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


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This same-sex couple has always wanted an Indian-origin baby, but our laws make it nearly impossible for them

While the old saying may claim that love is blind, more often than not it is the society that turns a blind eye to love. Or, the kind of love they think does not ‘qualify’ as love. Adi and Michael, who got married in October 2011, are a beautiful (and handsome) same-sex couple settled in the US, who have been wanting to have a child through surrogacy in India for years, but the law of the country has barred them from doing so.

The duo had initially hoped to adopt or avail complete surrogacy in India because Adi is Indian and grew up in Mumbai. His parents and extended family all continue to live in India. “We visit nearly every year, because family is so important to both of us. Having a child in India would help us celebrate Adi's heritage and culture while the child would grow up here in USA,” says Michael Upshaw, a speech language pathologist.

Unfortunately for this couple and all same sex couples, it has now become impossible to have a child through surrogacy in India. There has been a change in the requirements for entry into India for surrogacy for foreign nationals in July 2012. The notification from MHA is here. "According to this notification, the couple must be a man and woman married atleast for a period of two years. By this notification, same sex couples holding foreign nationality cannot take up surrogacy in India at the moment. Also, the country of origin of the intended parents must provide a letter that the child born through surrogacy would be able to take the child back to their country on its birth,” says Hari G Ramasubramanian, chief consultant, Indian Surrogacy Law Centre.

Infact, India does not even have a special legislation on surrogacy yet. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill is yet to be introduced in the parliament and is still in the drafting stage. “India has closed adoption and surrogacy options for same sex marriages; we were heartbroken to learn this and will do our best to stand with people or advocates who are fighting for this cause. Despite this setback, we are dedicated to growing our family and Indian culture will remain a priority for us,” says Adi Dubash, assistant professor of Biology at Furman University.

“We have always wanted to have a child, infact we hope to be able to have two one day. Now, we have contacted an adoption lawyer here in South Carolina and hope to start the adoption or surrogacy process as soon as possible. We would love to have our child through surrogacy; however, the costs are very high and we don't have the resources at this time,” the duo adds.

The two men met in graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They combined both Christian and Zoroastrian prayers and customs in their wedding held at the chapel in Northwestern University, where they were blessed by both set of parents and relatives.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tough question

Sep 23, 2015- In the immediate aftermath of the April 25 quake, 26 newly born babies were evacuated by Israel from the disaster-stricken city of Kathmandu. The arrival of the infants—born to Indian surrogate mothers in Nepal—in Tel Aviv received extensive media coverage. Moving pictures of ecstatic same sex couples sparked an intense debate on the Israeli surrogacy law which only permits surrogacy for infertile heterosexual couples.
Soon after, there was widespread criticism   of the lopsided focus on the infants and not on the well-being of the surrogate mothers. The Attorney General of Israel, however, was quick to approve a plan to permit surrogate mothers carrying the fetuses of Israeli parents to enter the country. Meanwhile in Nepal, the entire episode came as a surprise to many.

To begin with, Nepal did not and still does not have any laws on surrogacy. But in December 2014 a Cabinet meeting decided to allow foreign couples to seek surrogacy services from foreign women in Nepal. Interestingly, this decision of the government coincided with the Indian government’s plan to present the Assisted Reproductive Technique Bill in the winter session of its Parliament. The bill was expected to further regulate India’s multi-billion dollar surrogacy industry but its legislature failed to pass it citing a lack of time. All the same, the Nepali government’s decision resulted in an influx of Indian surrogacy mothers. Reports of the exploitation of surrogate mothers along with the involvment of Nepali women soon followed. The clients are reportedly charged up to Rs 10 million for surrogacy services by the agencies that make all the arrangements, out of which the hospital receives Rs 4 million while surrogate mothers only receive Rs 300,000-400,000. Amidst all of this, last month, the Supreme Court directed the government to ban surrogacy until Nepal formulates laws on it. In response, the Cabinet decided to ban surrogacy services altogether last week.

Nepal’s tryst with surrogacy might have ended rather quickly but there are many unresolved issues. The fate of the surrogate mothers who are on their way to delivering the baby, for instance, remains unclear. The government should take the responsibility of meeting all their needs. It should also clarify its position on those women and if the infants born to them will face any legal hassles while leaving the country or not. They are, after all, the victims of the shortsightedness of the government. Furthermore, surrogacy was only permitted for foreign couples initially. The current ban, however, extends to Nepalis too. This is like throwing the baby out with the bath water as it could curtail the rights of same-sex couples and infertile heterosexual couples to have children. So, what the country needs is an extensive discourse on whether the state should allow surrogacy or not. The sudden manner in which surrogacy was first partially permitted and now banned does not do justice to this sensitive issue.


Surrogates helping more area couples expand their families

Snack time for every baby should be filled with this much love.

Little John has his mom Tara Morris with him and the woman who brought him into the world, Brooke Collawn.

“I can’t imagine not being a parent myself,” Collawn says with emotion.  “So to help others has been amazing.”

Collawn has been a surrogate for three different couples, all complete strangers at the beginning who are now bonded for life.  After having three sons with her husband and miscarrying a fourth child, Collawn decided to mend hearts for moms who couldn’t carry on their own.

“It can be a beautiful thing,” says Morris, explaining she already had son Tripp with her husband.  They desperately wanted another child, but a medication she needed to control an anxiety disorder prevented her from safely getting pregnant again.

On the very same day the Morrises explored their options with a fertility specialist and lawyer, both offices got a call from someone special who wanted to give another couple a gift.

“It was her,” Morris points to Collawn who sits next to her on the couch at her Charlottesville home.  “Through the lawyer and through the doctor’s office, it kinda came that way.”

“Yeah, we kinda felt like it was fate,” Collawn added.

Richmond surrogacy attorney Colleen Quinn recalls this relationship she helped make possible.

“Brooke Collawn is an amazing individual.”

This is just one of the arrangements she’s guided from start to finish at The Adoption and Surrogacy Law Center near Willow Lawn.

“I can easily say ten years ago I had done hundreds of surrogacy arrangements.  I can now say I’ve done thousands,” says Quinn.  “They definitely are happening at a pretty rapid rate.”

Quinn, who was working out five surrogacy contracts the day of our interview, says it is becoming more acceptable in Richmond.  What’s called compassion arrangements make up about a quarter of them.  That is when a sister or best friend carries for a woman who cannot.  The rest and overwhelming majority are matches made online, through clinics or lawyers.

“I kinda see it as long-term baby-sitting.  I know going into the process that the baby is not mine,” Collawn explains how she’s been able to carry children who would not be hers in the end.  “Just the look on the parents’ faces when you place that baby in their arms makes it all worthwhile.”

Quinn says it can take up to two years from start to baby.  The lengthy process involves a background check.  The surrogate must also be cleared by her Ob/Gyn and must pass psychological screenings.

“What is their motivation, and is it generally altruistic in nature?  Is this person going to be able to carry a child and then be able to detach?” Quinn goes down the list of questions considered.

Quinn says it is a must that both sides map out a plan together and get it in writing.  Her contracts include everything from whether some wine consumption is okay during the pregnancy to whether both sides are pro-choice or pro-life.

“How is this relationship going to process, how is it going to occur over the next year?” Quinn encourages her clients to address everything.

Quinn says a Virginia statute requires all surrogacy payments be tied to household living and medical expenses associated with the pregnancy, paid monthly over ten months.  From her experience, first-time carriers can expect about $18-25,000, but intended parents also pay all attorney fees.  Add-ons like life insurance policies, reimbursements for C-Section recovery and more are also often included in the contract.

According to Quinn, however, Virginia law is very complicated if a surrogate who uses her own egg decides she wants to keep the child.  There is no case law on point, but Quinn says it is likely the woman could get custody of the child.  The genetic father would ideally get visitation and a support obligation.  If the surrogate carries the intended parents’ fertilized egg, Quinn says it is unclear what would happen for a non-court approved contract.  It is why she recommends couples do their homework and put as much planning as possible into their arrangement.

“We do have occasional hiccups, but for the most part these arrangements if vetted well on the front end do amazingly well,” she says, noting her thousands of success stories, like the Collawn-Morris arrangement.

“Aunt Brooke,” as she is now called, is a big part of the lives of the children she carried.  She says she gained as much as she was able to give to the three couples she helped.  She is grateful for the beautiful friendships and beautiful babies she now has in her life.

Morris is too.

“She made our family complete,” she said.

Baby John turns one on Friday, September 25.  Collawn will be there for the festivities.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Beyond the womb

Gordon Lake and Manuel Santos had a strong desire to be parents. With zero odds of a pregnancy, their only hope was a Thai surrogate.

The couple's dream to have a family, unfortunately, turned out to be a nightmare when their surrogate rescinded her agreement to hand over Carmen  -- born from Lake's sperm and another woman's egg  -- to the couple. To fight for parental rights Lake, who also fathered Alvaro, a two-year-old boy born through surrogacy in India, has been in Thailand since January.

