clinics, agencies, hospitals and embryologists all participating. There are thousands of successful cases of happy families from Indian and Abroad who have benefitted due to developments in reproductive medicines and because of the skill and Expertise of the Indian medical professionals.

Sir we believe that Surrogacy and ART treatments should be allowed for people from all across the globe without discrimination. Banning a medical boon like Surrogacy will not only affect Infertile couples from having a baby but will also stop a sizeable number of tourists from coming to India as patients who come for Surrogacy/IVF come along with their families  and go sightseeing across India and this contributes to the economy by helping the Hotel industry, Airline Industry, Automobile Industry etc as some patients stay a stretch of anywhere between 30 to 90 days in India whilst they wait for their respective countries to provide travel documents for their new borns.

Even The women and child development (WCD) ministry of India has proposed to the health ministry to allow Surrogacy to everyone, including unmarried couples and those in live-in relationships etc. In its comments sent to the health ministry on the proposed Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) bill, 2013, the ministry has opined that surrogacy should be allowed for everyone, irrespective of marriage. According to the definition of "couple" (as stated by health ministry) , the WCD has suggested that the definition of "couple should include everyone who wants to avail Assisted Reproductive Technologies and surrogacy, irrespective of marriage."

Sir if India has to emerge as an economic and social super power it has to be Inclusive and not discriminate against foreigners especially when India is their biggest hope for having their own genetic baby.  Hundreds of Affording Indians go abroad for organ transplant procedures and similarly Hundreds of foreigners look to India for affordable medical care including surrogacy.Imagine how we would feel when we would be stopped from going abroad for highly specialised Medical care which sometimes may not be available in India.

Surrogacy has always been in the news thanks to the NGO’s and vested media interests in India and abroad and it is extremely disappointing to hear the often repeated and unsubstantiated argument of  Indian women  being exploited by foreigners, the truth is that this argument is being used by anti-surrogacy groups who are against Assisted reproduction technologies like IVF and Surrogacy. Contrary to popular perception,foreigners do not come to India solely because it is cheap, they come here because of the Professionalism, skill and expertise of the Medical professionals,lawyers and the love and commitment from the Surrogate mothers and Egg donors.
Surrogacy is empowering for Indian Women and it must be encouraged by passing tighter regulations but banning in this era of right to Information and transparency is not the answer as it will only take the practice underground into the hands of unscrupulous elements

 Sir -Our Beloved PM works tirelessly to improve the Indian Economy and bring in Tourism and Foreign Investment and your Slogan “MAKE IN INDIA” has caught attention all over the world and  on the other hand it is saddening to learn that the Health Ministry is thinking of preventing Medical tourism and revenue from entering India by stopping foreigners and single Men and women from accessing reproductive treatments in India.

Thousands of Professionals, patients, Surrogate mothers and Egg donors involved in this field plead with you not to take away their Right to Reproduce and their constitutional right to work.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

For exporting of Gametes or Embryos out of India.

We received this email from ​​​​Surrogacy Advocacy Abroad and we request all our patients to look into it.

We write to you as
​​​​Surrogacy Advocacy Abroad. Our aim is to start a class action (working in conjunction with your good selves), bringing a case in hopes that the Courts will look on parents and potential parents who are suffering due to the recent changes and the consequences of Government authorities going against in kind of due process or diligence.

We (SAA) has engaged a Lawyer and will file (2) actions

(1)    Against the ICMR
(2)    Protecting the Embryo’s

To act in the manner the ICMR have is an actionable wrong as much as any action by such public servants following ICMR letter such as the Indian Embassies cancelling medical visas based on the ICMR letter for which the aggrieved person can seek damages for all the physical, mental, emotional, psychological, loss and sufferings caused to him or her.  It has been suggested by our lawyer that “we could also include clinics on the financial impact this will have on their business livelihood”

We also ask the Court, in the event foreigners are banned from India, to be access surrogacy and complete sibling projects with their current genetic material stored in India, further that the Court makes a subsequent order for a grace period to allow the opportunity of families to complete.

We write to you today as we need your help to identify any current or  past clients “all clients even same sex ”that have genetic material (sperm or embryo’s) stored in India”, who trusted India to realise a family or those who are wishing to complete sibling project in India. An estimation of client numbers from each clinic would be helpful as we can include that estimate as possible IP that could be part of our petition. We seek your support in encouraging all clients to join.

We would ask that you share the following with your client group as a matter of urgency

For the clients to be part of our Class Action to be able to access and use their genetic material in India, they need to email: advising that they wish to participate in the Class Action, and the Country they reside, we do not need to know their clinic details. As part of this action, they will be required to contribute $150.00 towards the class actions cost. Payments can be made through this link: to

We believe that the Courts will look on an action taken by potential parents more favourably and with sympathy. If successful, we believe that the courts will only allow such those named in the petition to have the grace period, rather than this being generalised to all IP’s.

Any further contributions would be gratefully revived. If we exceed our numbers we are also happy to contribute our surplus funds to any legal action focus on saving surrogacy in India.

For more information on SAA please visit our website www,

If you require any additional information please don’t hesitate to contact me

Warmest Regards

Kylie Gower

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Complete Ban on Surrogacy for Foreigners

This post is in reference to the attached letter that we have received from ICMR, the governing body for ART Clinics and Banks in India.

It clearly is restricting Indian single parents, and any foreign parent to undergo surrogacy. It has come as a surprise to us and in a very short notice. We are sorry, but we are unable to move ahead without the ICMR consent. We do understand that you have invested into the surrogacy program, surrogate mother, embryo formation or storage. From our experience with ICMR, what ICMR means is that we cannot do any more embryo transfer in to surrogate mothers.

There is a case pending in the Supreme Court and we will keep you updated on the case, if things change. But for now, we are unable to proceed ahead.

Please note, in all following situations: a) whether your visa is approved, b) you are in India, c) your embryos are with us, d) you have successfully registered with FRRO, e) your egg donor is ready for egg pick up, f) you are undergoing stimulation, we cannot do embryo transfer to the surrogate mother.

If you are already pregnant, you will be exempted. You will be able to come to India, and take the child back.
We are sorry that India is closing down, but this is as it is.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Good Results From IVF Egg Donors Over Age 35

Results of in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles using eggs from older donors are as good as those using eggs from younger women, a new study finds.

Because egg quality declines with age, most IVF centers only accept eggs from donors younger than 35, says Resolve, the National Infertility Association, based in McLean, Va.

But Canadian researchers found that pregnancy and live birth rates from IVF cycles using eggs donated by women over 35 were comparable to those using eggs from women younger than 35.

Relaxing donor age restrictions could make more eggs available to infertile couples, especially in countries like Canada, which prohibits payments to egg donors, experts say.

"Extending the limit of acceptable donor age could make the process easier for Canadian patients with friends or family over 35 who want to donate eggs to them, and also expand the pool of altruistic donors who want to help patients unknown to them," said Dr. Rebecca Sokol, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"In the United States, a greater willingness to work with older donors could also help patients who prefer to work with a relative or friend as donor," Sokol said in an association news release.

The study, conducted by Dr. Tal Shavit and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, looked at more than 400 IVF cycles done with donor eggs -- 345 from women younger than 35 and 83 from donors older than 35.

The older donors were given higher doses of hormonal drugs and produced fewer egg cells. The researchers found, however, that pregnancy and live birth rates involving the older egg donors were not significantly different from those using eggs from younger women.

The study's findings were scheduled for presentation Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Baltimore. The research was also published online simultaneously in the journal Fertility and Sterility.


Affluent Chinese hiring surrogate mothers in U.S.

After giving birth as a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple four months ago, Terry is now matched with another Chinese couple, in Canada, and waiting for her medical appointment.

"It's really a good thing to do," said Terry, who asked that only her first name be used. Terry said she was even learning Chinese now from her Chinese colleagues at Extraordinary Conceptions, a Carlsbad, California-based agency that offers surrogate parenting services, where Terry works as a medical records clerk. Terry also has a child of her own.

At Extraordinary Conceptions, surrogacy mothers are usually women age 21 to 39 who have at least one child. They are paid $30,000 to $50,000 for carrying a child.

The agency now has 60 percent of its business from China and seven Chinese-speaking employees have been hired to deal with the surging interest from the country.

"I've been going to China for the last four years and have worked with hundreds of Chinese couples," said Mario Caballero, executive director of Extraordinary Conceptions. "I go to China every three months, meeting clients and middle agents, and visiting IVF (in-vitro fertilization) centers in China."

He said he started having more Chinese clients when words spread out. "You can come to the U.S. to have a baby; you can be a single person or an older person. All of this has been communicated by media back to China, so people decided that they could have a family when they thought they could not," said Caballero.

