In absence of law, middlemen make a killing

They act as buffer between couples and fertility clinics

As there is no law pertaining to surrogacy in India, agents have become a vital cog in the entire matrix of the surrogacy industry. But these agents or middlemen work in secrecy, and exploit surrogate mothers to extract hefty amount from childless couples.

In the capital, there are only three agencies registered with Indian Council of Medical Research and around a dozen are operating illegally. There are some 50 independent agents working in connivance with various clinics. When a childless couple reaches at a clinic for enquiry, they fill up requisite forms as per needs. These middlemen access these forms and directly contact the couple and doctors and offer cheap rates for surrogates.

These agents too claim to the couple that they work for authorised agency registered with the Indian Council of Medical Research, but they work illegally in secrecy.

“They directly contact doctors of IVF clinics and provide surrogates at cheaper rates. They take money from doctors and give less amount to the women, who they have lured to become surrogates,” says a representative of Ana Med Services Pvt Ltd, an agency registered with ICMR.
Many agents that act as a buffer between the infertile couple and fertility clinics in the city have contacts with hospitals in foreign countries. There, they demand between Rs 30 and Rs 40 lakh, and here in Delhi they give Rs 2 lakh to the surrogates. 

These agents, after the surrogates give delivery to the child, sometimes refuse to give money promised to them. The middlemen and agents then snap ties with the surrogates.

The three registered agencies charge Rs 15 lakh from foreign couples, and Rs 8 lakh from Indian couples for the whole surrogacy process. They claim to give Rs 4 lakh to surrogates. Middlemen often lure poor women from villages to become surrogates for as little as Rs 1 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, and keep them in confinement for some 11 months, away from their families and friends. 

“They are regularly provided medical attention, but are kept in confinement,” says a doctor, who does not want to be named.

Sometimes, when surrogates refuse to give the baby after keeping them for nine months in the womb, the agents threaten them with consequences of long legal battles, and flash contract papers signed by them without knowing the whole process.

Clinics cannot arbitrarily accept cases from middlemen, according to ICMR. But as there is no law to check or monitor, everyone works smoothly under the carpet. 

“If there is any complication during pregnancy and the newborn baby is dead, the middlemen manage the legalities at hospitals and thereafter do not give a single penny to the surrogates,” adds the doctor.   

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