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Exclusive: Rise in number of couples seeking 'wombs for hire' abroad

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Increase in British couples turning to poor foreign surrogate mothers to have their babies 

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Wealthy British couples who cannot have children are increasingly seeking "wombs for hire" from women overseas, according to figures obtained by The Independent.

The number of couples formally registering children born to foreign surrogates has nearly trebled in five years, raising concerns that poor women in developing countries are being exploited by rich Westerners.

"Parental orders" granted following surrogacy – to transfer the child from the surrogate mother to the commissioning parents – have risen from 47 in 2007 to 133 in 2011.

While the figures are still relatively small, experts say they understate the true scale of the trade which is driven by agencies operating in countries such as India, drawn by a lack of red tape and the absence of regulation.

There are parallels with the trade in inter-country adoption 20 years ago, when hundreds of children from impoverished families in eastern Europe and the developing world were "sold" to wealthy foreigners, with few checks on their suitability, they claim.

Commercial surrogacy is permitted in the US and in many other countries including India, where it was legalised in 2002.

But it is banned in Britain and only expenses may be paid – making it difficult for UK couples where neither partner is able to bear children to find women prepared to volunteer for the role.

In 2010 the law was changed to allow gay and lesbian couples and unmarried heterosexual couples to use surrogates for the first time, boosting demand further.

Events such as the Alternative Families Show, which acts as a showcase for surrogacy agencies overseas, regularly draw large crowds. The impact can be seen in the increasing numbers of wealthy British couples who are going abroad where there are fewer restrictions and a surrogate womb can be rented from £10,000 to £20,000. Some do so after trying and failing to have a baby by in-vitro fertilisation, directed by doctors who have been treating them.

"We have clinicians in this country who have links with overseas clinics. That was stopped with international adoption years ago. I don't think the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has been strong enough on this," said Marilyn Crawshaw, senior lecturer in the University of York's department of social policy, who published the figures on parental orders in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law.

"There is concern about child trafficking. The World Health Organisation held a meeting on this. One report described a surrogacy ring in Thailand in 2011 in which 13 Vietnamese women, seven of them pregnant, had been trafficked for the purpose of acting as surrogates. Other reports have highlighted concerns about the exploitation of Indian surrogates."

Ms Crawshaw said evidence suggested that the number of children born in India to commissioning parents from the UK was "well in excess" of the cases known to official sources, making monitoring very difficult.

"US social workers have warned that the decline in inter-country adoption may be leading to its replacement by global surrogacy as the preferred route for those wanting to build their family with a 'healthy' infant but with no less concerns among professionals as to associated ethical dilemmas and human rights concerns," she said.

Natalie Gamble, a lawyer specialising in surrogacy cases, added: "We have got this phenomenon where people can go overseas and do deals with commercial agencies and then come back and ask for a parental order.

"The law of our land says you cannot buy and sell babies. But the judges end up granting the parental order, with just a rap on the knuckles for the parents, on the grounds that the welfare of the child is paramount.

"When people went overseas to adopt, safeguards were put in place to stop the buying and selling of children. Are we going to have the same problems again with overseas surrogacy?"

Case study: 'It was awkward when the mother had to hand over our twins'

We both found it very hard to keep it together. It was a very emotional time. We could never have imagined it a couple of years ago."

Stephen Hill and his partner Johnathon Busher first held their twin girls in their arms less than 12 hours after their birth in a Delhi hospital last April.

The gay couple, from the West Midlands, had been together for 18 years when they decided they wanted a family.

In 2011, they travelled to India and agreed a contract with a clinic in Delhi where Mr Hill's sperm was used to fertilise an egg from a donor they had selected, and the resulting embryo was implanted in a surrogate mother.

When the twins were born there was an "awkward moment" before the surrogate mother agreed to hand them over, as her husband had been telling medical staff the infants were his own.

"She was reminded that it was a deal and she was fine. She was a little bit too attached and she needed to be reminded," Mr Busher said. "We produced the contract and we were able to take them out of the hospital. We were so happy our feet didn't touch the ground."

source

by on Dec. 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Replies (41-50):
jaxTheMomm
by Platinum Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM

These women do have control of their bodies, at least in the documentary I saw.  Nothing to do with this.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

What happened to women being in control of their bodies?  Why judge this?


Claire-Huxtable
by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

It has everything to do with this.

People are judging these women hiring them and judging those renting out their wombs because they find it icky or morally wrong to use their bodies like this.

Quoting jaxTheMomm:

These women do have control of their bodies, at least in the documentary I saw.  Nothing to do with this.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

What happened to women being in control of their bodies?  Why judge this?



darlingdaisy
by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:10 AM

 

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 I find it kind of icky. Renting a womb for compensation and not because you really want to help a childless couple? This just doesn't sit well with me, esp after the poster posted about the documentary she watched.