As China's law forbids surrogacy service and the government periodically cracks down on the underground surrogacy market, more Chinese couples are looking to overseas agencies.

It usually costs from 800,000 yuan to 1.1 million yuan (about $125,790 to $172,950) to have a baby in the U.S., much more expensive than in other countries such as Thailand, India and Nepal.

"The U.S. passports", the "stability of U.S. laws", and "the highest success rate" are among the top reasons why Chinese choose American surrogacy mothers, according to Caballero.

"And many of those countries do not issue birth certificates for the babies," he added. "In California, the paperwork with the names of the intended parents is at the hospital before the baby is born, so the surrogate's name never appears on the paperwork."

Another incentive is that the child born in the U.S. is eligible for U.S. citizenship and can sponsor their parents for a "green card" on reaching the age of 21.

Although surrogacy is illegal in China, Caballero said both he and the Chinese parents do not have legal concerns "because they know they are not doing surrogacy in China".

In April, the Chinese government set up a special task force to crack down on medical organizations, medical personnel and agencies providing illegal surrogacy service. But industry insiders said local family planning commissions as well as industry and commercial bureaus do not interfere with their business as long as the surrogacy is not done in China.

It is believed that the higher demand for surrogacy from China is partly due to the rising infertility rate. A report on China's infertility released by the China Women and Children Career Development Center in 2012 finds the infertility rate has increased to 12 percent in 2012 from 3 percent of 1992, which means about one in eight couples have reproductive problems.

The industry insiders said the surrogacy market will continue expanding at 30 percent a year.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Good Results From IVF Egg Donors Over Age 35

Results of in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles using eggs from older donors are as good as those using eggs from younger women, a new study finds.

Because egg quality declines with age, most IVF centers only accept eggs from donors younger than 35, says Resolve, the National Infertility Association, based in McLean, Va.

But Canadian researchers found that pregnancy and live birth rates from IVF cycles using eggs donated by women over 35 were comparable to those using eggs from women younger than 35.

Relaxing donor age restrictions could make more eggs available to infertile couples, especially in countries like Canada, which prohibits payments to egg donors, experts say.

"Extending the limit of acceptable donor age could make the process easier for Canadian patients with friends or family over 35 who want to donate eggs to them, and also expand the pool of altruistic donors who want to help patients unknown to them," said Dr. Rebecca Sokol, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

"In the United States, a greater willingness to work with older donors could also help patients who prefer to work with a relative or friend as donor," Sokol said in an association news release.

The study, conducted by Dr. Tal Shavit and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, looked at more than 400 IVF cycles done with donor eggs -- 345 from women younger than 35 and 83 from donors older than 35.

The older donors were given higher doses of hormonal drugs and produced fewer egg cells. The researchers found, however, that pregnancy and live birth rates involving the older egg donors were not significantly different from those using eggs from younger women.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Government to change surrogacy laws, single women can become surrogate mother, 23 years to be minimum age

An interesting though obscure discovery hit the headlines this month -- in the medical community at least. According to researchers at the Fundacion Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad and Stanford University, mothers who use donor eggs to have children pass some of their genetic material on to the child. Researchers suggested the findings lend weight to the idea that the womb is more than just a home to an unborn child but may actually have a "reprogramming effect on the embryo, fetus, and adult."

News outlets that picked up on the story hailed it as offering "new hope" to otherwise infertile women. But while the findings would certainly represent a breakthrough in our understanding of how a fetus develops -- and perhaps in the process alter our perception of fertility treatments and surrogacy -- do we risk missing the real point about what family is?

True, the revelation that infertile women can still have biological input into the genetics of their offspring is a positive for fertility clinic clients. In the past, donor eggs have been a notoriously difficult sell to prospective mothers thinking about fertility treatment because they want to have biological offspring. Indeed, fertility clinic websites frequently recognize the "grieving" process that accompanies the realization that a woman's native eggs are no longer viable.

It is therefore easy to understand why the results of this study, which show how so-called MicroRNAs that are secreted in the womb can augment the genetic information of the child, have been presented as "good news" for infertile couples using donor eggs.

So far, there has been little to no discussion of how this new revelation affects the legal rights and biological destiny of surrogates that have been contracted to carry the offspring of other couples. Of course, this study focuses on those using donor eggs, rather than surrogates carrying the biological children of others. Yet the implications for those involved in surrogacy -- both intended parents and gestational carriers -- has been overlooked. (The fertility industry is hardly likely to want to publicize the idea that surrogates contribute to the genetic code -- it doesn't want to displace the idea that surrogates are simply vessels.)

But what is perhaps most interesting about the way the results of the study have been presented is the idea, intrinsic to the fertility industry and prevalent in society at large, that "authentic parenthood" is biological parenthood. Having a genetic stake in an unborn child, even one that is currently gestating in the womb, is seen by many as somehow "better" than not. In the nature-versus-nurture debate, there is no doubt that nature is the winner.

This view should change.

The reality is that family today is not simply about biology. In fact, it rarely ever has been. Among the elite of the Roman world, for example, adoption was often privileged even above biological procreation. And although Julius Caesar had a biological child with Cleopatra, it was his adopted son, Octavian, who was understood to be his legal heir. Issues of inheritance and legal status outweighed genetics. Back in 18th- and 19th-century India, court eunuchs created networks of kinship among themselves and their servants through formal ceremonies and rites of symbolic naming.

The inability to prove paternity was actually a fact of life throughout most of human history. This in part explains the widespread cultural anxieties regarding female virginity and fidelity. But it also means that until the modern era, the very concept of "parenthood" was not, and could not be, exclusively or even primarily biological. Families have always been built on more than genetics. And yet too often today we maintain the illusion that kinship somehow comes down to a biological fact rather than social realities.

There is no better evidence of the power of this illusion than the selective treatment of this latest study -- and how the awkward issue of surrogates having a genetic impact on a fetus is being overlooked in favor of reassuring those who might be seeking fertility treatment. This is despite this new evidence clearly complicating the picture of surrogates as "just" vessels or uterine nannies.

Clearly, surrogates need to be fully informed and counseled about the fact that they are contributing to the genetics of the children they are carrying. But it isn't just surrogates who should be having this conversation -- these findings raise important questions for all of us.

That we are willing to treat this story as relevant only to couples using donor eggs is evidence of the way in which we, as a culture, read the science of family quite selectively.

Kinship is about more than the genetic relationship of parent to child. This latest research is a reminder of what we should really be talking about.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Proposal to legalise surrogacy in Iceland

Iceland’s Health Minister is proposing lifting Iceland’s current ban on surrogacy by artificial insemination.

Minister for Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson has moved a draft parliamentary bill which would allow childless individuals and couples to seek the services of a surrogate mother.

The new legislation would apply equally to men and women, regardless of their marital status and sexuality.

“This proposal increases opportunities for men in Iceland particularly,” reads the text, “as they will now have the right to find a surrogate mother to have a child.”

The bill also bans anonymous sex-cell donation in order to safeguard the child’s right to find out where they come from.

Discussions on the issue have been based on an estimated demand for surrogacy of some ten cases per year, but since surrogacy has until now been illegal there may be hidden, accumulated extra demand.


Future of surrogacy legislation

The government has committed to introduce legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and gamete donation following a November 2014 Supreme Court decision on surrogacy. The Supreme Court ruled that a genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate is not entitled to be registered as their legal mother on the birth certificates.

The case had been appealed by the state from a March 5 2013 High Court decision, in which the High Court ruled that the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate was entitled to be recognised as their legal mother. The High Court found that motherhood is based on genetic links. The chief registrar of births, deaths and marriages had originally refused to enter the genetic mother's details on the birth certificates of twins born to a surrogate.

In the Supreme Court appeal, the state argued that the High Court decision had 'massive' implications that would affect mothers who bore children using donated eggs, regarding the children's citizenship and succession rights.

The Supreme Court decided by a six-to-one majority to allow the appeal. A variety of approaches were taken by the judges as to how they reached their conclusions. However, a common theme through all seven judgments was the observation that this area lacks legislation. Chief Justice Denham acknowledged that there was a lacuna in the law, which had arisen from radical developments in assisted human reproduction. The Supreme Court signalled clearly that it is for the Oireachtas to determine policy and introduce legislation in this area.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision, the government committed to introduce legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and gamete donation and the cabinet has now authorised the Department of Health to prepare this legislation. The department will draft the heads of the bill before inviting submissions from interested parties as part of a public consultation process. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children will also be invited to hold public hearings on the matter and subject the draft to scrutiny. The draft will include proposals for a regulator to promote patient safety and good clinical practice in assisted human reproduction.

