HYDERABAD: The tagline of an advertisement for an online classified site, “Sab kuch bikta hai” sums up how anything from furniture to gizmos to bikes can be sold online. In a different concept of ‘where buyers meet sellers,’ websites like www.surrogatefinder.com provide a platform for women willing to be surrogate mothers to those in search of one. The one-stop websites for those who opt for Assisted Reproductive technology to conceive, the sites have the profile of egg donors, sperm donors and women interested in being surrogates.
There are over 200 profiles on surrogatefinder.com from Hyderabad alone and these include those who want to donate eggs, sperms and want to be surrogate mothers. There are 13 profiles from the state under the category of surrogate mothers. Most of them cite financial problems or responsibilities for getting into this business.
One can find descriptions like ‘amber eyes, black hair and 163 cm in height and 26 year-old’ in profiles of potential surrogate mothers. One can contact the person after registering with the site at a steep 99.99 pounds for six months. On an average, surrogate mothers are paid anywhere between Rs 3.5-4 lakh, enough to pull them out of loans with enough to spare.
A 25-year-old woman from Hyderabad, Meenakshi Devi offers to be a surrogate mother due to financial crisis at home. Her appeal to interested couples reads, “Please, give me a chance to be a surrogate mother to your children and save my life and as well as my daughter’s future.”
Apart from these women who go online to offer their services, generally, those stepping into surrogacy do so due to financial reasons and are just matriculates or less in terms of qualification. “Hardly any urban women who are educated step forward to be surrogates. There is a mixed percentage of women who opt for surrogacy, with about 60 per cent hailing from rural areas. In the developed countries, educated women and even college students do not mind being surrogates or egg donors as there is no stigma attached,” says Dr Samit Sekhar, chief embryologist at Kiran Infertility Centre in the city. He adds the candidates for surrogacy volunteer out of financial compulsions such as debts and losses.
Direct interaction between couples and surrogates through the website is unheard of in fertility clinics in the city. “Usually, we get in touch with NGOs who approach interested candidates. A majority of them prefer to stay at their homes during pre-natal stage and visit us for bi-weekly check-ups. We do not carry out traditional surrogacy where the egg comes from the surrogate mother as it leads to complications where the surrogate might lay a claim on the child,” says Dr Shekhar.
While it is the norm to carry out physical and psychological tests for surrogates apart from counseling and hormone treatment, the range of care provided to those who approach interested parents directly online or otherwise is undetermined.