Rent a Womb? The Baby Factory in Gujarat.


 (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

                                 Surrogate Mothers in various stages of pregnancy in their hostel in Anand, Gujarat

The story first appeared in Bangkok Post, June 2014. 

To the outside world, Anand -a dusty town in eastern Gujarat- is known primarily as  a hub of Amul Industries and like everything in Gujarat , a town  emblematic of its Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s developmental model and progress. However for the childless around the world, for whom adoption is a not an option,  Anand  is just a pit stop on  their dream to acquire  a  child with their own DNA.  Each year hundreds of them flock here from as many as 34 countries, winding their way through the traffic chocked, dusty by lanes to reach Akanksha  Infertility Clinic- the hospital that churns  out an average of one baby a day.

But Anand  is also the last hope for women who have none. Empty stomached but fertile wombed they come    here from all across Gujarat offering their  womb for rent.

These surrogate mother are houses in two sets of hostels for the duration of their pregnancies where their health and nutrition is monitored.

I expect to find grim, forlorn women when I walk into their hostel during their afternoon siesta but am greeted with an usual cheer.  The jovial environment turns to hilarity when Seema, 31, begins to narrate her story. “ I did not have a single penny earlier. Even if I had a ten- rupee note I would keep it tied up in my chunnie. But after I go from this clinic I will have so much money. I will simply go crazy when I see this money. I have no idea what I am going to do with it all”, he says breaking into a riotous laughter.

Seema with the new clothes she bought from the money she got as a surrogate. Money she never had before. Anand, Gujarat (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Seema with the new clothes she bought from the money she got for her womb. Anand, Gujarat

The  dozen or so women in the hall, lying in  various stages of pregnancy laugh along. The laughter belies the reality of their lives. But the  dark humor binds them all and provided comic relief. Seema will get  only about 4 lakhs – one forth of the total of  what the would -be -parents spend on the whole procedure, but its more than she can handle.

Many of the women, including Seema were on the verge of committing suicide pushed to take that extreme step due to poverty. Dr Nayana Patel who started this clinic tentatively  in 1999, narrates the story that seems like a plot of a Bollywood tearjerker. “ There was a couple who had lost everything and they made a suicide pact. They had even bought poison but before they were about to consume it they decided to have  chola kulcha. A story about my clinic was in the wrapper and they read it and came here. Today the man  has a thriving  barber shop  in Baroda”, she says.

Though Akanksha Infertility Clinic provides succor to  poor women like Seema , social pressures makes it an uphill task for them to go down the route of surrogacy. There is always the  danger   of social ostracization  –   a scenario  more brutal for them  than poverty.  They are not so well educated to understand the nuances of modern technology where  a woman can get   impregnated without a man. The husbands are suspicious and most reluctant but give in grudgingly having no other hope to survive. “One husband insisted on sitting outside the room when an embryo was being implanted in  his wife’s body to ensure no man went inside”, says Dr Nayana.

Dr Nayna Patel and the surrogate mothers. Dr Nayna says its easy for others to criticize but they don't realize how its changing the lives of women living in utter poverty. Anand. Gujrat (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Dr Nayna Patel doing an ultrasound on a Surrogate, Anand, Gujarat.

Madina , a surrogate mother in her 8th month  says her husband is not happy but has no choice. “ We are very poor. No one comes here out of happiness. This is our last hope.  I am relieved that I have money to pay for my children’s education but am afraid no one will invite me to any social functions now. This is not allowed in Islam”, he says.

The  surrogate mothers have made wise investments with their money, having bought houses or set up shops for their husbands. Many like Manju have returned to the clinic to become surrogates again.

Manju’s  husband died due to alcohol  a few years ago and like many found surrogacy as a  way to seek a future.  She bought a house with the money from the first surrogacy. Now she is in the ninth month of her  second surrogacy.  “I have two sons. They study in the hostel. I want to secure a good future for them”, she says.

There are rules for surrogate mothers as they are for the childless. The surrogates  have to be no younger than 21 years and not older than 35. If married the husband’s consent is important.  No woman can be a surrogate more than thrice. In Akanksha Infertility Clinic all the surrogates have to be from Gujarat.

The parents meanwhile have to accept the child after its born. They cannot choose the surrogate’s  religion or caste.  They need to be married. Needless to say they also have to be very rich.

Seema who attempted suicide twice because of extreme poverty says becoming a surrogate gives her a chance at life, Anand, Gujarat (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

Sangeeta,32, a surrogate, is six months pregnant. Has to move house every 11 months. Plans to buy her own house with the money and educate her two children. Anand. Gujrat (sanjay austa sanjayausta@gmail.)

3 Responses to “Rent a Womb? The Baby Factory in Gujarat.”

  1. Pooja Solomon says:

    Honestly , I don’t know who are you and how you got added to my FB account also, but I often see your post and also read them out, It’s nice that you bring such stories on front of the people like us who are completely unaware wats happening around …All The Very Best…You deserve it..Thanks

  2. Sudhir says:

    Dear Dr,

    You gave hopes to need ones. Thanks from human being.
    You really did very good job. I read your conditions for parents & surrogate mothers too. Really you are a bridge between two different life stages – Rich & Poor.

    From bottom of the heart — Thank you very much..!

  3. nassir says:

    I search born baby to adopt so can you help me

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