The urgent need for legislation was demonstrated in a recent High Court decision where a woman – whose child was born through a surrogacy arrangement – lost her legal challenge over a refusal to pay her maternity benefits. She claimed that the state's refusal to pay her maternity leave allowance because she did not bear the child amounted to unlawful discrimination. Justice Iseult O'Malley found that the Equal Status Act cannot be used to "fill the gap" caused by the ongoing absence of legislation regarding surrogate births.

While the legality of surrogacy varies from country to country, much of the European Union favours a restrictive approach, either banning surrogacy entirely or allowing for it in only limited and closely regulated circumstances. It is hoped that this legislation will end the regulatory vacuum in Ireland regarding this complex area.


8 Things You Never Knew About Surrogacy

Surrogacy is nothing like a Lifetime movie. There’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes before a baby is placed in the arms of loving parents who couldn’t conceive.

The practice of surrogacy is still rare, partially because we have a huge surrogate shortage in the U.S. “There are many international patients coming from countries where surrogacy is illegal to the U.S. to use surrogates,” says Dr. Shahin Ghadir, fertility specialist at the Southern California Reproductive Center, which is only making our shortage worse.

That’s probably why it’s so hard to find reliable information about being a surrogate — it’s hard to make heads or tails of what’s going on, in no small part because parents don’t often come out and talk about such a personal decision. The Counsel for Responsible Genetics confirmed in 2008 that there are no set surrogacy statistics available to the public, meaning there’s no way to know exactly how many children have been born via surrogate. Modern Family Surrogacy Center says that an average of nine babies may be born to surrogates in each state in the U.S. every year. But considering how many celebrities announce the arrival of babies born thanks to a surrogate each year (Jimmy Fallon, Giuliana Rancic and Ellen Pompeo are just a few), the number seems to be even higher.

Certainly the demand for surrogacy is high — possibly even more so now that same-sex marriage has been legalized — but the process still isn’t easy. Surrogacy laws are complex at best, with serious problems arising in international surrogacy cases that have made headlines. Close to half of the states in the U.S. don’t have clear surrogacy laws established.

The only way to make sense of this mess and help the couples so desperate to start a family is by clearing up misinformation. If you have ever thought of being a surrogate, or if you are in need of a surrogate, here’s what you’re not being told.

1. There are different kinds of surrogacy

This brings us back to the made-for-TV-movie scenario, where surrogacy is presented as a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s not the case. Staci Swiderski, co-founder ofFamily Source Consultants and surrogate user, says there is a distinct difference between a traditional and gestational surrogate. “One of the most common misconceptions that I often hear about being a surrogate is that she will be genetically-related to the child. Traditional surrogates utilize their own genetics (i.e., their own eggs), while gestational surrogacy… sees the embryo created with either the intended mother’s genetics or an egg donor; or in some circumstances, a donated embryo could be utilized,” says Swiderski.

2. The screening process is intense

Getting approved as a surrogate requires so much more than completing an online quiz. Sarah Harris, two-time surrogate and blogger at Oven Rental, says her first venture into surrogacy was far more complicated than she anticipated. Harris tellsSheKnows: “When I first decided to become a surrogate, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I just knew I wanted to do something for a family that could not do it for themselves. I began looking online for surrogacy agencies, and while there are quite a few out there, one stuck out for me.”

She continues, “I filled out their initial online questionnaire via their website. It was 10 pages long, asking questions, like: ‘How old are you, how many kids do you have and why do you want to do this?’ Then, questions like: 'How do you feel about selective reduction or terminating a pregnancy due to a chromosome abnormality such as Down syndrome or trisomy 18?’ I was six months pregnant with my daughter when I applied and was pre-approved. When my daughter was a year old (the wait was due to breastfeeding), it was time for the matching process.”

3. You don’t have to be young

It’s common knowledge that a woman’s fertility begins to decline at 35, but this may not hurt your chances of being a surrogate. Dr. Ghadir says this “magic number” does not apply to a surrogate since she is not donating her eggs. “As long as the surrogate is in good health, she can continue doing this up until the late 30s, even 39 years of age,” says Dr. Ghadir.


Surrogacy gives hope to childless couples

On July 28, 2014, Andrea Muehlhaus underwent a C-section and gave birth to Dylan, a dark-haired baby boy, at Saddleback Memorial-Laguna Hills. The newborn took his first breath at 8:20 a.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. He was perfectly healthy, with 10 fingers and 10 toes.

After the delivery and recovery, the baby went home with his fathers – Robbie Cronrod and Allen Artcliff-Cronrod, a married couple from Los Angeles. Since their first date, they had talked about wanting children, and Muehlhaus had given them that chance.

Muehlhaus lives in Westminster and has two children of her own, ages 10 and 6. She gave birth to a little boy for another gay couple three years ago. “I wanted to give back in some way, and for me personally, I wanted to help gay couples because they can’t have a child on their own,” Muehlhaus said. “They need someone else and I felt like I could be that person who could help them create their family.”

Muehlhaus is not genetically related to either of the surrogate children she carried. As a gestational surrogate, she was implanted with an embryo through in vitro fertilization. The egg was harvested from an egg donor and fertilized through one of the fathers’ sperm.

A traditional surrogate is a woman who is artificially inseminated with a father’s sperm, then carries the child to term. She uses her own egg and is the child’s genetic mother. The couple seeking and using a surrogate are known as the “intended parents.”

Now a surrogate program coordinator at West Coast Surrogacy in Irvine, Muehlhaus matches surrogates to intended parents and guides them through the process. Her most recent surrogacy was handled independently before she started working there. Surrogacy agencies usually process commercial surrogacy cases in which a woman is paid to carry a child. West Coast Surrogacy coordinated 46 births last year and works solely with gestational surrogacy.

“It’s safer for everyone involved,” said Tyler Zion, the intended-parent coordinator at West Coast Surrogacy. “It can get real complicated if the surrogate is genetically the mother. It can put everyone in a position they don’t want to be in. Traditional surrogacy is not commonly practiced. It’s real challenging to give up a genetic child.”

The surrogacy process can take 15 to 18 months from wait time until birth, Zion said. After the surrogate is matched with intended parents, both parties meet in person. It’s kind of like dating, Zion said. If they hit it off, a surrogate agreement is signed. The surrogate undergoes an extensive health screening, ultrasound, background check and psychological testing for both her and her husband or partner.

After the screening process, the surrogate starts taking IVF medication until the embryo transfer. At West Coast Surrogacy, the intended parents are usually involved during every phase along with a case manager.

“Parents who come to us, they have been through everything from A to Z to find out that surrogacy is the last resort to have their own biological child,” Zion said.

He adds that many couples who come to West Coast Surrogacy have suffered multiple miscarriages, serious illnesses and years of infertility.

Surrogate requirements
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which provides guidelines to intended parents, surrogates and surrogacy agencies, recommends that gestational carriers be at least 21 and have delivered a child previously. The carrier should have no more than five previous vaginal deliveries and two previous cesarean deliveries.

Most of the surrogates at West Coast Surrogacy are in their early to mid-30s. Older surrogate pregnancies can have an increased chance of complications and risk. Zion said it is important for a surrogate to have given birth and raised a child of her own so that the feeling of loss is minimal and she has a family to return to after giving birth.

Expenses and compensation
Not only can surrogacy be emotionally taxing, the financial cost is significant. Juli Dean, director of Coastal Surrogacy in Newport Beach, said she prepares her clients to spend about $100,000 to $150,000, which covers agency fees, medical costs, health insurance, legal fees and surrogacy compensation.

At Coastal Surrogacy, surrogate base compensation starts at $28,000 plus an allowance for housekeeping, maternity clothing, psychological support and other expenses. Compensation is given for embryo transfer, positive pregnancy, confirmation of heartbeat and other medical milestones. The total compensation adds up to $40,000 to $52,000.

The base pay for first-time surrogates at West Coast Surrogacy starts at $35,000 plus additional compensation similar to that at Coastal Surrogacy. Overall, West Coast Surrogacy benefits’ package rounds out at about $45,000.

Matching and legal issues
Under California law, the intended parents and the surrogate must have their own independent legal counsel before signing the surrogate agreement. A law that went into effect in California in January mandates that a surrogacy contract must spell out how the surrogate’s health care is being paid for (e.g., what insurance policy will cover the pregnancy and delivery, and who is paying the premiums).

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s guidelines for patients state that “legal contracts, in addition to delineating financial obligations, may include details regarding the expected behavior of the (surrogate) to ensure a healthy pregnancy, prenatal diagnostic tests, and agreements regarding fetal reduction or abortion in the event of multiple pregnancies or the presence of fetal anomalies.”

During the matching process at West Coast Surrogacy, the surrogate’s and intended parents’ personal beliefs are taken into account.

A surrogate may need to decide whether she would work with parents who might choose to terminate a pregnancy if the embryo has genetic or medical defects.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, the parents want that option (to terminate the pregnancy),” said Zion.

