Global Surrogacy Companies In India
The outside of New Life’s fertility centre is not amazing.. perfectly fine, blends in with the rest of Delhi. When we get inside, what is striking is the number of young Indian women in the waiting area. Attractive, healthy women, dressed in colorful saris, who clearly had taken the time to look their best, all sitting and waiting for appointments. Sonia, the surrogate and egg donor coordinator, came out to greet us and brought us back to her office. We asked who the women were in the waiting room… she said they were potential surrogates, there for their initial screening process. I must admit, the group of women looked healthy and happy to us. They did not appear malnourished or uncomfortable. Sonia said they had lots of cycles coming up and surrogates coming in all the time to apply with their clinic to become surrogates. She did teach us something new… she said that Indian surrogates ‘shop around.’ Much like the surrogates here in the U.S. do. That they meet or talk with different agencies/clinics and then determine which will give them the best deal or which one they feel most comfortable with.
New Life is a global company with branches around the world. In a way, they are perfectly situated for the global fertility market because they are able to draw from a number of their other resources. For instance, they have divisions that can bring in egg donors from Ukraine, Poland and South Africa… in fact, they’ve got a database of egg donors for potential Intended Parents to look at. This potentially works well for Caucasian Intended Parents as working within New Life for both your surrogate and egg donor will likely be less expensive than bringing in a Caucasian egg donor from the United States (although there are some great agencies doing this right now.. but I digress, that’s for another blog or article!). The potential downside of working with such a large company is that the doctors are not as intimately involved with the business end and therefore don’t know much about the financials involved (more than once we were referred to New Life’s website for any cost questions we had.)
Most of New Life’s surrogates live at home… not in surrogate housing (though they do have one available but we did not see it) and most live within a 10-15 minute range from the clinic, although given the traffic in Delhi, that could mean an hour commute! Before they accept a surrogate into their program, Sonia goes to meet with them at their home. She talks with the surrogate’s husband and her in-laws. She finds that most have very supportive family members. Once they’ve signed on with the program and of course when they’re pregnant, Sonia checks in with the surrogates at their homes at least 2x a month. Her visits are unannounced and she says that she’s yet to find anything out of sorts about any of the homes she’s visited. She said that in a way because her visits are unannounced, the surrogates are always ‘ready’ for her.
One of the things about the pregnant Indian surrogates that we met that was a bit confusing to us (though we realize now it’s just a cultural difference) is that when we went to any of the surrogate housing, we no doubt would find the surrogates sitting around watching television. We couldn’t help but wonder if all they did was sit around and watch television. (I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, we just wondered if they were getting any exercise at all and if things might be different if they lived at home with their families.) Sonia relayed a cute story to us that put this idea to rest. She said that one day, she showed up at one of her surrogate’s homes to find the surrogate and a friend sitting on a couch watching tv while the husband was doing the laundry. They begged Sonia not to say anything to the other surrogates, not because they didn’t want to be perceived as lazy but rather they didn’t want the surrogate’s husband to be embarrassed that he was caught doing the laundry!
New Life’s IVF India program is run by Dr. Deeksha Tyagi. Currently, New Life India has about 27-28 surrogates in various stages of pregnancy and most of their Intended Parents come from the US, UK, and Australia. The surrogates get paid roughly 7000 US dollars with smaller monthly installments and the main amount at delivery of the baby. This is another thing we found interesting… different agencies and clinics had different payment structures for their surrogates… while some were paid more akin to the US standard (pregnancy payments every month), many still adhered to the general principle that the bulk of payment only came once the baby was delivered. For Kathryn and I this was an important consideration, one which we will discuss further in a later article or blog posting.
Typically New Life and Dr. Tyagi do day 3 transfers and will put up to 3 embryos into a surrogate. They believe in using the same surrogate for at least 3 tries (assuming there is nothing wrong with her uterine lining or health of course.) Her singleton success rate is 60%, twin rate is 40% (remember, these are self reported.)
Sonia and Dr. Tyagi agree that the IPs can communicate with the surrogate if they’d like, and they can choose the surrogate, although Dr. Tyagi says that most IPs leave that choice up to her. And perhaps it works better that way – after all, she has the surrogates in front of her, she knows who might be a better candidate than another. Once a pregnancy is established, Sonia says the IPs are welcome to visit the surrogate at her home – and that generally the surrogates are happy to see their IPs. Of course none of the surrogates speak English. We did get the sense that Sonia cared about her surrogates and that she was trying to have them be open to the more Western way of thinking where there is some bonding between IPs and surrogate. But to be honest, how much bonding can go on between couples who cannot speak the same language and do not have immediate access to phones/ipads/skype etc. Most of the surrogates do give birth at a hospital near where they live and and Sonia says she is always at the birth and that the IPs are more than welcome to be in the birthing room (this is another question that consistently elicited mixed answers from various agencies, etc).
While New Life has been around for some time now, their Delhi clinic is only a year old. But so far they seem to be doing a fairly strong business. Had we had more time, we would have liked to have visited some of the surrogates’ homes – just so we can dispel any myths and see for ourselves what their surroundings would be like. But we’ll have to save that for next time!