"This is the most difficult time of our entire lives," conceded Lake, a 41-year-old American, in an email interview with Life. After months of struggles in Thailand, Lake decided to launch "Bring Carmen Home", an online petition on to support him and his family to take eight-month-old Carmen back to Spain, Santos' home country. The petition has more than 120,000 supporters so far. He also set up a Facebook page where people share words of encouragement and sometimes financial aid to cover the family's legal expenses.

"We have already been in Thailand for more than eight months and this has obviously taken a toll on us in many ways  -- our family, jobs and our lives," Lake added "We have been away from our family for so long and we have had so many extra expenses We just want to be home -- all four of us together."

Even though Carmen was born from Lake's sperm, Thai law grants custody of a child to its birth mother, regardless of any biological ties.

However, recently the National Legislative Assembly enacted the Protection for Children Born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act, allowing Lake to see a dim light at the end of the tunnel. Nicknamed the "surrogacy law", the act was put into effect on July 30.

The American is not the only one who has been embroiled in a surrogacy gridlock in Thailand, a country known to many as the womb of Asia, where the baby-producing industry is worth more than 4 billion baht, according to figures from the Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing.

Set aside same-sex couples choosing surrogacy as a means to build a family, there have also been cases of people deliberately exploiting surrogacy for human trafficking such as Japanese businessman Mitsutoki Shigeta, who reportedly fathered 12 babies with Thai surrogates.

A lawyer from the Law Reform Commission of Thailand, Apichat Pongsawat, said that this newly-enforced surrogacy law is the first of its kind in the country.

"Before this, the country only relied on the Medical Council's policy when coming to terms with cases associated with reproductive technology," explained Apichat. "And the regulation only allowed couples  -- husband and wife  -- with medical issues to opt for surrogacy. The new law is quite similar in principle but it covers more, in detail."

In a nutshell, the act allows surrogacy for lawfully wedded couples where the wife cannot get pregnant. The woman who is to serve as the surrogate must be a blood relative of either the husband or the wife, but not the couple's parents or descendants. Also, the surrogate must have had a previous pregnancy, gain the approval of her husband (if she is married) and her eggs cannot be used. If the surrogate is single, no permission is required from anyone.

The new act outlaws surrogacy for commercial purposes, making anyone involved for financial profit subject to up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to 200,000 baht. In terms of custody, the new law states that the couple that seeks surrogacy are the legal parents of the child. The surrogate has no legal rights over the baby she gives birth to. However, same-sex couples are not covered under the new law.

"The law completely shuts the door for same-sex couples," said Apichat. "Given the fact that the law is aimed to provide couples with reproductive issues a chance to have a baby, we should give the same chance to homosexual couples too because they also fall into this category."
The surrogacy law has been criticised as being discriminating and infringing the rights of several groups of people, especially children born through surrogacy and surrogates themselves, said Suchada Taweesit, president of the Sexuality Studies Association at Mahidol University's Institute for Population and Social Research.

"The new surrogacy law reflects prejudices that have existed in society," Suchada stressed. "The enforcement outlaws commercial surrogacy but it does not take into account that the entire surrogacy issue, in fact, reflects social inequality. The law is well-intentioned, but it still violates people's rights." Women are treated as inferiors by the new law, continued Suchada.

"From my studies, most surrogates decide to get pregnant because they are impoverished or in debt. All this leads to surrogacy for [financial] profits. So the women should have the right to make their own choices. The womb belongs to the woman. So why does she need to ask her husband's permission to serve as a surrogate? At the same time, children born through a surrogate should have the right to know who gave birth to them."

Suchada said that one perk of the surrogacy law is that it throws cold water on medical practitioners and agencies, who may take financial advantage of the procedure. But instead of enforcing regulations that strip the rights off some groups of people, the law should be accompanied by a more comprehensive screening and monitoring protocol, both before and after surrogacy, to prevent it from being abused.

"The law should examine [surrogacy] agencies carefully and check if they all are legally licensed," Suchada added. "Women who are to become surrogates must also be investigated to see if they have any suspicious background, which could potentially lead to human trafficking. This is because if we do not do all these things right in the first place, surrogacy will definitely go underground because those who wish to have babies are still willing to do anything to have them.

"And this is likely to bring about more human rights infringements."    

Director of the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand and gender activist Danai Linjongrut said the surrogacy law is too narrow and it is not based on what has actually happened in society.

"Surrogacy is a new social issue. But the law was written and put into action based on the old mindset that parents must comprise a woman and a man, no one else," said Danai. "So to offer the best benefit to all parties concerned, every surrogacy-related issue must be discussed openly without discrimination. If it is surrogacy for money, for example, then it should also be discussed as to why and how to make it reasonable based on the country's family planning protocol.

"Carmen is one of the great lessons for every one of us," he added. "From her, we do not just learn about the legal aspect of surrogacy. We also learn about sexuality, family and equality."

As a father, Lake only wants to give Carmen all the opportunities in the world -- to be the happiest person she can be, send her to an international school so that she speaks several languages and bring her up to be a loving and caring girl.

But in the meantime, while he is stuck in Thailand fighting for custody, he is hopeful that the surrogacy law and its temporary exceptions would eventually give him the legal right to be called Carmen's father.

"The law itself outlaws surrogacy for all foreigners," said Lake. "But there are also temporary provisions, which are defined that it is in the best interest of the child born through surrogacy that the child's legal parent be the biological parent  -- the parent who wanted her so badly, not a surrogate who agreed to carry the birth for another family.

"Just because a surrogate carries a child, that doesn't mean that she would be a better parent for the child," he added. "Just because the surrogate is a woman, it doesn't mean she would be a better parent for the child It is well documented internationally that two fathers can be good parents, too. And we have shown that we are excellent parents who love our children very much."


Monday, September 21, 2015

What to consider when exploring surrogacy

Gestational Surrogacy – in which a woman agrees to carry an embryo to term on behalf of a couple – can be a wonderful way to expand your family. The advances in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that make this possible are incredible! However, as seen in so many celebrity headlines over the past few months, the legal side of the equation hasn’t quite caught up with the medical side. Couples and would-be surrogates embarking on this journey need to pay extra attention to protecting all those involved, in the face of any potential challenges.

Some recommendations on what to consider:

While some states have statutes that strictly govern the use of surrogacy and agreements, others – such as North Carolina - have no statutory authority. As such one must not only consider where they (as the Intended Parents – “IP’s”) reside but where the gestational surrogate resides as well. Contracts must be drafted to protect both the IP’s and the Surrogate and they must follow any applicable laws in the state where the IP or Surrogate reside.

· Once a Surrogate is determined, the IP’s and the Surrogate would then work closely with their own attorney to draft an Agreement that governs the rights, responsibilities and liabilities of each party, and establishes the rights and legal responsibilities for the child.

· Other critical options to consider: whose genetic material will be used to create the embryo? For same sex male couples, medical tests may determine who is more viable or if both men are healthy donors, there is always the option to implant two embryos, one from each male donor, and take the gamble on one or both becoming viable and healthy babies. For same sex female couples, again medical tests may determine whom is the best carrier. Parties can also consider one to carry and the other female to donate the egg.

· What happens if you opt to freeze remaining healthy embryos and the parties later separate and/or divorce? Are the embryos property? Who gets possession of the embryos? There is case law evolving as couples divorce and then battle it out over the remaining embryos. Of late, most courts are ruling in favor of the party whose desire it is to not procreate – but that may change over time and depending on the facts and circumstances.

· Does the state you live in allow for the IP’s to have a pre-birth Order? Once the Surrogate reaches viability, typically 26 weeks, some states will then issue a pre-birth order to the IP’s. The pre-birth order would allow the IP’s names to be listed as the legal parents on the birth certificate once the child is born.

All of these options should be considered when thinking about using a Surrogate. While the path may vary, and while you may hit a few bumps or a fork in the road, if you proceed with caution and obtain legal advice from an attorney experienced in ART, the journey should be a smooth one – and the end result will be nothing short of a miracle.


NSW considers allowing couples to advertise for surrogates

NSW couples would be able to advertise for surrogates, and have legal parentage of any child born from a surrogacy arrangement transferred to them more quickly, under law changes being considered by the Attorney-General.

The Department of Justice is reviewing the NSW Surrogacy Act 2010. Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton is determined to improve the act, and told Fairfax Media the review was particularly considering "potential reform around time limits for applying for a parentage order and the advertising of altruistic surrogacy arrangements".

Under current laws, altruistic surrogacy is the only kind permitted in Australia. Surrogates can't be paid for carrying a baby, and commissioning parents aren't allowed to advertise for a surrogate.

The intended parents of a child born through surrogacy can apply to the NSW Supreme Court for a parentage order 30 days after the child is born. A parentage order grants them full parenting rights and their names go on the child's birth certificate.

"Surrogacy helps people for a variety of reasons have a child," Ms Upton said. "I am determined to ensure our laws makes surrogacy easy, and most importantly put the interests of the child front and centre."