“The couples have likely endured many miscarriages, and that has brought them here. It is a very expensive process and a lot of them want that option to start again.”

Zion adds that the number of intended parents looking for surrogates outweighs the number of surrogates available. At any given time around 20-30 parents are waiting for a surrogate match at West Coast Surrogacy. The average waiting time is two to six months.

Before the third trimester, Dean advises her Coastal Surrogacy clients to complete the legal confirmation of parental rights.

In the case of an early pregnancy or complications, legal preparations are made in advance so there is no confusion after the birth about the identity of the parents.

“The court system in California used to treat surrogacy like adoption,” said Dean. “Now everything is done pre-birth. The intended parents are legally the parents. Everything plays out the same way in the hospital as it would if the intended parents were giving birth.”

A lifelong bond
At Saddleback Memorial, the Women’s Hospital includes a surrogate bonding room where intended parents can stay and care for their newborn during labor and recovery. Terri Deeds, director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Saddleback Memorial, said the private room is outfitted with two sleeping chairs and a private shower and bath. She adds that families travel from all around the world to deliver via surrogate at Saddleback Memorial.

Still illegal in some countries, such as Australia, commercial surrogacy is becoming less stigmatized in California, Dean said. As celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Neil Patrick Harris create families through surrogacy, the practice has become more widely understood.

“A few years ago, our surrogates would get the weirdest responses when they told people they were carrying a child for someone else,” said Dean. “I don’t think that happens so much anymore. There is a lot of positivity for it. People are amazed and in awe of our surrogates and their willingness to (carry a child) for someone.”

Today, Muehlhaus remains close to the families she has helped form through surrogacy. She attends birthday parties and regularly receives updates on their lives.

She said surrogacy changed her life. “During my second time around, the parents attended all of the obstetrician appointments, and I got to see the excitement in their eyes and hear it in their voices when they talked,” said Muehlhaus. “You are helping them achieve something and bring this baby into the world. It’s really special.”


How To Make a Baby, Hyperintentionally

As an antidote to the spectacle of the intolerant and self-righteous Kim Davis refusing to validate the marriage licenses of people who love each other, I highly recommend Josh Gamson’s deeply moving and smart new book, Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship. Gamson, an eminent media sociologist and married gay father of two, follows people who desperately want kids but can’t biologically produce them, as they work to conceive their children and their families. His goal is simple: to destigmatize these families, especially given how much effort and care go into what he calls “hyperintentional” family formation. He also seeks to dramatically expand the term “reproductive freedom” to include the heroic efforts people go to, against barriers and discrimination, to make families.

What is so deft about Modern Families is the ease with which Gamson weaves together individual stories about creating families with academic research about the process, from single parenthood to gay parenting to reproductive technologies.

He begins with the convoluted journey he and his husband took to bring their first daughter into the world. Gamson had, from childhood, always imagined he’d be a dad. When he came to terms with his sexual identity, he assumed that could never happen. Yet he could not let his desire for children go. And so an exploration began. A close female friend did not want children but did want to experience pregnancy. Another woman donated her eggs. Gamson and his husband could provide the sperm. Out of this kinship group came a child.

Gamson is part of a network of pretty amazing people who have created deliberately unconventional families against all odds, and he describes the often heart-wrenching emotional and technological lengths they had to go to. There are moments in all these accounts that will bring you to tears. The stories he tells involve adoption, the use of surrogates and in vitro fertilization. They feature gay and straight and transgender parents as well as single, coupled and multi-parent families. Some entail going halfway around the world to adopt a child, and Gamson is keenly sensitive to the “global stratification system in which the United States remained dominant, always a receiver and not a sender of adoptive children.”

His subjects are alike in one way: They are all apparently middle- to upper-middle-class. Gamson, a sociologist, is quick to emphasize that even though his subjects may have been marginalized because of their sexuality, their class privilege, financial resources and social networks enabled them to create their families in a way that people of lesser means simply cannot. He is also sensitive to the weird, gender-based dynamics at play in a realm where a gay man is seen as deficient because he cannot carry a baby and a woman as privileged because she can—but her reproductive capacity can also be exploited through surrogacy or coercive adoption practices. He writes with palpable discomfort about an egg-donor and surrogacy industry in which men like him are advised to get eggs from smart, blue-eyed college girls and then plant the embryo into the wombs of lower-middle-class women—whose eggs you are advised you don’t want, but whose uteruses you do.

Gamson is a great storyteller, and this matters, because unconventional families need to have compelling origin stories when their children ask, “Where did I come from?” or are asked, “Why don’t you have a mom?” or “Why do you have two?” or “If you don’t have a mom, how did you get born?” Such stories have politics, Gamson reminds us, because they are a direct challenge to the faux “family values” nuclear family discourse, which is actually not the norm anymore, if it ever was.

Two strong themes, often in tension, dominate this inspiring book. One is how expensive, inequitable and at times repellant the whole assisted reproduction industry can be, leading some, like Gamson, to explore and find satisfying (if complicated) workarounds, like friendship-based surrogacy or multi-parent parenting. The other, though, is what this very same industry can make possible: newfound, love-filled families who, in their increased visibility and obvious joy, slowly but surely break down the mean-spirited barriers the likes of Kim Davis want to impose on others who simply want to share and celebrate their love.


‘The Bold and the Beautiful' Spoilers For Week Oct. 12: Are Nicole & Zende Planning A Baby?

Zende and Nicole question the seriousness of their relationship in the next series episodes of "The Bold and the Beautiful" (BB) for Oct. 12- 16. Nicole will face a confusing decision about her sister's request for a baby as it could mean giving up on her relationship with Zende. Meanwhile, Ridge is not backing down when it comes to sending his son Thomas away from Forrester Creations and away from Caroline.

Rick and Maya want to start a family of their own. Unfortunately, Maya is unable to bear a child. However, she tells Rick that she would love any child they would bring up together even if the baby doesn't have their genes. So they initially plan to adopt. However, Maya comes up with another idea about the baby that involves Nicole. According to Soap Opera Story, Nicole gets caught in her sister's plan to become a surrogate. But agreeing with Maya would mean sacrificing her relationship with Zende.

At first Rick is confused but when Maya explains that they could have a baby who is part Forrester and part Avant, he finally understood that Maya was referring to Nicole. Maya and Nicole get into an emotional conversation, where Nicole is ask to become a surrogate mother. Maya tells her sister that she may be too young to be a mother and that she still has her whole life ahead of her, but being her surrogate would be an "ultimate gift." Nicole is shocked and confused as she has also has to think of her career and her relationship with Zende.

Nicole has her reservations about becoming Maya's surrogate. First is her job at Forrester Creations. She's reportedly still an intern and thinks she can't handle the pregnancy. Likewise, there's her relationship with Zende.

During their first date, Nicole brings up Maya's surrogate request to Zende. He is not pleased at all and questions Nicole about what happens to their relationship if she agrees. According to Soap She Knows, they would disagree about the surrogacy since it would mean Nicole having to let go of Zende. Moreover, it could reportedly also give Thomas his way with Nicole and becoming the baby's father.

But if Ridge sticks to his plan about letting Thomas leave Los Angeles for good then Zende has nothing to worry about. However, Ridge's actions will have Steffy and Brooke speculating on the real reason behind Thomas' exit from Forrester Creations. Meanwhile, Nicole's decision about the surrogacy will have Maya seeking professional help.


Gay couple seeks help from U.S. officials in surrogacy case

A Florida man and his husband continue to urge U.S. officials to support their efforts to leave Thailand with their infant daughter, even though the woman who gave birth to her objects to the fact they are a same-sex couple.

The Bangkok Post reported that Gordon “Bud” Lake and Manuel Santos Valero on Oct. 8 submitted more than 160,000 signatures they collected through their petition to Secretary of State John Kerry and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha to the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

Lake told the Washington Blade in a previous interview that he met the surrogate mother in person for the first time before she gave birth to his daughter, Carmen Santos Lake, at a Bangkok hospital on Jan. 17.

Lake said he visited the surrogate mother in the hospital with his son Álvaro, who was born through a surrogate in India in 2013, after his daughter was born. Lake told the Blade that his husband, who is from Spain, did not accompany him.

Lake said the surrogate — who is not his daughter’s biological mother — agreed to list him on her birth certificate as her father. He told the Blade during the same interview that the surrogate also signed a consent form that allowed him to take her from the hospital.

Lake said he found out a few weeks later that the surrogate objected to the fact he and his husband are a same-sex couple and “weren’t an ordinary family.”

The embassy has issued a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or CRBA — which certifies a child who was born overseas is an American citizen at the time of their birth. Officials have yet to issue a U.S. passport for Lake’s daughter because the surrogate mother — her legal guardian under Thai law — has not given her consent.