I agree its icky.  The difference between renting your womb and prostitution is?  Both is selling your body for a profit.

jaxTheMomm
by Platinum Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Ah, I see.  I don't know that anyone is exactly judging these women as much as the entire scenario.

It reeks of taking advantage of a woman's poverty in exchange for her body for 9 months.  But as I said, those women might tell us to STFU as it's the only way they can get their families out of poverty.

The potential dangers I see are trafficking, buying and selling of babies, forcing women, etc.  Will every one of these surrogates be as safe and cared for as the women in the documentary I saw were?  That kind of thing.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

It has everything to do with this.

People are judging these women hiring them and judging those renting out their wombs because they find it icky or morally wrong to use their bodies like this.

Quoting jaxTheMomm:

These women do have control of their bodies, at least in the documentary I saw.  Nothing to do with this.

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

What happened to women being in control of their bodies?  Why judge this?




Claire-Huxtable
by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:23 AM

So as long as you give it away, it is fine?   It is just a problem once money changes hands?

Quoting darlingdaisy:

 

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 I find it kind of icky. Renting a womb for compensation and not because you really want to help a childless couple? This just doesn't sit well with me, esp after the poster posted about the documentary she watched.

I agree its icky.  The difference between renting your womb and prostitution is?  Both is selling your body for a profit.


lga1965
by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

 Surrogacy is becoming quite common in America....is there a difference?

http://www.ssa-agency.com/Default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

WritingMom777
by Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Unfortunately, there are a lot of desperate couples out there who long for a child.  Adoption in the USA is not easy.  While there are always those who can point to "swift" domestic adoptions, the reality is that most parents trying to adopt a child domestically have several "failures" first.  I have personally met several couples who submitted thousands of dollars for an adoption, only to have the birth mom back out at the last minute.  One couple had the infant at home for two weeks when the Mom changed her mind and the family had to return the child.  For them it was like their child had died.  Children in foster care, readily available to adopt are often in their teens or have severe special needs.  And I'm sorry, but taking on a teen when you would like a baby to raise is not the same thing.  

As long as the US places more rights on the birth parents (even when those parents have abused those children and had them taken away by the state) then infertile couples will be forced to look elsewhere to try to have a family of their own.  It breaks my heart that the younger children often languish in multiple foster homes - sometimes for years - because society thinks it is better that they are with their "real" parents.  

If we could clean up the domestic adoption laws to focus on the well-being of the child rather than on the well-being of the parent (even if said parent has harmed their own children) then you would have very few children in the foster care system and far fewer families seeking out children in other countries (whether through surrogacy or adoption).  

As to the women who are surrogates, that is tricky.  Are some women being taken advantage of?  Absolutely.  I prefer adoption myself.  But I can not judge another woman's desperation (whether it be to provide for her children through being a surrogate or wanting a child so desperately that she feels she must consider surrogacy).  Definitely this is a complex subject and there should be safeguards for all involved.

darlingdaisy
by on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:23 PM

 It just seems odd to sell a child.  If you sell your body its called prostitution right?

 

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

So as long as you give it away, it is fine?   It is just a problem once money changes hands?

Quoting darlingdaisy:

 

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 I find it kind of icky. Renting a womb for compensation and not because you really want to help a childless couple? This just doesn't sit well with me, esp after the poster posted about the documentary she watched.

I agree its icky.  The difference between renting your womb and prostitution is?  Both is selling your body for a profit.

 

 

jaxTheMomm
by Platinum Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:28 PM

But they aren't selling a child - they are renting out their wombs for 9 months.  They are surrogates, not biological mothers of the child they carry.

Prostitution is the exchange of sexual favors for money.

Quoting darlingdaisy:

 It just seems odd to sell a child.  If you sell your body its called prostitution right?

 

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

So as long as you give it away, it is fine?   It is just a problem once money changes hands?

Quoting darlingdaisy:

 

Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 I find it kind of icky. Renting a womb for compensation and not because you really want to help a childless couple? This just doesn't sit well with me, esp after the poster posted about the documentary she watched.

I agree its icky.  The difference between renting your womb and prostitution is?  Both is selling your body for a profit.


 


mehamil1
by Platinum Member on Dec. 30, 2012 at 12:51 PM

I think in order for it to be prostituion sex needs to be involved in some form. 

Quoting darlingdaisy:

 It just seems odd to sell a child.  If you sell your body its called prostitution right?

Quoting Claire-Huxtable:

So as long as you give it away, it is fine?   It is just a problem once money changes hands?

Quoting darlingdaisy:
Quoting TruthSeeker.:

 I find it kind of icky. Renting a womb for compensation and not because you really want to help a childless couple? This just doesn't sit well with me, esp after the poster posted about the documentary she watched.

I agree its icky.  The difference between renting your womb and prostitution is?  Both is selling your body for a profit.


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