Surrogacy experts said the number of people becoming parents via altruistic surrogacy is gradually increasing as it becomes more acceptable, and more couples are able to find strangers via internet forums to carry their child.

"We'll continue to see an increase in domestic surrogacy as more and more people talk about it," surrogacy lawyer Stephen Page said. It costs $25,000 to $60,000 to have a baby via altruistic surrogacy in Australia. A commercial surrogacy arrangement can cost up to $80,000 in India and as much as $250,000 in the US.

Surrogacy advocates are pushing for Australian women to be "compensated" for carrying another couple's baby, arguing it recognises the value of what they're doing, would prompt more women locally to offer to be surrogates, and would stop couples going to uncertain overseas jurisdictions to find a surrogate.

The House of Representatives standing committee on social policy and legal affairs recommended in March this year that there be an official inquiry into the legal and regulatory aspects of surrogacy arrangements here and overseas. Attorney-General George Brandis has yet to respond.

Mr Page said Mexico and Nepal had become the new international surrogacy frontiers for Australians. Thailand has closed its borders to Australians after the Baby Gammy case, while India will permit  only married couples from states other than NSW, QLD and the ACT (which have explicitly banned commercial surrogacy) to engage a surrogate there.

In Australia potential altruistic surrogates must be over 25, and fertility clinics prefer them to have already given birth to a live baby and to have completed their own family.

It was a "surreal" moment when Katrina's newborn daughter Isabelle was laid on her chest for the first time. "I never thought I'd be a mum."

Having severe endometriosis, Katrina had been told she would never be able to carry her own child to term. She and her husband had frozen embryos and investigated commercial surrogacy overseas, before a close friend volunteered to carry their baby for them.

Katrina and her husband were present for the birth of Isabelle, and she was the one who first held Isabelle. Katrina stayed overnight in the hospital with Isabelle and her surrogate, before both women went home to their respective families.

Melbourne IVF medical director Dr Lyndon Hale said altruistic surrogacy worked best when the commissioning parents and the surrogate lived close to each other, and had a good interpersonal relationship.

Melbourne IVF has had 17 babies born via altruistic surrogacy since 2010, and there are another five on the way. About three-quarters of surrogacy arrangements involve family or friends.


New South Wales attorney general considers surrogacy law changes

New South Wales couples could soon be able to advertise for surrogates under law changes being considered by the state’s attorney general.

Gabrielle Upton is reviewing changes to current laws that would allow reform around advertising for “altruistic surrogacy arrangements”.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal under existing laws, and commissioning parents can’t advertise for a surrogate.

Other changes under consideration might also speed up application time for legal parentage orders. People are currently only able to apply for legal parentage 30 days after the child is born.

“I am determined to ensure our laws makes surrogacy easy, and most importantly put the interests of the child front and centre,” Upton said.

Earlier this year the head of the Family Court of Australia led a push to legalise commercial surrogacy.

The change would prevent unethical decisions by couples overseas following high-profile cases of abandonment in India and Thailand, chief justice Diana Bryant said in April.


Govt rolls back move to allow surrogacy

The government today revoked its earlier decision to allow surrogacy services in the country.

Minister for General Administration Lal Babu Pandit said a Cabinet meeting held at Singha Durbar decided to roll back its earlier decision on September 18 last year that legalised surrogacy to promote ‘health tourism.’

The government had stated that it was specified under the government’s National Health Policy.
Point no. 12.14 of the policy issued by the Ministry of Health and Population last year stated: “Infertility shall be managed through a law relating to surrogacy.” The ministry had also published a notice, stating that hospitals and health institutions with required facilities may apply to the government for permission to provide surrogacy services.

Earlier on August 25, the Supreme Court had issued an interim order to the Office of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers and MoHP, ordering them against allowing surrogacy businesses to run in the country.

A single bench of Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha had issued the order responding to a writ petition filed by two advocates. The petitioners demanded an end to commercial surrogacy, which lured poverty-striken women into carrying babies for wealthy persons.The apex court had ordered the government to either formulate necessary laws regarding surrogacy or to outlaw it altogether.

Surrogacy involves implantation of an embryo created using either the eggs and sperm of the intended parents, a donated egg fertilised with sperm from the intended father or an embryo created using donor eggs and sperm. It is called an agreement of carrying a pregnancy for intended parents.


First successful surrogacy cases declared in Vietnam

The first case is a couple from the central province of Khanh Hoa who have been married for four years. The wife, 28, had some shortcomings with her reproductive organs and could not conceive. A 33-year-old cousin of the couple agreed to help them with the surrogacy. The cousin now has an eight-week-old twin pregnancy.

The second case is a couple from the central province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau who have been married for seven years. The wife, 31, also had some problems with her cervix. A 27-year-old cousin of the couple agreed to help them, and the pregnancy is now five weeks old.

Doctors said that sperm and ovum of the two couples was normal, although they could not conceive by themselves.

Dr Tran Ngoc Hai, head of the Planning and General Affairs Ward under the hospital, said that the hospital started surrogacy technology from July this year, but until now the only surrogate mother there was unable to conceive as she had lung disease.

Tu Du Hospital is one of the three hospitals in the country which is allowed to conduct the surrogacy technology based on the Government's decree issued on January 28 this year.


'The Meddler': Review

Inspired by her relationship with her own mother, Lorene Scafaria (Seeking A Friend For The End of the World) has made The Meddler into a sweetly comedic ode to mothers everywhere. While it’s better to let a radiant Susan Sarandon take you for a ride than ask too many questions about the fare, The Meddler is a mother-daughter date movie which could hit a rich seam in niche play and VOD when Sony sends it out in 2016. Valentine’s day counter-programming wouldn’t be a bad idea for a gentle love story like this.

It feels like years since Sarandon has had this good a part, and it’s a joy to watch her go about building Marnie Minervini into one of cinema’s most endearingly embarrassing mothers with a wide Brooklyn accent and an almost preposterous inability to recognise boundaries.  More lustrously attractive than your average mother, Marnie has moved to Los Angeles to be close to her adult daughter Lori (Rose Byrne), but close doesn’t go quite far enough in describing Marnie’s ambitions for the relationship.

Forcing herself into cheerful positivity two years after the death of her beloved husband of 40 years, Marnie knows no limits, but Sarandon doesn’t turn her into a shrill, over-bearing figure. She’s very sweet and endearing; guileless, even hapless: Marnie means to do well. Her purchase of an i-Phone sets off a chain of voice mails to Lori, who is dealing with grief in a different way to her mother, but is also depressed following the break-up of a significant relationship. (Lori works in the entertainment business, where she appears to be writing a sitcom based on her own family life; in fact, The Meddler has a sitcom-ish pacing for most of its run.)

Marnie is the type of mother who wafts into the house unannounced, checks her daughter’s browser history, and turns up uninvited at a baby shower for one of her daughter’s friends to gift the expectant mother with an over-generous i-Pad. She’s particularly partial to a Beyonce power ballad. Equipped with an inheritance from her husband, Marnie is also unable to press the stop button when it comes to her impulsive acts of generosity. A frequent visitor to Apple’s genius bar, she strikes up a friendship with employee Frank (Jerrod Carmichael), encouraging him to go to college, eventually driving him there at night and studying with him. She even under-writes a lesbian wedding for one of Lori’s friends, becoming a surrogate mother in the process (this, apparently, happened; no wonder Scafaria couldn’t resist writing this film).

Marnie also starts visiting Lori’s therapist (Amy Landecker) in a brazen attempt to find out more about her daughter.

Apart from being a series of comic vignettes, The Meddler is also framed partially as a romance, and a very endearing one at that. It takes an actor like JK Simmons to pull off the role of a retired cop who drives a Harley, raises chickens, and sings them Dolly Parton songs, but he’s got just the right heft to be persuasive. It’s a lovely little sidebar. Rose Byrne does well with the role of a beseiged daughter who also takes her mother too much for granted.

The Meddler, with its gentle, almost whimsical attitude to story-telling, doesn’t entirely justify a 100-minute run, and some things are more credible as you watch them then when you exit the cinema into the cold light of day. But it’s attractively shot in a radiant Los Angeles, around The Grove shopping centre (“like being in Disneyland every day”) and up to Topanga Canyon by DoP Brett Pawak in a light and airy package that’s hard to resist, much like Marnie herself.


My mum gave birth to my son

Antonietta Di Maggio 53, is the proud gestational surrogate for her daughter who was born without a uterus.

Claudia Luca was born without a uterus.

Speaking on Channel Nine's 60 Minutes she said she felt something was missing and she wanted a baby.

After exhausting all her options her mother offered to act as a surrogate.

"I said Claudia, I will carry your baby for you. I will do it for you," she told 60 Minutes.

Claudia said she was scared the whole time as she didn't want anything to happen to her mother, who is over 50.

Karl Stefanovic, who reported the story, said it was a risky pregnancy.

“Medically it would have been more difficult and there would have been more risks," he told

“She risked her health for her own daughter.”