“Carmen is an American citizen but we are not able to leave although it is obviously in Carmen´s best interest,” reads Lake’s petition. “We hate to say it, but as far as we know the United States has done next to nothing to help us.”

“While the embassy will answer emails and requests for meetings, there has been little moral support and we are made to feel more like a problem to them than American citizens in a horrible situation that needs to be resolved,” it adds.

A new law that outlaws surrogacy for foreigners in Thailand took effect in July.

The Thai government over the weekend did not respond to the Blade’s request for comment.

Niles Cole, spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, told the Blade on Oct. 9 that U.S. authorities have “urged” Thai authorities to “grandfather in essential surrogacy cases and resolve the outstanding ones.”

Cole told the Blade that embassy officials have also worked with Lake to document his daughter’s U.S. citizenship. Cole said U.S. law nevertheless prevents the United States from issuing an American passport to a “U.S. citizen minor absent the legal consent of the guardian or the legally recognized guardian.”

“The protection of U.S. citizens abroad is always one of our top priorities,” Cole told the Blade. “That’s what we focus on. That’s what we try to provide to U.S. citizens. In this particular case we provided all possible consular assistance that we can.”

“The real challenge again is the absent permission from the guardian,” he added. “[Without it] the U.S. government is unable to issue a passport.”


Beware of corrupt egg donor agencies

Young women are being cautioned to do their homework when answering the call to donate their eggs.

This follows incidents in which South African women responded to advertisements promising all-expenses paid overseas holidays during which they will donate their eggs. The adverts are posted by South African donor ‘agents’ that connect the women with doctors overseas.

Unfortunately a number of these young women have returned home with serious health complications – mostly due to overstimulation caused by the incorrect administration of hormone medicines.

Cape Town fertility psychologist, Lizanne van Waart said; “Donated eggs are a source of hope for many infertile couples and women who donate their eggs to childless couples are among our silent philanthropists. However, the great need for donor eggs has fostered an illegal international market in which childless couples are prepared to pay for eggs.”

International law prohibits payment for any live human matter and this includes human eggs and sperm. As the procedure for harvesting eggs is time-consuming and of some discomfort, donors are generally reimbursed for their time and all associated medical bills. Clinics may not pay for the eggs they harvest and they also may not charge infertile couples for the eggs that they have donated to them.

Van Waart, who together with her husband Dr Johannes van Waart, own Wijnland Fertility Clinic in Cape Town, said that young women should avoid travelling overseas to donate their eggs.

“Falling ill in a far-off country is bad enough but the complications arising from hyper-stimulation or infection can be life-threatening. What’s more the lines can become blurred in terms of a patient’s legal status and questions may arise about whether the cost of medical care will be covered by the donor’s medical cover whilst out of the country and after having put themselves at risk.”

“In the case of egg donors who become ill due to improper medical care or unprofessional procedures, there is a lot of fear about the physical side effects. Patients that I see after such incidents worry about whether they have suffered physical damage resulting in their being unable to conceive their own baby one day and fears arise about where their donated eggs will end up. Deep regret emerges and sometimes the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder present themselves,” she said.

Van Waart also advised that anyone wishing to donate their eggs or sperm should be provided with counselling around the legal and emotional implications of doing so.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Woman unable to carry children asks her mother, 48, to be a surrogate

'It was as if we had a connection': Woman unable to carry children asks her mother, 48, to be a surrogate - then BOTH of them get morning sickness during the pregnancy

  • Julie Jakupek gave birth to her granddaughter, Liara Jewls
  • Julie's daughter, Kylie Jakupek, was unable to fall pregnant on her own
  • Kylie was born with MRKH syndrome which left her without a uterus 
  • She was unable to have her own child using her mum as a surrogate
  • An embryo was made using Kylie's egg and her partner Josh's sperm
  • It took four tries for Julie to fall pregnant
  • When she suffered from morning sickness, Kylie said she felt it too  

When Julie Jakupek started getting morning sickness during pregnancy her daughter, Kylie, shared her pain.

Despite not being pregnant herself, Kylie, 33, experienced the same symptoms as her mother, symptoms that left her 'stunned'.

Julie was pregnant with her fifth child, but unlike her previously pregnancies, the baby she carried was not her own.

The Victorian woman, 52, had agreed to be a surrogate for her daughter Kylie, who was born without a uterus, leaving her unable to bear her own children, she told that's life magazine.

Kylie learned she could not fall pregnant when she was 16 years old.

The teen had yet to have a period, and scans revealed she suffered from a rare condition known as MRKH syndrome.

Despite having ovaries in working order she was born without a uterus, and would be unable to carry a child.

The news left Kylie devastated, but before she had even left the doctor's office her mum offered to be a surrogate.

But Julie was already 34 years old and the doctor said by the time Kylie was ready for a child, she would be too old to carry a baby.

'I tried to come to terms with the fact I'd probably never be a mum,' Kylie said.

More than 10 years later Kylie was in a long-term relationship with her partner Josh, now 32.

When they first met she was honest about her condition and gave him the option to leave.

But love prevailed, and Kylie asked her then 48-year-old mother if she would still be willing to be their surrogate.

'There was never any hesitation in my mind about doing this for Kylie,' Julie said.

A week later they visited a fertility specialist and began the process of making embryos using Kylie's eggs and Josh's sperm.

To ensure she was ready to carry a baby, Julie underwent rounds of fertility treatment before the first embryo was implanted via transfer in May 2013.

The transfer, the two that followed, were unsuccessful.

'While doctors had warned us it might not work, it was still devastating,' Kylie said.

'I knew mum blamed herself and I felt like I was on a constant emotional roller-coaster.'

On her fourth and final try, Julie fell pregnant.

At 20 weeks, Kylie and Josh found out they were having a girl, and when Julie went in to labour, they stood by her side in the delivery room.

When Liara Jewls - named after Julie - was born, Josh cut the umbilical cord and Kylie stayed with her mother as she was moved in to the recovery ward and adjusted to her new role as a mother.

Due to surrogacy laws, Josh and Kylie were not legally Liara's parents until she was four months old.

Julie said she was 'besotted' with Liara and she was happy to bring Kylie and Josh happiness.

'I'd happily be a surrogate for them again,' she said.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Happy Navratri from team SI to all

Today is first NAVRATRA. May GOD DURGA give prosperous to you and to your family. May her blessings be always with you. JAI MAATA DI. Happy Navratra!

Happy Navratri

May this Navratri be as bright as ever .
May this navratri bring joy,
Health and wealth to you

Orphaned possum treats kangaroo doll as surrogate mother

An Australian wildlife hospital said an orphaned brushtail possum is being hand-raised with the help of a stuffed kangaroo the baby animal treats as her mother.

The Taronga Wildlife Hospital, part of the Taronga Zoo, said the female joey, dubbed "Bettina" by carers, was found suffering from dehydration last month in Mosman and she is now recovering thanks to veterinarian nurse Felicity Evans and a stuffed kangaroo.

Evans said Bettina clings to the stuffed toy like a possum joey would her surrogate mother in the wild.

"At this age she would naturally still be with her mother, so the soft toy gives her something to snuggle for comfort. It's not as fluffy and woolly as an adult brushtail possum, but she clings to it using her claws and teeth as she would do with mum in the wild," Evans said.

The hospital shared video on YouTube of the possum cuddling with her replacement parent.

Evans said Bettina is feeding well and will eventually be released back into the wild.

"She's feeding really well and is quite a vocal little thing. She'll sit in the spare room next to me and call out when she's ready to feed," she said.


‘The Perfect Donor’ Film and the Complexities of Commercial Egg Donation – An Interview with Medical Anthropologist Diane Tober, Ph.D.

Commercial egg donation is a growing industry around the world with varying governance and legalities by country. Many women who’ve not been able to conceive but want to experience pregnancy and childbirth turn to egg donation. It is commonly used by couples in which the woman has poor quality or no eggs, but who want a biological child using the male’s sperm, women with no ovaries but an intact uterus, women with genetic factors that they don’t want to pass on to their children and women over the age of 39. It is also utilized among same-sex couples. The first known pregnancy achieved with a donated egg occurred in 1984. Today, more than 10,000 babies have been born worldwide from donated eggs, yet there are many complexities with the process and women who donate do so at a risk to their health.

Interim Executive Editor Jessica Buchleitner spoke with Medical Anthropologist Diane Tober, Ph.D. about her forthcoming documentary “The Perfect Donor” and the complexities of the commercial egg donation industry around the world.

Jessica Buchleitner (JB): Tell us a bit about commercial egg donation in the U.S. and globally. How prevalent is it? What are the dynamics and how do the conditions vary?

