Saturday, 21 April 2018

Surrogate Mother- Fulfilling Dreams For Years

Starting a family is a long-cherished dream in everyone's life. But there are many people who are not fortunate enough to realize their dream of being blessed naturally, there are many who are waiting for long to have their own children, for one reason or another, this can be due to their inability to conceive or carry pregnancy to its term like for  women suffering from severe debilitating illnesses such as Severe Diabetes, Hypertension, cardiac, liver or kidney disease wherein they can get pregnant but cannot carry a pregnancy to term without jeopardising their and the babies health or maybe it is medically not possible for them to conceive like in case woman suffering from MRKH syndrome or women who have to undergo chemo or radiation therapy because of different kinds of cancers and many such factors.

Further adding to this delay in planning families, increasing stress and changing lifestyles have hugely contributed to the increase in infertility rates as-well as are cause of immense concern in pregnancy Term.

For such patients Surrogacy is a last resort of Infertility Treatment after all other attempts medical avenues have failed.

Surrogacy consists of many parties, the Intended Parents, Medical facility where the process is being carried out, the ART Bank and the Surrogate Mother herself.

Much has been debated in Media about the process as a whole, about how Intended Parents,  Medical Facilities, ART Banks, and Surrogate Mothers have benefitted from this process or otherwise. But focus of such debates on Surrogate Mother either stops on the remuneration she receives in a poor country like India or either on the exploitation point of view. Later one, which the media portrays often as it helps them gain their T.R.P.

Through this article we would like to bring true picture and a positive prospective of what happens to a Surrogate Mother; emotionally/ financially/ health wise/ family wise and reasons, benefits etc. from the period she decides to become a Surrogate to the day she delivers and handovers the child to the Intended Parents.

Surrogate Mothers are often stated as selfless and special women, willing to help childless couples have the best gift of their lives. Intended parents opting for Surrogacy have to rely on the Surrogate Mothers for delivery of their children and this method has been into practice for ages now.

How a Surrogate Mother is recruited

The surrogacy clinic implements a proper surrogate screening process for ensuring that surrogates are physically and mentally stable to bear someone else’s child. For becoming a Surrogate Mother in India, the woman has to deliver a child of her own first and should have experience in parenting at least one. She should not have more than 2 children or should not have been through more than 2 deliveries. The woman must have uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as well documented by the medical records. Age also plays a major factor while consulting a woman willing to become a Surrogate Mother. She should be within a span of 21 to 35 years of age and with normal height and weight patterns. Surrogate Mother needs to be a legal resident of the country where she is planning to bear the child of Intended parents.

Why become a Surrogate Mother

In a country like India there are many factors that play a role in one’s life, that propel them to make hard decisions. Considering the fact that even after 70 Years of independence 30% of population of India still is below poverty line speaks much, which is also 1/3rd of the total world population who are poor.   

Often for such strata of society, they rely on daily earning jobs or agriculture for their day to day living. In case of jobs of daily wages, the wages for such people vary from somewhere at Rs.100 a day or US $ 1.8 to Rs. 600 a day or US $ 10 and are often seasonal. And due to gender inequality prevailing in the society Women often end up getting somewhere near lower end of such limits. Now with rising inflation and increasing families lies a dilemma of at-least feeding themselves and the children, bearing necessary medical expenses and educating their offspring.

Indian Population is very bearing and at first they try to reduce, and then due to lack of reach of banks into villages are forced to approach local money lenders who charge exorbitant rates of interest for lending and thus often families fall in debt trap.

Still the agriculture system in India is often dependant on Monsoon or seasonal rains, one failure of season and the entire future of the family is in jeopardy as families borrow huge amounts for cultivation expecting good seasonal rains and hence are unable to repay.

Then there are also women who are divorced or separated (In absence of proper knowledge of legal system and courts or in rural areas) or who have never married due to their financial conditions who are again looking for an avenue to earn their livelihood.