It had been 27 years since Mrs Di Maggio last gave birth when she became pregnant with her grandson.

“This is one of the most beautiful stories that I’ve ever done," said Karl.

"This mum is an amazing person and so strong and it’s an emotional story because Claudia has been through hell.”


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Parental order under s 54 of HFEA 2008 cannot be made in favour of sole applicant

The President has rejected an application by a father for a parental order under s 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008  on the basis that "the principle that only two people – a couple – can apply for a parental order has been a clear and prominent feature of the legislation throughout."

In Re Z (A Child: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act: Parental Order) [2015] EWFC 73 the court heard that the child, Z, had been conceived with the applicant father's sperm and a third party egg using an unmarried surrogate mother in Illinois. The issues that arose in the case were, firstly, whether it was open to the court to make a parental order under section 54 (1) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 on the application of one person.  Secondly, could section 54(1) be 'read down' in accordance with section 3(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998 so as to enable the court to make a parental order in favour of one person.

Following Z's birth, the father obtained a declaratory judgment from the appropriate court in Minnesota, relieving the surrogate mother of any legal rights or responsibilities for Z and establishing the father's sole parentage of Z. However, for the purposes of English law the surrogate mother remained Z's mother and the father did not have parental responsibility for Z.

From paragraphs 6 to 14 of his judgment, Munby P sets out s 54, which allows a parental order to be made on the application of two people, and its legislative context. In doing so, he considered s 30 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and the legislation concerning adoption. The President notes that in contrast to contemporary and long-established adoption law, s 30 contained no provision for a parental order to be made in favour of one person. The legislative developments that followed made no changes to this position.

At paragraphs 15 to 17, the President considered the legislative debate culminating in the enactment of the HFEA 2008 as recorded in Hansard.  In particular, the records demonstrate that an amendment was sought to the Bill with the purpose of achieving consistency with adoption law, but it was argued against and subsequently withdrawn.

The fundamental argument of the father was that the requirement of s 54(1) constituted a discriminatory interference with a single person's rights to private and family life, and was therefore inconsistent with Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention. Inter alia, it was also argued that the legislation was contrary to Article 12 of the Convention which protects the right to found a family. Further, it was said that the law and the government policy was to enable single persons to be eligible to adopt; and that it was artificial, disproportionate and discriminatory to distinguish between adoption and surrogacy on the basis of the complexity or sensitivity of surrogacy. The father's case was supported by CAFCASS.

Munby P found that the fact that the relevant provision was found in primary legislation represented a substantial obstacle as it was not enough to show that there is incompatibility. The father sought to argue that there was no incompatibility and the section could be 'read down' in accordance with s 3(1)of the Human Rights Act 1998. The President considered the case of Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza [2004] UKHL 30 and sets out the relevant passages at paragraphs 28 to 34 of the judgment.

The father's case was rejected on the basis that "the principle that only two people – a couple – can apply for a parental order has been a clear and prominent feature of the legislation throughout."

Further, the President found that " the crucially important question, of who, for this purpose, can be a parent, this consistent statutory limitation on the ambit of the statutory scheme always has been, and remains, ..., a "fundamental feature", a "cardinal" or "essential" principle of the legislation, ...".

Finally, the President states that this judgment is not intended to throw any doubt on the correctness of other decisions (referred to in the judgment) under s 54 of the HFEA 2008.


High Court refuses single father's application for a parental order

The UK's High Court has ruled that single parents cannot apply for a parental order to become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy.

The applicant is the biological father of a child, Z, born in the USA following a surrogacy arrangement using eggs donated by third party. Although the surrogate relinquished her parental rights and the applicant was registered as the child's father in the USA, on returning to the UK the legal status was different – the surrogate was treated as the mother and the father did not have parental responsibility. The child has been made a ward of court.
In order to become the child's legal parent and for the child to receive a UK birth certificate, the father was required to apply for a parental order. However, unlike adoption, a parental order can only be made by two people in a marriage, civil partnership or long-term relationship.

The applicant argued that this requirement was discriminatory and interfered with a single person's right to a private and family life under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The court was asked to interpret the rules on parental orders in such a way that would be compatible with the Convention rights.

Lawyers for the father also pointed out that the  Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act – the legislation dealing with parental orders – was updated to make the law fit for the 21st century by removing discrimination against different family forms, and that both the law and government policy clearly supported the principle that single people should not be excluded from adoption.

Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division, was not persuaded, however, saying that the provision in question could not be 'read-down' to include one-person applications. He explained that Parliament had made a very clear distinction based on important points of principle and such a construction would not be compatible with the 'underlying thrust' of the legislation.

It would ignore what 'has always been a key feature of the scheme and scope of the legislation', Lord Justice Munby added. The applicant did not pursue an argument that the legislation itself is incompatible with the ECHR.

Representing the father, Natalie Gamble, of Natalie Gamble Associates, said: 'This is about whether the court can stretch outdated laws to recognise the modern families actually now being created, and to protect the children being born into them.'

'We want to see children being born through surrogacy to single parents being treated in the same way as children being born to couples.'

Meanwhile in South Africa, the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the requirement that at least one of the intended parents must have a genetic connection to the child for the couple to become legal parents through surrogacy – a requirement that also applies to parental orders in the UK – is unconstitutional.
'A family cannot be defined with reference to the question whether a genetic link between the parent and the child exists,' the judge said. The decision is being appealed to the Constitutional Court, reports IOL news.


Sherri Shepherd Accused Of Abandoning Her Baby, Left Surrogate To Pay Son’s Bills

Sherri Shepherd’s baby drama continues to pour in. The talk show host is now being accused of sticking the surrogate mother with baby Lamar ‘LJ’ Sally’s medical bills.

It has been about five months since Sherri Shepherd‘s nasty divorce with ex-husband Lamar Sally, but the drama isn’t going away. The surrogate mother that the pair used is lashing out and it’s not pretty. Jessica Bartholomew is accusing The View alum of abandoning the baby and leaving her to pay his medical expenses.

“I will never help another mother have a baby,” Jessica angry stated to Daily Mail Online. “Sherri put me and my family through so much emotionally and almost ruined me financially so I will never trust anyone to go through that again.”

Sherri and Lamar pursued surrogacy using his sperm and an egg donor. But before the baby was even born, the former couple were going through a divorce. Sadly, the baby was a huge issue, and a nasty legal battle unfolded in regards to who the financial responsibility of the child would be. Sherri wanted no part of it and wanted out. Now, the surrogate mother is telling her side.

She went on to say, “I wanted to help her because she couldn’t have a child of her own and it was supposed to be a beautiful thing. But it turned out to be a nightmare.” Jessica felt she wasn’t told the full story. “If I had known this was Sherri’s attempt to save her marriage,’ says Jessica, ‘there is no way I would have agreed to this surrogacy. Since when has a baby saved a marriage? Never.”

Sadly, the issue got worse. Little “LJ” who recently just turned one, is being raised by one parent– his father. That means he had to manage the medical bills alone, but when he couldn’t afford it — Jessica was forced to pay child support. “Lamar needed to get healthcare for the baby so he went through government assistance and they automatically go after the other parent to collect support and since I was the birth mother and Sherri was denying any responsibility they came after me.”

She added, “I couldn’t believe it. Sherri knew I was a waitress and a single mother but she didn’t care, she just walked away and let them demand support from me when she was the one who wanted this child. I was helping her and this is how she repaid me. I will never, ever go through this again.”

Sherri Reveals She Was Scared To Speak Up
Sherri recently opened up about the entire messy relationship with her ex and told People,”My situation was a sense of, I didn’t state what I needed and what I wanted and what I didn’t want for being scared of somebody leaving the relationship. There are consequences to everything, but I was scared to say, ‘That’s not going to work for me. I don’t want that.'”


WHAT lengths would you go to for your child?

Antonietta Di Maggio gave birth to her own grandchild so her daughter could have a baby

Antonietta Di Maggio gave birth at the age of 53, but she didn’t do it so she could have a child. Instead, she was giving a new life to her own daughter who had been born without a uterus.

Claudia Luca had exhausted all of her options to have a child and approached her mother to be her surrogate.

She expected Mrs Di Maggio would say no.

Karl Stefanovic will tell the story of the ultimate sacrifice on 60 Minutes at 8.30pm tonight on Nine.

“I’m blown away by the story,” he told

“This is one of the most beautiful stories that I’ve ever done. This mum is an amazing person and so strong and it’s an emotional story because Claudia has been through hell.”

After seeing his wife give birth to three children, Stefanovic said he knew how difficult it was to carry to term and the emotional upheavals that came along with it.

“And Antonietta is more than 50 years old,” he said.

“Medically it would have been more difficult and there would have been more risks.

“She risked her health for her own daughter.”

It had been 27 years since Mrs Di Maggio last gave birth when she became pregnant with her grandson.

Through the tears and raw emotion, Stefanovic said the family had its laughs.