Diane Tober (DT): There are about 18,000 cycles using fresh donor eggs per year in the United States. People who use donor eggs include women who are no longer fertile themselves (either due to age, premature ovarian failure, or cancer treatment), or gay couples and single men who use an egg donor and surrogate to have children.

In the United States, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has established a guideline that donors should not be paid more than $10,000 in order to avoid women doing it just for the money, which could be considered coercive—especially to lower-income women. However, in practice the amount an egg donor is paid varies widely. I have heard as low as $1000 in the U.S. to as high as $250,000 for a woman with certain characteristics. Often, women who are more attractive, have higher education, and have traits that couples consider desirable are paid more.

Also, women who are “proven donors”—that is they already have helped someone achieve a pregnancy—can ask for higher pay. In some cases, a woman who is paid $7500 for her first cycle, may be able to get over $10,000 for her second cycle if a pregnancy was achieved. Women often do this numerous times. In the U.S., ASRM guidelines state that she should do no more than six egg donation cycles, in part to limit the number of children per donor, but also due to potential health risks. In fact, many women go way beyond six cycles—especially when they’re donating at numerous different clinics, or internationally. There are no registries to track donor cycles, so there is really no way of knowing.

In other countries where paid donation is legal (like Spain) payment is capped at 1,000 euros. In the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia, paid donation is highly restricted: in some cases donors must already have children of their own, they’re paid around the equivalent of $800, and in some cases must agree to have their identity released. In Spain, anonymous donations are required. In other countries, like Germany and France, paid egg donation is not permitted.

The U.S. is a major global destination for egg donation due to the restrictions in other countries. India and Thailand also used to be major destinations for fertility treatment with egg donation and surrogacy, but recent changes in laws in both countries now ban access for same-sex couples and single people wanting children. This has led to new destinations opening up, like Cyprus and Mexico, where the costs of fertility treatment and donor eggs is much lower. The United States is the top destination for fertility travel for people who can afford it. And Spain is the top European destination for heterosexual couples. However, Spain also does not currently permit surrogacy, so gay couples from Spain typically go to the U.S. for egg donation and surrogacy.

People from all around the world—Japan, China, Dubai, Europe, Africa, and so on—come here for women’s eggs. Egg donors (I actually like to call them “egg providers” since they are not really donating if they’re getting paid) also travel from other parts of the world to provide eggs here. So you have people traveling from all around the world—egg providers and intended parents—to go through the process here, or in other countries. Another challenge raised by all of this is the children born through surrogacy in some countries and not being recognized as citizens in the countries where their intended parents reside; this results in a number of kids being born stateless. But that is a separate issue.

JB: Why do women decide to donate? What do they receive?

DT: Women provide eggs for others for many different reasons. First, there is the financial aspect. Many college women in the U.S., for example, cannot afford the ever-increasing college tuition and other expenses, and resort to egg donation in order to support their education. I think it is atrocious in this country—with so much wealth—that some women feel they have to resort to essentially selling a piece of their body in order to get an education. In Spain, where the cost of a university education is only a few hundred dollars per year, you do not see college women deciding to become egg donors like you do here. In Spain, until the economic crisis, it was primarily immigrant women who were providing eggs. Since the economic crisis, though, you now have more Spanish women providing eggs in order to meet expenses. Again, in the U.S. the price for women’s eggs varies widely. In Spain, it is capped at 1,000 euros.

Another reason is the desire to help other people create a family. Most of the women I’ve talked to really enjoy the feeling they get when they know they’ve helped someone achieve something they wanted so badly—having a child—but couldn’t do on their own. So that altruistic component is really there for most women; it’s considered a “win-win” getting paid to help someone else create a family. Most U.S. agencies and clinics also know how much it means to the egg provider to know they’re helping someone else. Often, they give the donors letters from the intended parents thanking them for their “gift”, or tell them heart-breaking stories about the intended parents (such as having had cancer, or having multiple miscarriages) that really touch the donor on a deep emotional level. When women read these letters, it’s hard for them to say “no” when there is another woman or person out there who needs their help to have a baby.

Some women decide to provide eggs to others for more personal reasons; for example, if they were a child born from sperm or egg donation, if they know someone who has experienced infertility, or in cases where they’ve had an abortion and have conflicted feelings about it. Reasons vary, but the most common are a combination of wanting to help someone else and financial need.

JB: What happens to them when they do? What is the process? What kinds of medications do they take? Are there side effects?

DT: The process varies widely between agencies and clinics. Some have a very thorough screening, and others you just fill out an online profile. Typically, first the prospective egg donor goes through a screening process, which involves filling out paperwork with health history and other information, and then usually (but not always) includes meeting with a genetic counselor, and a psychologist who screen for genetic issues and psychological red flags.

If they go through the screening, then they’re put in the database where they can be selected by prospective parents. Once chosen, the egg provider is put on oral contraceptives in order to time her cycle with either the intended mother or surrogate.

After several weeks, she starts injecting hormones in order to produce more eggs than a woman would normally produce in a cycle. Typical drugs used throughout the cycle include Gonal, Menopur, Lupron, and HCG. Different physicians have different medical protocols that they use in this process. Throughout this time, the donor visits the clinic regularly for blood tests and for vaginal ultrasounds that monitor how the eggs (follicles) are developing.

If a woman is producing too many follicles, ideally the physician should reduce the amount of medication she receives, in the interest of her health. However, some physicians use a more aggressive drug protocol than others, which can have a direct effect on a woman’s health, including increasing the risk for what’s called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Some of the women I’ve spoken to have ended up in the hospital with OHSS. OHSS includes extreme bloating, and can lead to kidney failure, collapsed lungs, and other life-threatening complications. It can also lead to the ovary twisting inside the woman’s body, requiring it to be removed.

JB: What is the demographic profile of the average intended parent? Who receives the eggs?

DT: Anyone can experience infertility, regardless of race, class, or age. But egg donation is only accessible to those who can afford it. A typical cycle using donor eggs in the U.S. can be over $30,000-$45,000 per attempt, depending upon the fees for the donor. Frozen eggs are usually less, but they don’t have the same success rates. In many other countries, the cost of an in vitro fertilization cycle using donor eggs is between $6,000-$12,000, plus travel costs. So it is usually upper middle class people who can afford this as an option to create their families.

JB: What is the long term impact of egg donation on women who donate? What are the risks they are not aware of?

DT: In India, there were several young egg donors (17 and 19) who died from OHSS. At a conference I attended recently, someone told me of a young donor in Illinois who died of OHSS last year. According to a report by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) OHSS is the number one cause of maternal death in the UK among women undergoing stimulation for their own infertility treatment.

Ideally, a woman is supposed to produce between 10 and 20 eggs per cycle. However, many women end up producing far more. Most women I’ve spoken to in my research and in my film interviews produced well over 20 mature oocytes. The highest I’ve heard in the women I’ve interviewed is 80. The greater the number of eggs, the greater the risk, because when the eggs are removed the empty follicle sacs fill up with fluid. There are different medical protocols that some doctors use to reduce OHSS risk (like using Lupron as the final shot to help release the eggs), but not all doctors use this method, and Lupron also has its own side effects.

The side effects related to all of these hormones have not been well studied. While some research demonstrates their safety; other research points to increased risk for gynecological cancers, endometriosis, and other complications like rashes and auto-immune problems. One of the donors in my film was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer at 25, within a year-and-a-half following her third donation. Another young woman and former egg donor died of colon cancer at the age of 31. Brittany Maynard was 29 when she ended her life in Oregon. She was a former egg donor and was diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer (glioblastoma).

Perhaps these are just anecdotal stories, but many of these cancers are also hormone dependent. And since the research has not yet been done to investigate the long-term impact of these drugs on women’s health, there is no way of determining a causal connection. However, we do know that with a Women’s Health Initiative study on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in menopausal women, women in the HRT group were getting cancers and strokes at a dramatically higher rate than the women not on HRT. The rates were so alarming, they ended the study. It is not too far-fetched to think that the drugs used in fertility treatment would also impact women’s health.

In addition to the risks from drugs, there are also risks involved with the procedure to remove the eggs from the donor’s body. It involves surgery under anesthesia, and although rare, I have heard of cases where women have had arteries nicked and were bleeding internally after surgery, and they had to insist that the physician admit them to the hospital to figure out what was wrong. One woman I talked to almost bled to death internally, and the doctor didn’t take her seriously when she said something was wrong.

When women are thinking about becoming donors, they are usually told the risks are “rare”, less than 1 percent. But there is really no data to base this on. There is some data in the Center for Disease Control, but this is all on women going through the same process for their own fertility treatment, and isn’t applicable to donors who are much younger, and who may be more sensitive to the medications. Also, when women do have complications they don’t always report them to the clinics, and the clinics do not always report them to the CDC, so there is really no way of knowing what the actual risks are. So far, in my research, about 35 percent of the women I’ve spoken to (out of 40 women) have had at least moderate complications. 11 percent have had serious complications like OHSS, endometriosis, infertility following donations, and cancer. We really need more research and long-term health data on women going through these drugs and procedures.

