Pros and Cons of Indian Surrogacy (Our Big Decision)

Well, we are late. And not in that awesome OMGBABYONTHEWAY late. I’m just late in catching you up on our happenings on the baby front. I’ll be explaining what’s happening on our side over at Pride In Life in the next week or so; lots of changes and lots of stressful stuff happening right now.

Now, back to business….where did we leave off?

After my little introduction, we spoke briefly about trying to perform an adoption in Oklahoma as a gay couple, which is like trying to get Herman Cain to (allegedly) keep his hands to himself. After a really frustrating and demoralizing few months of talking about adoption, I made a bold statement: we are going to do Indian Surrogacy.

Why Indian Surrogacy?

One of my favorite bloggers on the net (who, sadly, is no longer actively blogging) is Adrian from Two Dad Family. Adrian, along with his partner, Ralph (shout out to another gay ginger daddy!), told their story of using Indian surrogacy as a tool to start their family. I had read bits and pieces about Indian surrogacy before but Adrian used the website as an open record of their entire surrogacy process: from making the decision, to conception, baby prep and all of the way through to delivery, clearing the legal hurdles to bring their twins (YES! TWINS!) home to Australia. For me, Two Dad Family made Indian surrogacy seem attainable and it helped alleviate some of the stress of the unknown.

So, Jeremy and I started gathering information on what the process would entail for us (since we’re in the US and Adrian and Ralph are in Australia, the legalities would be moderately different). We contacted several different agencies that specialized in Indian surrogacy and began bombarding them with questions and gathering financial information.

Options and Cost of Surrogacy Packages

Both of the agencies were widely different when it came to the cost. (I’m not listing either agency because we have not personally used either service and I’d rather not recommend someone without knowing how they treat LGBT families throughout the process.)

My feelings began to change on Indian surrogacy during the pricing phase. Here’s an illustration of what we were told:

We could essentially choose from three packages:

Package One:
$15,000
This package included one surrogate of our choice and up to three rounds of IVF. There were no guarantees on conception.

Package Two:
$35,000
This package added up two surrogates and up to 10 IVF rounds. A discounted rate would be offered on additional IVF rounds with this package.

Package Three:
$60,000
This package included unlimited surrogates, unlimited IVF rounds and guaranteed conception. This package also accommodated multiple births (twins, triplets, etc) at no extra charge.

Of course I’m simplifying and ball-parking the prices, but the idea is still the same. There were a few things that still sounded really appealing to me. The price, while still not cheap, was appealing because domestic surrogacy starts at $45,000 in our neck of the woods. That’s assuming everything works perfectly and you’re not paying for round after round of IVF. With Indian surrogacy, you pay a set fee and the magic happens.

I also liked that, unlike with domestic surrogacy, the surrogate didn’t get parental rights by default, meaning it’s a much cleaner legal process to eliminate the “mother” from the equation. Obviously I mean that in the legal sense only.

But here’s where I got really weird (I’m a mess when it comes to making complex, emotional decisions on occasion). And keep in mind this is only my opinion and I’m not presenting anything as fact.

Experience of the Surrogate

I couldn’t get past the fact that the prospective surrogates are being paid to endure round after round of IVF (which involves some pretty serious hormone injections and medication), they were implanted with multiple embryos (one of the firms I spoke with said they guarantee twins, which is automatically a high-risk pregnancy for the mother) and they essentially live in a commune for pregnant mothers full or part time until they deliver.

Now, to temper that, the surrogates are paid a substantial amount based on the average pay in India. I was given a letter from a prospective surrogate saying that, with the money she earned from carrying our baby, she’d be able to finally buy a home for her family (they were living with extended family) and pay for two of her children to attend a private school. As a parent, I understand that there’s very little you won’t do to provide a better life for your family and children. It made total sense to me why the surrogates are eager to join the program. It’s also the only time that most of them will have continuous access to such thorough medical care.

Decisions, Decisions

At the end of the day, I couldn’t get past the feeling that, on some level, I would be exploiting the surrogate’s desire to provide for her family. In my head, I know that that’s not the case. But it’s just an emotional roadblock that I couldn’t get past and I had to learn to accept that.

BUT…but…I would never judge anyone else’s decision to use Indian surrogacy as a way to grow their family. I think that it’s a personal decision for every person and/or couple. And for many couples, like Adrian and Ralph, it’s the absolute right decision. Their story of meeting their surrogate and her family is beautiful and moving; the family planned to use the income to help the surrogate’s husband open his own business after being forced to work under someone most of his life. There’s no doubt in my mind that their surrogate benefited from the process nearly as much as Adrian and Ralph did.

I love the idea that, through Indian surrogacy, LGBT families around the world have been able to have children and begin their families. This world needs more same-sex families! But for Jeremy and I, Indian surrogacy just isn’t the right decision. And, for that matter, I don’t know that we’re ready to consider domestic surrogacy for Bean #2 either.

And thus our journey towards parenthood begins anew. For every answer, thirty questions are created – it’s like an episode of Lost (only without the beach and smoke monster).

With the holidays approaching quickly, the absence of our second child is growing more pronounced for me. We’re getting out stockings, hanging “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments and planning trips to see relatives. Each little activity that involves planning for our family of three outlines the fact that we are missing our fourth. As a friend of mine says: “I have one child in my arms but two in my heart.”

Ryan lives in Tulsa, OK with his partner and son. He’ll be blogging about his journey here, but you can also find him at his personal blog, Pride in Life, where he blogs about design, family, and anything else that comes to mind.

2 Comments

  1. Josh says:

    Ryan – I’m so enjoying following your decision making around Kid-O #2. I recently listened to a BBC doc. about Indian surrogacy. It seems clearly fraught with all sorts of issues–and I agree there’s not one way of looking at it. And it’s not exactly like adoption is uncomplicated. Anyway, it’s interesting to get your take on it. Am looking forward to the next installment….

    Reply
  2. Douglas says:

    Surrogacy in India is a huge and expanding business. Some of the most popular doctors in India do reuse surrogates and egg donors. Our surrogate had never been a surrogate before and she lived with her family at home during her pregnancy. Our egg donor only donated for us. Both were Indian, and we trusted the doctor we worked with to make ethical decisions. There are so many clinics and so many options that thorough investigations are completely necessary. But for us, we felt completely comfortable with our Indian surrogacy experience.

    Reply

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