“It’s funny because Claudia’s husband told everyone at work about how his mother-in-law was pregnant with his child,” he said.

Claudia has gone through her whole life wanting a baby and thought motherhood would only ever be a desire.

“There’s an overwhelming amount of love and thankfulness for her mum who went through this to give her this miracle baby,” Stefanovic said.

“It really is a miracle story because they needed everything to go right.”

Footage will be shown on tonight’s story of baby Luciano being born.

“There was a lot of pressure on the birth itself,” Stefanovic said.

“Imagine being in the birth suite and seeing your baby being born.

“It’s so heartwarming and will bring a tear to everyone’s eye.”

Stefanovic said he had enormous respect for Mrs Di Maggio and could not speak highly enough of her.

She was one parent who said she would do anything for her child.

The mother and daughter were flooded with emotion after the birth of the baby and Stefanovic said little Luciano was a part of both of them.

“But Antonietta doesn’t feel like the baby is her child,” he said.

“It’s hard to separate that so it’s interesting and an incredible power of will.

“That’s the thing with surrogacy — how does the person giving birth detach?”

Stefanovic said seeing the impact Mrs Di Maggio’s love had on her daughter was uplifting.

“Claudia thanks her mum and the emotion is the most raw I’ve ever seen in the way she articulates it,” he said.

“Her mum has sacrificed so much and seeing Claudia with her bub is really touching.

“She knows she has got a miracle in front of her and it’s the way she touches and looks at the baby that got me the most.”

Stefanovic said this was one story that every parent should watch as a life was brought into the world under extreme circumstances and conditions.

He said the story would also cover how medicine had improved in Australia.

“Your mother giving birth to your child — how does that work?” He said.

“About 20 or 30 years ago this would not have been possible but it’s possible now and it’s real now and Australian families are having these miracle babies all the time.”


Couple who have tragically lost SIX babies now hope a surrogate mother can help them start a family

  • Jina McPhee, 28, has miscarried twins and had two stillbirths in last decade
  • She and husband Tam, 31, have also seen two of their kids die very young
  • After 6th child was stillborn, doctors found Mrs McPhee has rare condition
  • It means she will never be able to carry a baby for full term of pregnancy

A couple who have lost six babies are hoping a surrogate mother can help them start a family.

Jina McPhee, 28, miscarried twins, had two stillbirths, lost a daughter at just 13 days old and another little girl aged three - all within eight years.

It was only after the stillborn birth of her sixth child, Murray, that doctors discovered she has a rare condition that means she will never be able to carry a baby to full term.

Medics suggested surrogacy would be the best option for Jina and husband Tam, 31, but it's only now - three years on - that they feel able to take the next step.

'We're desperate to have a family,' said Jina, from Livingston, West Lothian.

'I would give anything to be a mum again and Tam is such a good dad. This is something we both want so much.'

The couple went to the same primary school but it was only when they were teenagers they got to know each other through Tam's sister.

They got together when Jina was 16 and she fell pregnant a year later.

'I had severe sickness all the way through my pregnancy but I felt I wasn't taken seriously when I went to the doctor because I was so young. It was hard.

'When Krystal was stillborn the doctors said it was nature, just one of those things. I was devastated but it was good news to know there was nothing wrong for any future pregnancies.'

Just a couple of months later, Jina fell pregnant again, this time with twins.

But again she became ill, losing lots of weight and experiencing bad sickness.

She lost them at 12 weeks.

'That was a horrible experience. I was rushed to the hospital,' Jina recalled.

'My experience was very much like the recent Eastenders miscarriage storyline. Friends and family texted me to tell me not to watch it, but I'm just glad the issue was put out there for people to learn about.'

For the next year, Jina and Tam grieved and tried to get their lives back together.

In 2006, she became pregnant a third time.

'I was really sick but I was told I was just one of those people who got ill during pregnancy. Then I had to give birth 26 weeks early by emergency caesarean.'

Karmelle weighed only 410 grams and the doctor told the shattered parents not to expect much.

'We were heartbroken but she seemed intent on defying doctors' predictions and fought so hard,' Jina smiled.

'After four months we were told she was severely brain damaged and life expectancy was short.

'We were allowed to take her home two months later. Doctors couldn't believe she was still alive, it went against everything medical books suggested.
'I was so proud of her and she was just the best.

'But I always worried it would be the last time she would do this or that - a last birthday or last Christmas - but her wee personality kept us going.'

Karmelle died in November 2009.

'She gave us so much.

'She really taught us about disabilities and after she passed away we both decided we wanted to work with disabled people, so I went to college to study learning disability nursing and Tam started working with Enable.'

Around a year after Karmelle's passing, Jina became pregnant with Ruby.

'I still felt a need to be a mum,' she continued.

'I wasn't half as ill this time and was receiving closer attention from the hospital. But then I couldn't feel her moving and I was rushed in for another emergency caesarean at 27 weeks.

'We were so happy to be told she didn't have brain damage but then she had an episode and her bowel burst, which turned to septicaemia. She died two days later.

'I felt like I was dreaming. It just didn't seem possible that it could be happening again.'

Doctors did tests on Jina and said if she fell pregnant in the future they would put her on a high dose of steroids and the baby should be OK.
'But then they stopped the steroids at 20 weeks and I had this terrible feeling.

'Three weeks later, Murray was still born.

'The doctors insisted they wanted to do a post-mortem but Tam and I couldn't have it on our conscience. Murray was so tiny and I couldn't do that to him. I asked them to do tests on the placenta instead and it was then they discovered I had the rare condition.

'They contacted London and America looking for a specialist with a treatment plan but couldn't find anyone.

'What they did know was that the condition, which I don't even know the name of, gets worse with every pregnancy and they said future pregnancies wouldn't be viable.

'My eggs are fine but my body fights against being pregnant, so they recommended a surrogacy.

'By this point, I felt like I couldn't watch my parents and brother and Tam's family grieve anymore. They went through each death with us, so I had already decided I didn't want to try again before the doctor delivered the news.

'With every pregnancy there was hope. Everyone around us would say it would be all right this time and we were always positive.

'But it never worked out like that.

'In hindsight it would have been good to find out after the first pregnancy but then we would never have had Karmelle and she brought so much to our lives.

'I even have her to thank for my career - I start my new job at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital at the end of the month.'

It's taken a while for Jina and Tam to feel comfortable about going down the surrogacy route, but they finally feel ready to make that step.

'There's no rule book written on how to rent someone's womb and it just feels really weird asking someone to carry my baby,' Jina admitted.

'My mum and her friend and people on Tam's side offered, but I checked with fertility experts and there are standard requirements which usually include things like age or weight.

'There's an organisation called Surrogacy UK, who can match us with a surrogate, but first we want to raise money to pay the expenses.'

Surrogates cannot be paid in Britain but expenses can be covered ranging from £8,000 to £15,000.

'We set up a fundraising page more in hope than anything else but the response has been unbelievable,' she added.

'We've had more than £5,000 in just a couple of months, including an anonymous donation of £2,000. It's hard to believe that perfect strangers could be so kind.'

Jina and Tam could be close to having the family they long for - and no price can be put on that dream finally coming true.


Mother gives daughter gift of motherhood through surrogacy

Mandy and Jamie Stephens dreamed of a moment like this for years. The couple had their share of struggles while trying to become pregnant. But all that would change when Mandy was blessed with the ultimate gift... motherhood.

"It really didn't seem real. I mean it was the best thing ever," said Mandy, Myla's mother. "Like I'm going to wake up and this won't be real because you know, I've had dreams about it."

The reality of Myla's conception is complicated. After Mandy and her husband endured the loss of an infant son, they considered turning to a surrogate for help.

"We met with an adoption agency and then some family members came forward and said, 'Yeah, hey I might be a surrogate,'" said Mandy. "At first we kind of thought that's kinda crazy, cool. We started reading about other families that were doing it."

After numerous trips to specialists and countless tests, Mandy's mother was chosen as the best candidate.

"You know, pregnancy was so easy. I like being pregnant. I don't mind being pregnant," said Sherri Dickson, Mandy's mother and surrogate. "If It was something I could do for her, why not?"

"So my family, I knew that they were probably the only ones that really could go through it all," said Mandy. "And I knew my mom is the only one that could. I mean she is a rock star and it is not an easy process at all."

Carrying Myla brought an added benefit to Sherri, who has multiple sclerosis.

"I didn't be a surrogate to put my MS into remission. I actually, that was an afterthought that it did that."  

After the big decision came what Mandy describes as a waiting game. And finally, the moment for which the family had hoped.

"I had to look at the line then I had to put my glasses on and run down to my husband," said Sherri. "And I'm like, 'Put your glasses on'. And we're both looking at it. And then I thought 'Yeah, I'm pregnant!' And then my second thought was 'Oh, I'm pregnant.'"

"When she first brought it out I was jumping up and down and we were all just hugging," said Mandy.

The family welcomed baby Myla into the world July 31st-- a gift that's brought them together with an unbreakable bond.