JB: In your documentary trailer, one of the women explained that her donor was offered a quarter of a million dollars for the donation. Another donor mentioned that her eggs would be “picked quickly” because she was white. Is this a form of eugenics in its own way? How could you perceive egg donation to potentially become highly specific?

DT: Well, yes, in some ways it is. When people are choosing a partner, they typically choose someone they’re attracted to, with similar education, religious, socio-economic, and ethnic backgrounds. When people choose donors, these factors also come into play. Most people want a donor who is like them, who they feel a connection with, and someone who looks like them and/or their partner. For infertile women, going through infertility treatment and failing month after month, it is a huge loss. I think many women in this situation feel like they want some semblance of control, like they can find someone like themselves, or someone like themselves but better. This loss is not the same for single men and gay couples attempting to create their families through egg donation, but I think across the board prospective parents often feel like since they’re paying so much money for this process, and to have a child in this way, that they can get very particular about their requirements for the genetic parent of their child.

Across the board, blond hair and blue-eyed women go pretty quickly. There is a high-demand for Asian donors due to some cultural taboos in many Asian communities. Most people want very intelligent or very pretty or both. So yes, there is a ranking of people monetarily based on their characteristics, and then you have the so-called “elite” donors. Also, most often, intended parents prefer someone with lighter skin. In India, for example, light-skinned donors are in high demand. Although, I have also interviewed a woman of African descent from Barbados who was popular among Caucasian couples, but she also had a medical degree and had been a model.

In Spain, where the physicians select the donor and the intended parents do not even typically see a photograph, this process is very different. Because people in the U.S. can shop around for their “Perfect Donor” it leads to this entire market where eggs become commodities with different economic value. In Spain, physicians typically look for “Spanish-looking” donors for their patients, but you do not get the same kind of tiered ranking you get here.

JB: You have commented that egg donation and reproductive travel is the next form of human trafficking. How so?

DT: I have not had the opportunity to fully investigate this yet, but I plan to. I think in many clinics around the world you have responsible physicians who care for their donors as more-or-less equal to their paying infertile patients.

However, whenever there is money involved there is also the potential for abuse. The fertility industry is a multi-billion dollar per year international industry. There is a lot of money being made in women’s eggs—on the initial donation, as well as if a woman’s eggs are frozen and then sold to other couples down the road. There is also an “after-market” of eggs being sold to researchers, at times without a woman’s consent. And the clinics collecting, freezing and banking the eggs stand to make enormous profits.

Women travel from all around the world to provide eggs in different destinations and most, probably, receive decent medical care. However, I have also heard of women being sent to other locations, for example from Romania to Cyprus, undergoing a quick surgery to remove their eggs and being put right back on the plane within hours after their surgery. If a woman has complications in this situation, she has no one she can go to. So, for example, if a woman from Romania gets OHSS after donating at a clinic in Cyprus, this does not count against that clinic’s statistics because her symptoms will not become apparent until she’s back home in Romania, where she has to be tended to in the Romanian health care system. Journalist Scott Carney has written about this in his book, “The Red Market”.

I suspect that when you start to take a look at the international landscape of women traveling to and from different countries to provide eggs in other countries, things become much more complicated. I also suspect that on the international landscape, you have women from much poorer countries being sent to other countries by the clinics or commissioning parents for the procedures. Thus what you end up having, like you do with organ donation, is poorer people being sent around to meet the needs of wealthier people, further expressing the global dynamics of wealth and poverty. However, with egg donation—because you will produce children with the characteristics of the genetic mother—there is a tendency to seek out women with fairer skin and more European traits, for the most part. With international black market in human organs, skin color and other outward traits (like eye color) are not an issue.

I have also heard a variety of scams and scandals in the U.S., India, Thailand, South Africa, and other locations, of either intended parents not getting the donor they thought they paid for, or even donors not getting paid after going through all of these really difficult procedures. So I think it’s a fine line when reproductive tourism or fertility travel crosses into the realm of egg trafficking.

India, for example, is the number one country in the world for travel for egg donation and surrogacy. Many of the women who provide eggs and wombs are poor, and from villages, and some even illiterate and not able to really understand the process or risks before undergoing the procedure.

I also have one donor who went to Thailand to donate her eggs, thinking it would be an adventure. It turned out the Thai doctor she went to at All IVF was also investigated for an international scandal with a Japanese business man who had over 17 children created through egg donation and surgery. While the scandals may not be the norm, they do point to the propensity for abuse in the current system with women being paid for their eggs. However, women also go through enormous sacrifice and risk to provide eggs for other people to create their families; who is to say that they should not be compensated for their time and trouble? It’s complicated.

JB: Are the women who donate allowed to see the babies they help produce?

DT: Sometimes the agency or clinic will let the donor know when a pregnancy or live birth is achieved. But often, the donor receives no information as to the outcome of her donation. Sometimes egg providers and intended parents are able to learn of each others’ identities; sometimes egg providers agree to have their identities released when the child reaches 18; sometimes they are completely anonymous; and sometimes intended parents and donors actually meet before the procedure. It is really on a case-by-case basis. In the East Coast of the U.S., it is much less likely that donors and intended parents will have an open donation; on the West Coast this is becoming more the norm. Internationally, because you have so many different cultures entering into this process together, and so many different laws in different countries, it really depends. I do know, though, that when donors find out about a positive pregnancy, they can be overjoyed to know that their efforts helped someone else achieve their dream of having a family. I also know that even among donors who have medical complications following the process, that finding out about the positive pregnancy or live birth can make their own sacrifice seem worthwhile.

JB: Can you give us a synopsis of “The Perfect Donor” film? What can we expect to see?

DT: “The Perfect Donor” is about how young women are recruited for the high-demand market in women’s eggs. This film takes place primarily in the U.S., and explores how women are recruited, why they decide to become donors, and what happens to them in the process. While some women are overjoyed to help others create the families of their dreams; others find that the money they made from their eggs comes at a much greater cost.

For the film, we interviewed agency recruiters, fertility physicians, genetic counselors, psychological counselors and other professionals, but the film mostly follows seven egg donors and their emotional and physical journeys through the process.

JB: What other projects do you have coming up or any other research on egg donation?

DT: Well, I’m working on a research project at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to explore egg provider decisions and experiences. For this project, I’m also collaborating with We Are Egg Donors—an online international egg donor advocacy organization. I’m also collaborating with people in the industry to help recruit donors for the research. Our goal is to not necessarily ban egg donation, but to find ways to improve the process for everyone involved—but especially for egg providers.

I’m also planning a collaborative project comparing egg donors’ experiences in the U.S. and Spain, since both countries permit paid donation, but have very different regulations surrounding the procedure. We’re hoping to secure funding to move forward with that project.

Also, aside from the film, “The Perfect Donor”, I’m in the planning stages of two other documentary films: one on international donation, called “Cycling Abroad” and another on egg freezing and the conflicts working women face when trying to balance work and family.



INSTAR is a one of a kind Organisation which includes Top Fertility Consultants, ART Banks, Embryologist, Urologists, Lawyers and others who are actively involved in IVF and Third Party Reproduction in India and abroad will be participating in this Annual Conference.

During the Conference attention will be paid to a whole range of topics like Medical, Legal, Ethical & Social Aspects in Third Party ART in India with special Emphasis on Surrogacy, with leaders in the field  sharing the latest up to date information, clarifying questions and sharing current knowledge and expertise regarding Indian and International ART with special Emphasis on Surrogacy.

According to Dr. Himanshu Bavishi who is the President of INSTAR “the Aim of the Annual INSTAR conference is to create awareness amongst the Indian public regarding  the growth in the field of Assisted Reproduction and particularly related to surrogacy and how and Why India has become the world leader in Assisted Reproduction and Fertility Tourism.

According to Dr. Rita Bakshi who is the organising Secretary for the Conference vice president of INSTAR “The conference will discuss the ICMR draft Bill for ART and will encourage participants to give their views on the changes that clinicians and others would like to see in the draft bill before it is presented in the parliament.”

According to Dr. Shivani Gaur who is Secretary INSTAR  “We need to put out the benefits that Assisted Reproduction has been able to offer to the Millions of Infertile couples from india and across the world and encourage medical Tourism.”

Dr. Samit Sekhar who is Joint Secretary INSTAR and part of the organising Committee states that “This is a coming together of some of the top minds in the field of Assisted Reproduction and this conference will go a long way in benefitting infertile couples from India and abroad because topics will include on how to make Assisted reproductive techniques like IVF and Surrogacy more affordable to the Indian Population.”

