After her brother Tusshar Kapoor, who had a son via surrogacy, producer Ekta Kapoor also welcomed a baby boy, Ravie, as a single woman through the same process. Celebrities took to social media to congratulate the new mother, whose baby was reportedly born on January 27, after seven years of trying to be a mom. The news was later confirmed by Ekta through a social media post.
Breaking the shackles of judgment surrounding parenthood outside of wedlock, some single unmarried women today are opting for motherhood. Nearly two decades ago, Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen made news when she chose to become a single mother by adopting a girl at the age of 25, and her second 10 years later. Recently, TV actor Sakshi Tanwar also adopted a baby girl.
It’s not just celebrities. Take Eleena Banik, for instance, who had a baby girl via IVF (In vitro fertilisation) by the age of 37. “I have had a very busy work life, which is why I did not have the time to have a child earlier. I got divorced at the age of 30. I did not remarry because I did not want to be stuck in a loveless marriage. Around that time, I also realised my biological clock was ticking and I thought of having a child,” she said.
Dr Firuza Parikh, director, FertilTree, Jaslok International Fertility Centre, informed, “Over the last five years, we have three to four women coming forward every month to freeze eggs or opt for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).”
One cannot deny the taboo surrounding single mothers in our country. “I visited an IVF specialist initially, who told me that he would do the procedure only after I got married,” said Banik, who, on occasions, also had to pretend to be married when she visited a fertility doctor. “Women in our country are conventionally expected to be married before having a baby. That’s not so easy. In a relationship, both the man and the woman have to be on the same page if they want to have a baby. Financial stability is also an important criteria. Also, when you are constantly shifting base or travelling a lot, having a child becomes difficult,” she expressed.
Single women have multiple factors to consider if they choose to have a baby. Dr Parikh, who also guided Tusshar Kapoor through surrogacy, said, “Many single women think about opting for parenthood but not all execute their thoughts. There are so many pressures-family support, social attention to their singlehood, work pressure, whether to carry the baby or opt for surrogacy, what to tell the child as he or she grows up, and the questions that the school and the child’s peers would raise. So, during the first meeting, I discuss all these issues. Our counsellors guide them regarding their choices. I usually ask them to come back for a follow-up meeting, preferably with their parents.”
So, what are the ways a single woman can have a baby? We list four options:
A type of assisted reproductive technology, this involves a process where the egg is combined with the sperm outside the body. The process entails monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from the woman’s ovaries and letting the sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. The fertilised egg undergoes embryo culture for two to six days, after which it is transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus for pregnancy. While the success rate has increased over the years, IVF does not really guarantee pregnancy, like Banik, who also suffered a miscarriage after an IVF cycle. Besides, it is also an expensive process that not all women can afford. Dr Rita Bakshi, Senior Gynecologist, IVF Expert and Founder, International Fertility Centre, said, “To be honest, single women who are coming to fertility clinics are more from the affluent class, who have the required financial resources and family support. But the good thing is that single women from the middle class are also opting for it.”
According to Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), a single woman can adopt a child of any gender, up to the age of 55. In 2016, around 93 registered single women adopted a child, as per CARA. “For adoption, one has to register on the CARA website, and upload the mentioned documents after filling the form. This also includes your salary slip for the past one year or ITR (Income Tax Returns) or bank statement. After registration, the woman will be provided the name and number of an adoption agency, who will charge Rs 6,000 on completing the verification orocess,” a CARA member told Express Parenting.
Ekta Kapoor recently shared a post on social media, where Dr Nandita Palshetkar, who guided the TV czarina, talks about how they chose surrogacy after multiple unsuccessful cycles of IUI and IVF. By this process, a woman, supported by a legal agreement, carries the pregnancy to due term for another, who ultimately becomes the parent.
Single women can also freeze their eggs using skillful embryology techniques by late twenties or early thirties, which is a good time to get healthy eggs. And here’s the process to do so.