"Myla, her name, means miracle and her middle name is James," said Mandy. "She's named after her brother Theo James. So she is just like God's greatest gift to our whole family. We are so in love with her and she is going to be one spoiled girl because our family just dotes over her. We say it's Myla's world and we are just living in it."

The hope of carrying a baby is not over for Stephens, though. Mandy had a procedure that has a 98 percent success rate for full-term pregnancies in women with an incompetent cervix.


Woman, 30, born without a WOMB is refused NHS funding for IVF 'because she would need a surrogate to carry her baby'

  • Nicola Rickards was born without a womb due to a congenital condition
  • Was told by her consultant she was the ideal candidate for IVF funding
  • The local CCG has turned her down as she would need a surrogate
  • She is heartbroken her lack of womb doesn't make her an exceptional case

A woman has been denied the chance to become a mother after being told the NHS will not fund her IVF, despite the fact she was born with no womb.

Nicola Rickards, 30, is desperate to start a family with her partner, 33-year-old Matthew Cornock, an assistant site manager.

But she was was born with Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome, a condition that means she has no womb or cervix, but does have ovaries.

Miss Rickards said her consultant told her the condition makes the couple  'ideal candidates' for funding for IVF.

But, because the couple would need a surrogate to help them realise their dream of parenthood, they have been denied funding for the fertility treatment by their local clinical commissioning group (CCG).

Miss Rickards, of Gloucester, says she is heartbroken that her lack of womb doesn't make hers an exceptional case.

She said: 'I understand they only have a finite amount of money, but to be told we aren't deemed an exceptional case was heartbreaking.

'I've appealed three times, but got nowhere. I've even been to the NHS headquarters to meet with some of the most high up bosses.

'Several members of the panel teared up while I was telling my story, but I was still denied funding.

'I didn't choose this, I was born with it. It feels as if I'm being punished for something I can't help.'

The cause of Miss Rickards' Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome (MRKH), remains a mystery.

The condition, which is also associated with kidney, bone and hearing difficulties, means she does not have a womb, but still has ovaries and fallopian tubes.

She was diagnosed after she turned 19 and still had not started her period.

The diagnosis was made via an ultrasound and a keyhole laparoscopy - a procedure where a camera is put inside of the abdomen and pelvis through a small incision.

'I didn't think much about what the future implications would be at first. I was a teenager and kids were the furthest thing from my mind,' said Miss Rickards.

'But, as I got older, the reality set in. With MRKH, I haven't experienced much in the way of physical day-to-day affects.

'The psychological affects have been horrendous, though. I've recently started having bereavement counselling, because it almost feels like a loss.'

Miss Rickards, a mental health nurse, and Mr Cornock first applied for IVF funding in April this year, after being told by their consultant that they were 'ideal candidates'.

They were devastated when their local CCG rejected their application.

The couple appealed three times, but were repeatedly told the same thing – they would not be granted funding because their case was 'tagged with surrogacy'.

According to their commissioning policy list, Gloucestershire CCG, who dealt with the case, do not currently support or fund surrogacy or any related treatments, including fertility treatment, to those with surrogacy arrangements.

'We feel discriminated against. If I could carry my own child, I would, but that just isn't an option,' said Miss Rickards.

Finding themselves out of options for pursuing NHS funding, the couple have instead set up a GoFundMe page, in the hope that they can raise enough to pay for the treatment themselves.

They have currently raised around £800 of their £2,500 target.

Each cycle of IVF will cost them £3,000, as well as expenses to their surrogate, once they find one.

Miss Rickards is speaking out to raise awareness of MRKH, and hopes her story will provide comfort to others who are struggling to start a family.
'There's always been a stigma around infertility,' she said.

'People need to speak out more and be more open. That way, it'll become less of a taboo and those going through it will realise that they aren't alone.'

A spokeswoman from NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the organisation does not support fertility treatments directly associated with surrogacy arrangements.

She said: 'We are sorry that the individual concerned is unhappy with the outcome.

'There is a process that allows individual funding requests to be considered, and this takes into account both the current clinical evidence available and individual circumstances.

'The CCG's policies take into account NICE guidance (which does not support surrogacy) and evidence of clinical and cost effectiveness.

'The CCG does not fund experimental treatments such as womb transplants, surrogacy or any assisted conception treatment associated with it.'


Friday, September 11, 2015

Ipswich mum gives gay couple the chance to be parents through surrogacy

Redbank  Plains mum Tegan White is carrying the child of a gay couple and helping to complete their much wanted family.

The 29-year-old met Jason and Chris Lilwall via an ­online site and established a connection after meeting face-to-face.

“I’ve had a failed journey (with surrogacy) before but wanted to try it again,” Ms White said.

The mother of three children herself offered to be the couple’s surrogate after her close friend had difficulties falling pregnant.

Diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Ms White fell pregnant with her son after finishing treatment.

Ms White was carrying twins for the Lilwalls but lost one baby at nine weeks. She is due to give birth in January.

She said her surrogacy journey helped through Brisbane’s Life Fertility clinic was a great way to help those who did not have the power to bear children themselves.

Jason, 43, and Chris, 37, have been married for 10 years after having a ceremony in New Zealand. The couple have one child, Jake, also born via a surrogate.

“This is the second time down this road for us with a different surrogate. We keep in contact with everyone ­involved with the process ­including the egg donor who helped us have Jake,” Jason said.

Jason said his immediate family turned their back on him when he told them of his sexuality.

“What matters now is that I have a family who loves me unconditionally,” he said.

According to non-profit organisation Surrogacy Australia, same-sex Queensland couples desiring to have a family are on the rise.

President Robert Reith said surrogacy was a hot topic in Queensland due to many factors including the strong desire to parent among many who cannot carry a child themselves.

Mr Reith said there were currently no government statistics indicating the number of surrogacy births in Queensland.

“But based on our own research, we believe there were about 20 births using a surrogate in 2012 across Australia,” he said.

“This compares to about 500 Intending Parents (IP’s) going overseas. We believe there were about 300 children born using an overseas surrogate in 2012, and we expect this number has increased substantially since.”

According to the Queensland Government website and Surrogacy Law Act 2010, in Queensland, any person, regardless of their relationship status, can enter into a non-commercial surrogacy arrangement.


Mother becomes surrogate for daughter

After North Dakota couple Mandy and Jamie Stephens endured the loss of an infant son, they considered turning to a surrogate for help.

It turned out that Mandy’s mother was the best candidate.

“You know, pregnancy was so easy. I like being pregnant,” Sherri Dickson said. “I don’t mind being pregnant. If It was something I could do for her, why not.”

Carrying Baby Myla had another benefit for Sherri, who has multiple sclerosis.

“I didn’t be a surrogate to put my MS into remission,” she said. “I, actually, that was an afterthought that it did that.”

Baby Myla was born July 31.

Watch the video for more information with the attached link.


Womb on rent

Sep 8, 2015- Surrogacy is a process through which people who want babies pay other women to deliver their child. There are two methods to do so: traditional and gestational. In the traditional method, the sperm is artificially inseminated in the surrogate mother’s womb who goes on to deliver baby on behalf of the couple. In the second, relatively advanced gestational method, the sperm and the egg from a father and mother is first fertilised through in-vitro fertilisation and the embryo is then placed inside the surrogate mother’s womb.

Benefits and hazards
While surrogacy is a boon for infertile couples, it could pose many social and medical risks to the surrogate mothers. Along with the social stigma attached to it, surrogate mothers face many health risks induced by pregnancy such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia/eclampsia, anemia, thromboembolic diseases, postpartum depression and psychosis. To use one’s body as a vessel to carry someone else’s child is not simply physically torturous but also an emotionally draining process. Thereby, many countries in the world have either banned surrogacy, strictly regulate it or have made it very expensive.

Surrogacy also raises many cultural, social, economic and political questions. To begin with, surrogate mothers have been found to be merely treated as baby-producing machines in many cases. The baby is the product and until the product is delivered, the surrogates are either cared for or claimed to be taken care of. Once the baby is born, the surrogate mothers are simply forgotten about. So in the absence of properly defined laws, there is a real danger that surrogacies could encourage women trafickking. Such women might simply be forced to undergo the process for money.

Surrogacy in Nepal
The issue of surrogacy in Nepal first came to the fore in March 2011 after a case was filed at the Kathmandu District Court over the property rights of a baby born through a surrogate mother. The court ruled that the child is equally entitled to inherit parental property. Of late, the issue is back into limelight as the country has turned into a hub for surrogacy in the absence of rules and weak regulatory mechanisms. In particular, after India tightened its rules on commercial surrogacy, foreigners seeking such services have started trickling into Nepal.

Last year, the Cabinet made a decision to allow surrogacy in Nepal with the intention of promoting medical tourism in the country. The decision allowed foreigners to have surrogate babies as long as the surrogate mother was also a foreigner. But in recent times, many cases of Nepali surrogate mothers have  surfaced. To make matters worse, these women have been found to be exploited by unscrupulous middle-men and their male relatives to carry and deliver babies for foreigners.