The one day annual INSTAR conference will also allow free and frank discussions between clinicians, ART Banks, Lawyers and other stake holders in the field of ART on how they can work in close co ordination with each other and Government authorities  to streamline the ART process particularly in relation to Surrogacy.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Gay Adoption Is Not Always Easy

My partner, DJ, and I had always wanted kids and a family. Despite the fact that we had an amazing life, had traveled the world and had many wonderful young children in our extended family -- we still felt as if there was a hole in our lives. Something was missing and when we saw other couples strolling their baby, playing in the park or going to Disney we quickly realized what it was. We both absolutely adored children and we knew the time was ripe for us to expand our family.

As a gay couple, we realized that we basically had three options -- surrogacy, in vitro fertilization (IVF) or adoption. We quickly ruled out IVF due to the extraordinarily high costs and no guarantee of success. We ruled out surrogacy after our only real candidate pulled out at the last minute. We finally agreed that adoption was our best option. We knew it would not be an easy task and we were prepared for a very long wait. We had done our best to cut back on our spending and had saved up enough to begin the process. Within a few weeks we had found an adoption facilitator that we liked and we were on our way.

I will never forget the exact moment when the phone rang and it was our adoption facilitator calling to inform us that we had been matched with a birth mother. After months of waiting, preparing and completing the dreaded home-study; we had finally done it. We beat the odds and had matched with a birth mother in nearly record time. We both stood in our California townhome and cried as we shared the news with our friends and family. We dreamed of holding our infant in our arms, taking her to the park and traveling to introduce our baby to our friends and family. We agreed to an open-adoption and we could not wait to meet our new adoptive family. We envisioned them being a close part of our family for the rest of our lives.

Sadly, our adoption process did not go as we had planned. In fact, for 206 of the most difficult days of my life we were subjected to manipulation, habitual lies, theft and fraud by our birth mother. She stole from us, she stole from our family, she abused her children, she lied about serious medical issues with the baby, she lied about the sex, she threatened the adoption almost daily if she did not get her way and she lied numerous times about going into labor. Our adoption experience was so extreme, that it was called one of 'the most difficult domestic adoptions' by several industry experts. While we did succeed in adopting our beautiful baby girl, it was not without repercussions. As a result of our birth mother's behavior and mental issues, it will likely take many years for both of us to overcome the severe trauma that we endured. In addition, we had to completely cut ties with her and our dreams of having an open adoption ended the day we signed the adoption paperwork.

Yet despite our horrific ordeal, we will forever be thankful to our birth mother. Not only did we overcome what seemed like insurmountable roadblocks, but we walked away with our little angel, Amelia. Words cannot describe the love that we feel for our now 11 month old little baby girl. Looking back, we would go through the entire experience again because Amelia brings so much joy and happiness to our lives. We are two of the happiest fathers in the world, and Amelia makes us smile almost constantly. We have been very active parents and we take Amelia with us everywhere we go. In less than a year of life, she has been to Florida, Santa Cruz, Cleveland, Ann Arbor and we even took her hiking in Yosemite National Park. She has brought to us a new meaning to the words 'unconditional love.' To us, being parents and having our own family is truly a dream come true.

In hindsight we realize we made too many mistakes to count in regard to our adoption. There were clear warning signs about our birth mother from the very first time we met her. We were blinded by the desire to become parents and ignored all of the 'red flags.' We so badly wanted to become Daddies that we allowed a sick individual to take over our lives with manipulation, lies and mental torture.

Our adoption experience was extreme and very rare. While nearly all adoptions are stressful and complex, most are relatively a smooth and a beautiful process. With open-adoptions, more often than not the birth mother becomes a member of the family. If I had to offer advice to other gay or straight couple's that are considering adoption it would be to simply 'do your homework.' Thoroughly vet out the adoption agency that you plan to use and ask for references. When you are matched with a birth mother, be sure you really get to know her before making a commitment. Review all of her records, get personal references and ask the agency for her background history. Speak to her several times before committing and meet her in person if that is possible. Set clear communication and financial boundaries. Finally, spend time with her and really get to know her and her family.

We hope our story will help others be better prepared for 'what can go wrong' in the adoption process. The full story plus a full chapter on adoption tips is available in my new book, Anything for Amelia.



Amanda Kriesel always looked forward to being a mother.

“I had a great mom and watched my sister Heather (Boyle) be a great mom,” Kriesel said. “I know these days a lot of people feel that you should establish yourself as a career women and not strive to be ‘just a mom,’ but that is who I am and what I wanted to do, being a wife and mother.”

Living in Iola with her husband Lucas and her two biological sons two sons, Kriesel decided to become a surrogate mother.

“It has just always been something I said was going to do,” she said. “I remember telling my husband I wanted to do this before we even started our own family.”

She went on to say that she wanted to help someone else meet their dreams of becoming a parent, just as her dreams had been met.

“I had a friend that has gone through this journey and she was able to help me into the process,” Kriesel said. “And I am working with Shirley Zager from an agency from Gurnee, Illinois area called Parenting Partners.”

According to Kriesel, Zager has also supported her efforts.

“She is an educator, writer, speaker, legislative activist and advocate,” she said. “She has done a great job educating me even more along the process.”

The road to becoming a surrogate is not an easy one.

“There is a certain level of trust you have to have,” Zager said. “You are trusting a complete stranger to grow your baby for you. It is a huge commitment of time and energy.”

“You really have to be willing to be an open book,” Kriesel added. “You need to be in good health, live a safe and healthy lifestyle, while having been able to successfully carry your own child.”

Both Kriesel and her husband filled out forms to help the program coordinators match the surrogate mother with the intended family.

Once a match was found, the process starts with the fertility clinic and medical appointments, health screenings and blood tests.

Fertility medication helped ensure that Kriesel’s body would not reject the embryos and ultrasounds were used to monitor the best time to implant.

“Our one stipulation as a couple was that we needed to work with a person who could not get pregnant verses just did not want to carry a baby,” she said. “We were matched with a family that was unable to have a child and it has been a true miracle to watch this process move forward.”

A legal team is also involved in the process.

“I have a contract with the family,” she said. “This is a very long process, but necessary one. There are things to protect the health and rights of the surrogate, the embryo, as well as the intended parents.”

The contract also includes stipulations regarding insurance, payments, court orders, genetic testing, terminations and selective reductions if needed.

“One of the biggest discussions my husband and I had to have is how many babies we were willing to carry,” she said. “With any pregnancy embryos can split and create multiples, so there needed to be an agreement and this was done with the consultations of a medical provider.”

Compromises are also made along the way.

“I had to set aside my personal opinions to meet the needs of the intended parents,” she said. “For example, I did not do any genetic testing offered around five months of pregnancy with either of my boys, but I have agreed to do it for this family.”

She added that at all cost, the life of the carrier is protected.

“I had to have medical insurance and life insurance in case something would ever happen to me to ensure that my family will be okay,” she said.

Also included in the contract is a stipulation regarding the rights to the embryo if both of the intended parents lost their lives.

“They do a really good job trying to think of everything to protect all the parties,” she said.

Kriesel is currently 18 weeks pregnant.

“I am what is called a gestational carrier/surrogate which means I am carrying a baby that is not at all genetically related to me,” she said. “In this case embryos were already created and frozen and would be transferred into my uterus.”

The transfer occurred at Institute for Human Reproduction, fertility clinic in Chicago.

“The whole transfer procedure was painless and took less than 10 minutes,” she said. “We were able to watch the whole transfer through the technology of an ultrasound. I had two embryos implanted.”

Kriesel was pregnant with twins for about seven weeks when one baby was lost due to a miscarriage.

“Extra precautions were taken to ensure I did not lose the other baby,” she said. “The next few weeks were very stressful for both families.”

She is currently working with an international couple.

“While going through the matching process we were given portfolios on the intended families and they were given ours,” she said. “This included the family story we had to complete as well as a medical records and family photos.”

Though she has not yet met the couple in person, they have talked through Skype and emails.

“Every time something happens, such as doctor’s appointments, we are in communication almost instantly, so I can keep them up to date,” she said.

Kriesel believes that the hardest part will be saying good-bye to the whole family.

“I have mentally been preparing myself for the fact that this is not my baby,” she said. “I still think it will be like saying goodbye to your good friends and their family that is moving away. I know we will stay in touch after the baby is born, because that is something that we both agreed upon in the contract.”

She has also found support in this venture from her family and friends.

“I talk pretty openly about doing this and most people’s response to me it that it does not surprise them one bit,” Kriesel said. “I know I may not do anything extraordinary or amazing in my life, but if I can do something to make someone else’s life better or more fulfilling, I will do that.”