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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Couples seek tech-savvy surrogates

Till late, it was women from under privileged backgrounds and from poor educational background who opted to rent out their wombs. Now, educated women are opting to be surrogates.

"They do it mostly for financial reasons," says Hari G Ramasubramanian, who runs Indian Surrogacy Law Centre, a legal consultancy firm in India specialising in fertility law, and also GiftLife Egg Bank. He says couples seeking surrogates prefer to work with educated women as it is easier to make them understand the legalities and they seem more committed."Recently , for an Indian client in the US, we identified a woman who could speak Hindi, English, and had access to computers as they wanted to communicate with her through Skype and email," he says.

A few surrogates, like Ashwathy*, 28, start out as egg donors. "I saw an ad in a Tamil paper and donated my egg last year, for which I was paid Rs25,000," says Ashwathy . "I then found out about surrogacy and decided to opt for they offered Rs 4 lakh plus expenses," she says and adds that she had to quit her job as a customer care executive earning Rs 7,000 a month to look after her son. "My husband works as a transport in-charge for a school and we are facing financial problems," says Ashwathy , who is saving the money she earns from surrogacy for her son.

In Anand, India's surrogacy capital, and Ahmedabad, young and educated women are renting out wombs. In Chennai, fertility expert and chairperson of Prashanth Hospital, Dr Geetha Haripriya, says the availability of educated surrogates is something that she has seen only in the last four to five years. "Women usually approach us online," she says. "But educated surrogates charge twice the money. About 10% of the commissioning parents though are willing to pay more for educated surrogates, she adds.

According to Dr Thankam Varma, medical director, Institute of Reproductive Medicine and Women's Health, Madras Medical Mission, in the last 15 years, they have hardly got three or four surrogates who are graduates. "Most have studied only till Class 6 or Class 10," she says.

Educated surrogates, who have been through the process once, say they are willing to do it again. "I took more than a year's break to be a surrogate but was able to get back to work quickly," says 32-yearold Ananya *, a surrogate, who works as a communicative trainer. For her services, apart from Rs4 lakh which she was paid, her expenses, including food and travel were met. The intended parents also paid for her accommodation and hired her a maid. "Being a surrogate helped me financially and I felt I was doing something good. I still have Rs2 lakh debt so I would do it again," says Ananya.

She admits she sometimes thinks of the baby she gave up. "I saw him when he was born. I wonder how he is doing. The other day, I thought I saw his mother and had tears in my eyes," she Ananya.


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