Now such families who want either, to repay their family debts, educate and create a future for their children, improve the future of their families, use the remuneration they receive to create a new source of income for themselves or their families decide to become a Surrogate Mother. Income they derive from this process if successful if in a span of 12 months is approx. 3 Lacs in our centre, which comes around to Rs. 800 a day or 24000 a month which even most graduates with experience of more than 4 years would not earn in India and is mostly sufficient enough for them to at-least create a new future for themselves and their families.

There have been instances of children of Surrogate Mothers coming to our centre who are pursuing their Lower Secondary or Higher Secondary visiting our centre to visit their mothers, children of all of the Surrogate Mothers are gaining education in some school and we are encouraging all of them to do so, there are instances wherein we have been invited to open a tailor shop or grocery shop and even a e-seva centre’s for providing government services available through internet of women who were Surrogate Mothers earlier at our centre, instances of such families buying lands and cultivating in them we have heard of and this makes us proud, this makes us happy and satisfied. Such instances give us a feeling of fulfilment wherein we have been able to support a neglected part of a society and have been able to support or in a way create a new future for a family or an individual.

To encourage this prospect and with our intent of building futures of families, over the years’ time and again we have invited self-help groups (S.H.G.’s) who are involved in imparting training of alternative professions like handicrafts, tailoring, pottery, computer training, education etc. to the premises of ART Banks to impart Surrogate Mothers with such training to enable them to create their future.

Now compare this positive vibes with the negative news surrounding exploitation. This gives us immense satisfaction as through this process of Surrogate Parenting, we have not only built a future of family of Intended Parents but also of the selfless and special women called Surrogate Mothers.

In the Process

Now once it is determined that woman is fit to be a Surrogate Mother, then she is resides in the premises of the A.R.T. bank preferably in premises in proximity to the Hospital with a view on her health and to address any medical complications if arises. Here she is made to understand the entire process including the details of agreement she will be undertaking with Intended Parent, payment and its terms. These are documented in English as-well as vernacular language of the Surrogate Mother. In case the Woman is unable to write or read a person who is fluent in her mother tongue explains her in detail the entire process enabling her to make a informed decision.

In this phase once the woman who has decided to become Surrogate Mother has many doubts often cold nerves regarding the entire process. Doubts that whether she will be Pregnant or not, what will happen if she is pregnant, will she be able to carry the pregnancy to its term or not. She is resided within the premises of ART bank to ensure that she is placed in an environment wherein she is able to communicate with other such ladies who are already under the process to calm her nerves. A Doctor who also acts as a Counsellor meets her one to one in a meeting where an attempt is made to clarify all her doubts and address all her apprehensions. The reason for housing them in such premises is also to ensure that the process she is in as a Surrogate Mother is brought to a logical successful end with delivery of a healthy child and thereby also satisfying her purpose of attaining good financial remuneration. With her being in close observation of the medical facility the chances of successful pregnancy resulting in delivery of the child is maximised by leaps and bounds. It is ensured that for at-least a week she is time and again counselled and all pros and cons of joining this process is made known to her before actual start of the medical process.

Thereafter once the medical process starts after her full satisfaction, with an eye on the common complications like nausea etc. that occur during pregnancy a diet plan is designed by the nutritionist to ensure to minimize the discomfort to her, she is provided options of indoor games like caroms, chess and local tribal games for her entertainment and to divert her attention and clam her nerves. A TV set is provided for every batch of 6 Surrogate Mothers for their entertainment as-well. She has her own phone or a phone is provided by ART Bank to ensure that she is in touch with her near and dear ones. Noteworthy small children of such Surrogate Mothers are allowed to reside with them to ensure the well-being of them as-well.