Need for a law
The absence of laws to regulate surrogacy services in Nepal makes matters worse. But as the Supreme Court recently issued an interim order to close down surrogacy services in the country until the government brings in laws to oversee it, not all is lost for surrogate mothers. The government should use this as an opportunity to formulate a law which addresses the concerns of the surrogate mothers instead of merely treating them as ‘income generators’. The law should provide them will with all the required medical facilities and ensure that surrogacy is not run like a business.

The law should ensure that surrogate mothers are treated humanely and that they are not exploited. Furthermore, it must introduce provisions that do not allow parents to discard the baby after the surrogate mother delivers it.

The new law should create a government agency to regulate assisted reproductive technology clinics and ensure that they meet certain standard of cleanliness and medical expertise and abide by a code of ethics. Clinics should be required to provide services such as counseling to the parents and the surrogates. The clinics and hospitals should maintain detailed records of both the parties. The surrogates’ compensation should be standardised; the medicines and food should be made available to them free of cost and that their emotional and psychological needs should be addressed. In conclusion, the process of using a fertile woman’s body to bear somebody else’s child has to be done in a legal and humane manner. The government must realise that commercial surrogacy could develop into a heartless, inhuman business if is not regulated properly. It should act fast and bring in the required law before this currently illegal business turns into a hideous crime that exploits women.


Single surrogate fathers ‘cannot be recognised’

President of the Family Division Sir James Munby has ruled that the High Court cannot recognise surrogate children of single parents.

In a recently published judgment, Sir James denied a parental order for the biological child of a British single father. The child, ‘Z’, was born to a surrogate mother in the Midwestern US state of Minnesota.

An American court subsequently ruled that the father was Z’s only parent and it relieved the surrogate of “any legal rights or responsibilities” for the child. The father then brought Z to England and has cared for him since.

English surrogacy law states that the woman who gave birth to Z is legally his mother. He applied to the High Court for a parental order which would name him the child’s sole parent and allow him to get Z a British birth certificate. His application was supported by Z’s court-appointed, whose job was to represent the child’s best interests, and the American surrogate.

However, section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 clearly states that applications for a parental order can only be made by “two people”. Such couples must be married, in a civil partnership or “living as partners in an enduring family relationship”.

Despite the father’s support, Sir James Munby ruled that the law was very clear. He declared that the father was not eligible to apply for a parental order under the current laws.


Kolkata doctors shoot film to bust surrogacy myths

These five doctors were friends at the Calcutta Medical College who bonded not only through class lectures and practicals in the anatomy laboratory, but also on stage professionally. But now, they have decided to graduate beyond the stage on to the silver screen. This time they have come together to film a story that revolves around surrogacy. Shunyo E Kol, awaits the censor board nod and will immediately release thereafter.

These doctors are regular faces at Matiya Natyam - a theatre group that originated as an in-house initiative of Calcutta Medical College boys and girls many years ago but has now moved beyond the College Street boundaries to theatre houses in the city. They will be staging the much awaited Ekalavya this week, which after the success of their earlier plays, Ekaki Manush and Ei To Jibon, both staged at the Academy of Fine Arts and Madhusudan Mancha, has been able to generate a lot of interest.

In the film the doctors have tried to highlight a trend that they felt was gradually becoming a part of the health reality of women in the city. In the course of their professional lives, each of them has come across patients, colleagues, friends and relatives who have gone for assisted conception and surrogacy for want of a child. "So we decided to weave all these experiences into a story that will capture the different sides to surrogacy. While on the one hand there are those patients who are unable to conceive or carry the foetus due to medical conditions, there are others who cannot take time off for pregnancy because of the pressure of their profession, but yet crave a child. Both categories are opting for surrogate mothers to carry the foetus born from the egg and sperm of the two biological partners," explained Rajesh Das, a doctor in the team.

The doctors have collated their real life experiences to coin a single story that has been written by Bhaswati Roy, who teaches history at Surendranath College and is also a writer of Bengali fiction. "Right from how speciality clinics have a panel of healthy surrogate mothers to choose from, to the charges and contracts involved, the emotional issues of separation with the foetus and finally whether a child that an otherwise professionally busy woman gets through surrogacy, is ultimately cared for," explained Chiranjit Bal, a doctor at the Calcutta Medical College. The other doctors in the team are, Suddhasatwa Chatterjee of Apollo, Soma Dutta a gynaec at the Baharampur Medical College and Saswata Banerjee of Nestle India.

Among the real life women whose lives have inspired the film is a freelance anesthetist, Sangita Banerjee (name changed) who is attached to several leading doctors in the city and earns approximately Rs 20,000 a day (Rs 4000 per case she attends to and she takes at least five to six cases a day). "If I take six months off for the pre and post natal care, my clients will get attached to other anesthetists because operations have to go on. I will never be able to get back where I belong, simply because I am a freelance. So I opted for a surrogate mother, though it is an expensive proposition," Banerjee said.

Pritha Sarkhel (name changed), a 24 year old mother of a three year old boy from Choto Jagulia in Barasat, has been empanelled with a clinic on Theatre Road for surrogacy. "The society treats us as prostitutes. As women who lend wombs to carry other men's babies, but since the money is good, I have opted for it through an agent," she said.

Gynaecologist Gautam Khastagir agrees. "Though I tend to differ with doctors about whether surrogacy is such an urgent option, I do believe that surrogate mothers deserve a respectable status than what the society is prepared to give them. Films like these will help to spread awareness at different levels," he said. Filmmaker Anindita Sarbadhicari who created history by opting to choose a partner later but go for pregnancy and motherhood using assisted conception finds the idea extremely interesting. "I am glad that these doctors have decided to make this film! Every bit of information helps to remove the cobwebs of doubts in the collective psyche of a city that still dithers when it comes to IVF and surrogacy!"


A mix of hits and misses

An unexpected end makes you wonder if what Syal has written isn’t really a cautionary tale about inter-racial surrogacy and late parenthood

Meera Syal’s new book has been a long time coming. After all, it’s been 16 years since her last, Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, was published, and almost two decades since her first, Anita & Me, hit the stores. In all this time, Syal’s style has evolved, and the way she approaches the plot in The House of Hidden Mothers is different, more subtle and surefooted in its touch. At the same time, Syal has managed to maintain the sheer ease of her work, and the way it invites you to plunge headfirst into the story that seems almost deceptively simple.

The House of Hidden Mothers continues in a similar vein, with a plot that, as it unravels, is anything but simple. At its heart lies the complicated and delicate web spun with themes of inter-racial surrogacy, aging, parenthood, and family. It is expansive and incredibly ambitious in its scope, and with every layer you peel off, and every page you turn, Syal opens doors that lead to more questions, and sometimes, to a few answers.

The book starts with a veneer of shiny, charming cynicism, the kind that hides something deeper just under it. British-Indian Shyama visits her Harley Street specialist, and we first see the book’s world through her eyes. In her late forties, Shyama, unsettled by her aging body, deals with the world in a kind of half-funny, half-angry way. Shyama is a fighter. Even before we learn that she can’t have the baby she so desperately wants, even before we are told of the philandering ex-husband, and much before the action in the book has really started, Syal, simply though this solo visit to a Harley street doctor, paints the picture of a resilient woman, vulnerable in a way that refuses to lead to helplessness.

And across the globe, Syal introduces us to another woman, another fighter. In rural India, Mala fights a quieter battle, one that is littered with compromises and silences, hope and ambition. She’s resourceful, hungry for information of a world she wants but cannot have. That she can become a surrogate mother is both a frightening and promising news for her, but reaches her through the many filtered route of neighbours, friends and her husband. It immediately becomes an escape she doesn’t quite understand the price of. Within the first few chapters of the book, Syal sets the plot. Now we can only wait for Shyama and Mala’s world to come together.

It is the book’s foundation, this initial setting of stage, that is its real strength. It provides the plot with an unshakeable foundation, so that even when you aren’t really convinced, it holds you flagging interest. Syal’s created complicated, beautifully contradictory characters — in Shyama’s 19-year-old daughter from her first marriage; in the much younger Toby, Shyama’s lover and partner; in her friends Priya and Lydia, who could have easily become caricatures, but instead carry their own weight.

Syal examines the question of surrogacy in a way that allows from several points and counterpoints. Supplementing fiction with reality, Syal explores the very nature of commercial surrogacy in India today, peppering the dialogues about it with real cases and examples to illustrate legal, moral and medical points.

What also shines, in The House of Hidden Mothers, is the subplot that involves the property struggle Shyama’s aged parents, Prem and Sita, face in India. Long after the book is over, the tenderness that these gentle, kind people evoke lingers. In them, Syal has created her most empathetic characters, and watching them hurtle towards difficult legal battles and inevitable heartaches, there is a kind of helplessness one feels.

