They get ready for life after surrogacy

Women who deliver babies for foreign couples continue their struggle to lead a decent life

They get ready for  life after surrogacy

Mention of Anand rings in minds the famous dairy experiment by Varghese Kurian which ushered in milk revolution in the country. The famous Amul brand has its roots here. Now, the place is famous for surrogate mothers. In fact, it is also known as the capital of  surrogate mothers. A mansion named Surrogate House exists at Anand to take care of surrogate mothers.

Most surrogate women spend at least six months in the Surrogate House. The woman who has made this possible is Dr Nayna Patel, a gynaecologist.

The demand for surrogate mothers is high. At least 30 women are under the care of Nayna at any  time. They spend their time in the Surrogate House by paying a nominal amount for maintenance. Would-be parents pay amounts ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,500 every month to the surrogate mothers to ensure that their baby is born healthy. The amount is meant for buying nutritious food during pregnancy.

The would-be father’s name is added to surrogate mother’s name to give identity to the to-be-born child. The woman loses her family name or surname till she delivers the baby. She can only see her kith and kin and cannot share the accommodation at the Surrogate House.

This Anand experiment of delivery through surrogate mother that began in 2004 has seen the birth of nearly 500 children so far.

Nayna has now started doing some work which would financially help the surrogate mothers after they deliver.  She has set up a trust by the name Akansha Infertility Trust, which has been imparting training to these women.

Surrogate mothers have brought happiness in the lives of several childless couples. They also realise that they too need a source of income that will enable them to continue with their lives. Renting their wombs enable them to get some economic
stability but it is not a permanent financial solution. They need to lead life thereafter.

With sanction from their family members, they do opt to get into surrogacy but realise that it is just  a one-time income which will not sustain them for a lifetime. So, most women, who have already become  surrogate mothers to childless couples at least twice, are now looking for options that will provide them a sustained source of income.
An initiative has been taken up to help them. These women are trained in tailoring, making bakery products and to work as beauticians. It is hoped that this will enable them to get a source of livelihood and financial stability that they have been dreaming for long.

The gynaecologist, who has converted Anand into the surrogacy capital of India, has launched an initiative called the Mama’s products. Nayna Patel said: “A woman who has become a surrogate mother for two childless couples cannot opt for this option for a third time.”

She said medically it is not advisable for women to opt for surrogacy for the third time. However, a lot of medical tests are conducted and if the woman is found physically fit to be a surrogate mother for the third time then she is allowed.

Medical tests

She admitted that it was not an income that enables them to have a comfortable life and fulfill all their responsibilities. “Looking into the kind of financial difficulties they face, we realised that it was not enough for them to get a one-time payment which was up to Rs 5 lakh or little more,” said Patel. These women have their families to take care of and houses to be built. Some may have to take care of their children’s education. “All these cannot fulfilled with this amount and they need to have a permanent source of income,” Nayna said.

As a part of her initiative, women are now being trained for making bakery items and work in  beauty parlours. After leaving the place, they can also work from home in their leisure time.

Nayna said, at present, over 30 women are under­going training in the bakery section and seven were already working in different parts of the state in beauty parlours. Rukshmani Varotaria, who is undergoing a training for making chocolates and biscuits, feels that she will have nothing to do after delivery and the training will help her to earn money. Varotaria said: “Once the surrogate child is delivered I will get an amount which might take care of my needs to a certain extent but it will definitely not be a permanent solution.’’

To ensure that her  children continue studies and to build a house she has to look for a source of employment. Her husband, who works with a private company, was not  able to fulfil the needs of the family. She had to rent her womb to earn more money. She would contact local bakeries and take their orders or even sell products from home.

Naina Chauhan from Nadiad, who is also undergoing beautician training, hopes it will enable her to get a steady source of income. As there are a lot of beauty parlours near her house, she is confident of finding a job there.

Manisha Makwan, who is from Anand, has already been a surrogate mother and is now taking care of the newly born babies of NRI couples and foreigners. She is always in demand and she has a lot of offers from abroad to be a nanny. “As I have a family to take care of, I have chosen this as an  option,” said. She has already completed the
beautician’s course and when at home she does cater to the needs of her neighbours. It is a big help mainly during the festival and wedding seasons in the state.

Krupa Parmar, who has opted to be a surrogate mother for the second time, has completed her training in embroidery and is now attending a beautician course. Parmar is sure that the training that she is getting will definitely enable her to find an employment either at a boutique or a parlour.

Nayna admits that many women do get a lot more than the promised amount, especially from foreign and NRI couples. She said that it was empowering these women economically which is more important. She has been getting resource persons from Ahmedabad and Mumbai for training.

She said that this was the reason that people from various employment background are imparting training to the women. “The training will definitely equip them to do better and earn a steady income after they leave this place,” said Nayna, who has rushed to London to finalise a documentary by the BBC.

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