After two years of searching on various methods of becoming parents, my partner and I where very flustered. It seemed that domestic adoption was out of our reach and nearly impossible, international adoption was off-limits because we where a same sex couple, domestic surrogacy cost more than our home and that left international surrogacy. In India, surrogacy has been commercialized. It is widely accepted, the society has legalized the use of surrogacy and for US citizens on a budget, the exchange rate is incredible. So incredible that you can actually work with two surrogate mothers at the same time!
Some people say their are ethical reasons why a US citizen, or citizen from any country really, should not go to India for fertility treatment or assisted reproduction. However, once you find out just how hard it is to seek the same services in the US or whatever country you live in, India's monetary exchange rate is very attractive. Also, the woman that become surrogates are not entering this blind, they know what they are doing, and want to help others- while helping themselves and their families get ahead. The average Indian Surrogate will be paid $8,000 USD or 400,000.00 INR which is more money than many of these woman could ever dream of having. It is enough to move out of the slum's to a home, send your child to school, obtain clean drinking water and feed your family, and still have money left over. Having been there, and having met several surrogates, they want our "business" as much as we want to have a child. I am sure that there are instances where someone gets taken advantage of, and you will find that everywhere, but for the majority of these arrangement's, everyone walks away happy!
That was not the case for my partner and I. We contracted with Surrogacy Center India, paid the initial fee's totaling $21,000 (not including airfare, hotel, food, sight-seeing.) For the $21,000 we paid, we where to be matched with an Indian egg donor, and two surrogates. Once the egg donor had undergone the donation process, the egg's where to be split between my partner and I, fertilized respectively, and implanted into the two surrogates. There success rate, 99% first attempt. You could end up with two sets of twins at the most, or a singleton from just one surrogate mother, or, nothing, or even two sets of quadruplets- however their laws regulate multiple births, and do not allow for anything higher than twins.
Between hotel, food, transportation, and airfare, we paid an additional $6,500. We where to meet both surrogates and their husbands, meet everyone involved from our lawyer, to the surrogates lawyers, and everyone in between. The clinic itself is owned and operated by Dr. Shivani, which is what she goes by normally.
Here is what we received. Ten days in one room that had a twin size bed, a TV, bathroom and an air-conditioner set to not allow the temperature to go below 80 degrees. Food was to be included, which it was not. The room was to have a king size bed (we are two men) and it did not, travel to and from the clinic was included, and it was not, free internet, we had no internet and I cannot tell you how hot it was- 80 degree's may seem cool to a person who is use to temp's over 100 degree's, however, at our house we don't allow anything higher than 68 year round.
We met Dr Shivani for approximately ten minutes. We glanced at three profiles of surrogates- we where given under two minutes to peak and I am not being facetious. And we went to the clinic once per day to make a "donation" in which twice one of us had specimens picked up by a janitor. Each time we entered the clinic, and exited the clinic we where asked to pay, even though we had already paid and it was the same person at the door every time. We never did go sight-seeing because the two times we attempted to do so, we where asked to come to the clinic for something, both times resulting in us sitting for about four hours, and then sent back to the hotel to await another phone call.
We where assured that everything was fine, and it was cultural differences by the facilitator Meg. who was our contact person while in India- she was in Australia.
As the days wore on we worried, why haven't we met the surrogates, the donor, the lawyer? Soon, on the 10'th day, still nothing. We didn't even pack to leave until 45 minutes before our driver came to bring us to the airport. Still nothing. As we exited the prepaid guesthouse, we where told we could not leave without paying- an additional $450.00 USD for items we used? We had no idea.
While in the car, we asked the driver to please call the clinic and express our concern, which he obliged. We where told that Dr. Shivani was not available, and to check out email and voicemail before the 17 hr plane ride home and once we landed. Which we did.When we landed, the email we received stated that we breached our contract. No implantation took place, and we had 18 frozen embryo's. We where also told that to move forward we would have to pay $20,950 to proceed with two surrogates because the two woman we where matched with did not want to work with us anymore because we just left... How do you just up and leave if you are 17 hours away from your home?
We attempted to negotiate to no avail. We asked for the embryos to be shipped, and they had been misplaced for several months. Misplaced- how do you know if something is yours if it has been lost, and it can only be seen under a microscope? Then, when we agreed to move forward, but said we could only work with one surrogate, we never heard from them again.