Every month Andrea, a US citizen from California makes a tentative call to small town Anand. In a conversation of two sentences, Andrea asks, “Daksha, you fine?” to which a voice replies back, “Daksha fine”. Though cryptic, this is all the reassurance that Andrea-an ‘intended parent’ who is expecting a child from a surrogate mother back in Anand, home to a fledging rent-a-womb industry in India, needs. In a first, the process of surrogacy shed the veil of stigma attached to it and went public as many such stories came out in a public forum in a panel discussion led by Nayna Patel-Obstetrician, Gynecologist and Medical Director of Kaival Hospital Pvt Ltd & Akansha Infertility and IVF Clinic known as ‘Surrogacy pioneer’ of Anand alongwith her embryologist Harsha, three surrogate mothers Manisha, Papia and Jyotsna and three intended parents. The unusual panel threw open the topic of ‘Surrogacy: Past, Present and Future’ on the first day of the 3-day International Communication Management Conference (ICMC-2014) hosted by premier communications management institute-Mudra Institute of Communications(MICA) on Wednesday.
The story is not too different for Canada-based lawyer couple Seema and Aly Kanji, who spoke about their trial and tribulations with four failed IVF treatments and the legal hassles related to adoption until they stumbled upon Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Patel in 2007 and are proud parents to a baby girl who was born via surrogacy just 20 days back. “Before opting for surrogacy, we thoroughly grilled the surrogate beforehand and ensured that she is doing it out of her own will and had a willing partner and met her last May…Even after birth, the surrogate mother ‘Chandrika’ comes to see our daughter and so does her entire family. We have decided to communicate to our daughter right from the beginning about her surrogate mother and will ensure that she keeps in touch with her. We hopefully will bring our daughter to meet her,” says Seema.
Even with an impending Surrogacy bill to be passed in the Indian Parliament, presence of many IVF clinics and high availability of surrogates in Gujarat has ensured that surrogacy has picked up majorly in Gujarat, especially in Anand, which has earned the reputation of a ‘baby farm’. Exchanging her sojourn into surrogacy was Manishaben; a two-time surrogate mother and currently a nanny who hails from a village in Anand.
“I lost my husband in 2008 and was left with three young daughters. A close female relative told me about surrogacy and said your life will be made. I didn’t even know the meaning of the word back then. I became a surrogate mother in 2009 to a couple who were married for 21 years and could not bear a child and delivered a healthy baby for them. With the money I bought a house continued…