She is trained and counselled for leading a clean and healthy life style and is instructed to undertake common exercises like walking or yoga for them to be healthy. Food provided to them is also sent to the Hospital for the Doctors to check the same on the quality, nutritional value and taste. Appropriate items for daily chores like clothing sets, bedding sets, soaps & bars etc. are provided to them individually at regular intervals. They are counselled in common etiquette's for clean and healthy living to minimize the chances of any kinds of diseases or infections. Daily a physician visits the premises to ensure that a disease or ailment in timely diagnosed and cured and they are advised to visit the Hospital Premises based on a fixed schedule and appointment to ensure their comfort. A trained nurse or a mid-wife is also housed in the premises to ensure their safety and well-being.

Once Embryo Transfer process is completed, the Surrogate Mothers who are Pregnant are allowed to stay in the premises and those who have not impregnated are allowed to leave and go to their home as per their comfort with appropriate compensation provided to them for such process to take place. A payment plan is designed for them in a way that in course of the process and during the pregnancy depending on the progress an optimum amount is given to them so that in case of failure of such embryo transfers or in case of miscarriage she receives monies to be part of the process. Noteworthy this detail is also informed to the Surrogate Mother before enrollment.

Those who are pregnant are monitored and appropriate daily plan is designed for them to ensure their well-being and to inculcate good habits that they can even carry to their respective homes after the process enabling them as ambassadors of Healthy India. Medication to them is provided for fixed intervals of time and mid wife ensures that they take their medication and diets on time. A weekly meeting is fixed for them with physician apart of her regular medical consultations only to address their non-medical apprehensions and to calm their nerves.

In case of family functions or emergencies where their presence is required it is ensured that they are allowed to attend it and are sent to their homes with one of their family members and for those in the later stages of pregnancy are accompanied by mid wives to ensure their health and well-being.

In later stages of pregnancy the anxiousness to deliver and go to their respective homes increases in Surrogate Mothers and at times can have adverse effects on pregnancy like hypertension etc. To facilitate Surrogate Mother through this stage which is the most difficult stage in pregnancy an attempt is made to keep her occupied in some activity or other by S.H.G’s to divert her mind. She is kept under close observation of mid-wife and people with some kind of complications are shifted to the facility providing Gynaecology Services to ensure her safety. For rest of the women, as and when need arises as they go into labour, they are shifted to a specialized facility providing world-class Gynaecology  and Paediatric Services to ensure well-being of the Surrogate Mothers as-well as the child/ children being born. 

The Medication and Services provided to the Surrogate Mothers during their stay in our partner facility which is one of the renowned and high-end facilities in Hyderabad providing Gynaecology and Pediatric Services is same as they provide to their regular patients again ensuring well- being of this woman who through her noble act has brought smiles and future of unknown people by helping them become parents, which otherwise would not have been possible.

Post birth of child, she is allowed to keep the child for appropriate time with her and a small meeting is arranged with Intended Parents to ensure that she is satisfied that the child born through her is safe hands. It is advised that parents bring gifts with them for the Surrogate Mother to soothe her and to give her the feeling of the parents being obliged and thankful towards her. In case of parents who are unable to meet the Surrogate Mothers for some reason, Hospital arranges a gift set given to her on behalf of the parents only to bring a smile on the face of this great woman who through her noble act has brought smiles and future of unknown people by helping them become parents.

Thus in this process of Surrogate Motherhood, which is even not regulated by Law, we ensure that each step we undertake is ethically and morally correct and in a way contributes in building a healthy society and healthy nation and bring smiles to all the parties involved.

Nothing can replace the joy of a smile of a child and this article is a tribute to these great women who through their noble act continue to bring smiles and future of unknown people by helping them become parents by going through pains and hurdles. It is an attempt to bring in a positive side of Surrogacy and Surrogate Mother that has been neglected by the sections of society which has often criticized the process and has viewed this process as only a means to exploitation of woman. It is a tribute to the strength and power of woman, who only has the power to give life and then donate her smile. A tribute to a Mother special and valuable than others a “Surrogate Mother”.