Call centers, customer service, adopted North American names and conversations about the weather from around the world. Outsourcing, no matter how you feel about it, is part of our lives and looks like it’s here to stay. But I’ve never, in a million years, imagined that we’d be outsourcing wombs.
International adoption is, by now, old news in the U.S. Adoption is, after-all, a long and tedious process here. Not to mention the many states that make it impossible for would-be LGBT parents to adopt. Going overseas to make one’s dreams come true is sometimes the only option. But now we’ve taken our import/export endeavors a step further, and international surrogacy is on the rise.
Instead of call centers, India is seeing an increase in boarding homes for women who have wombs for rent. Compensation of about $5,000 is the exchange for becoming a surrogate mother in India. International surrogacy is becoming popular in the Ukraine as well for North American families looking for women to carry their babies. Compare that to the $20,000 to over $100,000 it can cost to attempt IVF or surrogacy in the United States.
Because the trend is so new, little legislation exists to regulate the process. Who would be deemed responsible, for instance, in a case of infant or maternal mortality? Or biological parents who, for whatever reasons, decide they no longer want the baby? Such was the case of an abandoned child of Japanese parents born in India. The parents divorced while the surrogate carried their child, and neither party wanted to care for their baby. Luckily, India will begin to regulate international surrogacy.
Although LGBT relationships have been decriminalized in India, hopeful LGBT parents will not be able to pursue parenthood through international surrogacy.
One other aspect of regulation will be placing a limit on how often a woman can rent out her womb. Most outsourced babies are born via cesarean delivery, putting the surrogate mother at risk. Cesarean birth is major abdominal surgery that becomes more dangerous and risky with each new pregnancy/surgery. Sometimes, when we want children and can’t have them without medical intervention we’ll attempt whatever is possible to bring us that bundle of joy. There’s still so little known about the long term effects of the drugs involved on both the surrogate mother and the baby, that I’m not sure I could take the risk.
Zippi Brand Frank’s HBO documentary Google Baby delves into the issue and sheds much needed light.