The book, in its entirety, is a curious mix of several hits and misses. It is immensely readable, and Syal’s language creates a world that is dramatic, but not overly so. Her characters are satisfyingly fleshed out, and to a certain extent, so is her plot. A substantial part of this book is set in India, and Syal shows that she can handle the descriptions of this contradictory, complex new India well. She writes of it without breathtaking awe or kindly superiority. Instead, Syal keeps things almost starkly real, so that the setting plays as the perfect score, neither too overwhelming nor invisible.

So, it is really the resolution of the book that irks, like a loose thread on an otherwise smooth cloth, the one that you shouldn’t pull on, in case the entire thing unravels.

Towards the end, Syal’s characters, and the plot, careen towards an unexpected, and also unlikely end, one that is probably not but does feel hurried. Their actions raise more questions — on biological identities, fatherhood, love and belonging — the kind of questions that are unsettling, and which are too huge, too complex, to deal with in the last remaining pages. What is otherwise a satisfying read, therefore, ends on a confused, almost uncertain note, and you wonder if what Syal has written isn’t really a cautionary tale about inter-racial surrogacy and late parenthood.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Merton woman serves as surrogate mother, births twins — twice

For 36-year-old Andrea Ashby, motherhood came easily and naturally.

She remembers as a young child crafting cribs out of shoe boxes for her dolls and being an eager babysitter for a younger sister born 12 years her junior. When she fell in love with her husband, who had a 1-year-old son, the picture of her own family started to form. In addition to her stepson, Andrea and her husband added two more sons and a daughter to create their family.

And then they were done.

Sort of.

After much thought, discussion and research, the town of Merton resident helped a couple in Florida to realize their own dreams of having a family.

She became a surrogate.

Despite the odds, which were overwhelmingly against such a bounty of fortune, Ashby delivered her first set of twins for the family in September 2012.

In February this year, she delivered a second set of twins for the same family.

Coming to the decision
"After our daughter was born, I was good with not having any more kids," Ashby said. "We just thought we have four, they're good — they're happy and healthy, and we're going to stop here."

But when her youngest was about 4, she began to experience some pangs.

"I had this feeling, not that I wanted to have more kids, but that I missed being pregnant and going through the whole thing," she explained.

Ashby thought it was a phase that would eventually pass, but a year later she found herself in the same state of mind.

At that time, she said, a relative unable to have children went through the adoption process, which triggered some thoughts. "I started doing some research and getting in touch with people who have been on both sides of it (surrogacy issue), hearing stories about people who so badly wanted to have a family. That was something I took for granted because it came so easily to me," she said.

Hearing stories from people who could not have children was "heartbreaking," Ashby said. "I talked to my husband and at first he was like 'are you crazy?'" But he quickly came to support the idea, she added.

"He was the one who did most of the research for me. He found the agency we actually signed up with (Center for Surrogate Parenting). It is in California and is a very, very supportive group agency. Every three months we would go to Minnesota for a group meeting. I got to go to a group meeting before I ever even agreed to be a surrogate. You get to talk to all the other women; you get to hear all the aspects of every stage of the process. It was really what sold me on this. Everyone was so open and honest and the support through the group was just fantastic," she said.

After the meeting, the couple signed up and agreed to start the matching process, which took about a year.

"I had a choice of which couple I wanted to pick from. That was honestly one of the hardest decisions I had to make. I think they sent me three or four profiles, and I had to read them all and decide which one I wanted to work with," she said. Ashby said the most difficult part was not in choosing which family, but in the fact she could not help them all.

She and her husband each read the profiles and both chose the same family.

Emotional component
The couple attended another meeting and then met with the prospective parents and a psychological counselor in Milwaukee.

"Every couple and every surrogate has a counselor or a psychological coordinator. They cover everything — things as serious as what if you have a baby diagnosed with a horrible mental or physical disability before they were born. You have to talk about terminating pregnancies, or what if you only wanted one and there were two. It was a pretty heavy meeting," Ashby said.

After the counselor left, the Merton couple spent the day with the prospective parents and brought them back to their home to meet their family. The couple bonded even further as they prepared to enter the next phase of the process, six months that included doctor appointments, counseling and scheduling.

Physical component
The first embryo transfer took place in January 2012, using donor eggs.

"It is not painful at all. It was very fast; I expected it was a whole big to-do. I showed up at 8 a.m., and it was done by 8:20 a.m. They made me lay there for another hour and then told me to go sit at the hotel for two days. But with that transfer, they transferred two embryos and both of them stuck.

"In September of 2012, at 38 weeks, they had two almost 7-pound baby girls," Ashby said.

The doctor had cautioned that by transferring the two embryos, there was only a 30-percent chance that even one of them would take.

"Everything went perfectly, to be honest with you," she added. "They really wanted twins."

Ashby said they bonded so well with the couple that they later agreed to proceed with a second surrogacy.

And, like the first, they again beat the odds, and Ashby was once more carrying twins.

The second set of twins, a boy and girl, this time, were born in February 2015, this time by C-section.

"This one was a little different because we found out pretty early on that she (baby girl) had a pretty serious heart defect. She was actually here for nine weeks after she was born and had to have two or three procedures in those nine weeks," Ashby reported.

Leaving the hospital
Ashby said she was well-prepared, both times, to hand the babies over to the parents.

"It was not difficult at all. I went into it with the state of mind that this is something I wanted to do, and it was for these people. What I was doing was greater than any attachment I would have had, or any feelings I would have had. I think mentally you are so prepared that I just kind of did detach myself. I was very careful, but it was more like a job, and I was trying to do the best job I possibly could. It was all mental.

"They weren't mine," she explained.

Ashby said she did not face any negative feedback from family, friends or co-workers about the surrogacy.

"If anything, I got the opposite response. At some point, I thought if people ask, I'm going to have to tell them. I was selective in the conversations that were taking place. I was not going around announcing it, but if it came up and people asked questions, I was going to tell them. A couple of women at work started crying, saying 'that's the most beautiful thing I ever heard,'" she said.

That is not to say she wasn't concerned.

"I have heard from women in the group whose kids in school get ridiculed, or things like that. I was a little worried about that; I'm not going to lie. I told my kids early on, and I think it helped that they met the parents. They just got it. Even their friends' parents were very supportive," she said.

According to the website of the surrogacy agency Ashby went through, CPS, payment for a surrogate mother can be up to $55,000. Additional compensation is paid from the intended parents' trust account.

"The agency has a compensation schedule that allows for monthly payments, and you are compensated up to a certain amount. If you carry multiples, it's more, and if you actually give birth to multiples, they allow for another allowance on top of that," Ashby said.

"I thought it was generous enough," Ashby said.

But for Ashby, the reward of helping a couple become a family was greater than the financial compensation.

She remains in touch with the people she helped make parents, including visiting with the family in their Florida home.

"Honestly, it was to coolest thing being down there and seeing them as a family," Ashby shared.

Her husband, Jamison, agreed.

"I see it as her way of giving back. We have been blessed with four beautiful children and seeing as we decided to not have any more, this is her way of still being able to continue to have the experience of childbirth and help other families experience the joy of raising them. I have backed her up 100 percent in this and will again if she decides to do it further," he said.

The agency they used, however, caps the number of pregnancies at five. With three of her own biological children and the two surrogate pregnancies, Ashby is at that ceiling.

She considered what advice she would give others considering becoming a surrogate.

"I will honestly say it is not for everybody. There are a lot of horrible things that can happen, and you really need a good support system. It's a pretty big undertaking and it can take up more than a year of your life.

"It was probably the most rewarding thing that I have ever done," she said.



Beyonce and Jay Z are expecting a second child and if the latest reports are to be believed then it is through a surrogate. Read on to know more details.

According to In Touch magazine, the 33-years-old singer is sorting out the possible surrogate as she and her husband add to their family. Beyonce’s first daughter, Blue Ivy, was born 3 years ago and now the couple seemed to be eager to have a younger brother or sister for Blue. According to an insider, the power couple are in the process of having a baby through a surrogate.

In her documentary, “Life is but a Dream,” the singer said that thinking of having a baby via a surrogate is indeed a tough decision, but ever since she suffered from a miscarriage she stills feels very hard to carry a baby again.

“They were trying for several months, but Beyoncé was having trouble. She was scared about another high-risk pregnancy, so surrogacy became the best decision for them,” the insider added.

According to, the couple did not want to take any more risk. After their legal documents were finalized by their lawyer, the couple took another two months to find the perfect woman who would carry their child. When someone asked to know more about the surrogate mother, the insider said that she is in the early stages of her pregnancy, so no one is making any official announcement.

Is the Baby to Save their Marriage?

Ever since the reports of Jay Z’s infidelity started to surface online, it started to look that their marriage was in trouble and since then Jay Z has been pushing Beyonce to have another baby with a hope that the child will bring them closer together.

At the same time, the singer is really very much concerned about Beyonce’s health. That’s why he does not want her to go through any risk. All that Jay Z wants to make sure is to ensure everything to go as smoothly as possible. Either way, fans just hope that they continue to work on their marriage.