I just came across this short documentary of a Dutch couple beginning their surrogacy journey in Hyderbad:
Category Archives: surrogacy
It is finally available for sale! You can read all about the author and the book as well as purchase your own copy of the book here: http://www.childrensurrogacybook.com/index.html#bookmark5
This newest children’s book is authored and illustrated by Sofia Prezani who had her son through a surrogacy arrangement in the UK. What a fantastic gift to her son!
‘Made in India’ was filmed in 2008 in Mumbai. The film looks at IP, surrogate and clinic perspectives led primarily by the journey of the American intended parents. I heard about the film early in 2011 and saw it first at a screening in the Habitat center in Delhi later that year. Vaishali and Rebecca, the creators of the film, have been encouraging outreach sessions in India. You can have a look at some of the reactions to the film during these outreach sessions here.
Here is what Vaishali and Rebecca have to say about why they made the film and a little about there own backgrounds:
We come from a background of social justice work, with particular interest in reproductive rights, sexuality and human rights. When we first heard about “outsourcing” surrogacy to India in 2007, we were captivated by the myriad of issues that emerge from this subject matter at the crossroads of body politics, reproductive technologies and globalization.
At the time when we started filming, we noticed that any mainstream conversations around this issue tended to be very polarized: either promoting or condemning the practice. We wanted to bring a nuance to the story that would offer the audience a closer understanding of the intended couple’s and the surrogate’s choices behind their decisions. We wanted to take this intimate journey with all the players involved. Of course, we had no idea how the story would end up, but we trusted that if we let events unfold on their own – all the questions we were interested in exploring would emerge organically. As a result, the film really challenges viewers to come to their own conclusions about the practice.
We set out to create a film that captured the entire surrogacy process as it unfolded. Often this meant something like the amazing race for the film crew as we raced from Texas to Mumbai and back again! In addition to the parallel stories of the western commissioning parents and the surrogate, the “Reproductive Tourism” industry emerged as a key player in this process, as did US and Indian Government bodies. Today the international surrogacy industry is growing exponentially. However, in countries such as India, the process is taking place without regulation, and without adequate judicial recourse for the surrogates, the commissioning parents or the children. Similarly new medical tourism businesses are growing in the US and abroad without a proper code of conduct and ethics in place.
“Made in India” highlights the human stories behind a complex process while raising immediate concerns over women’s health and rights.
‘Sacha, The little Bright Shooting Star’ by Sofia Prezani is now available to purchase. It is the most recent children’s book aimed at children born through a surrogacy arrangement. I will include a link to purchase the book soon. The illustrations are fantastic! Take a look at the preview of the cover:
Jenni Millbank – ”Keeping surrogacy onshore would … provide a far greater opportunity for harm minimisation objectives to be pursued’
An interview with Jenni Millbank was reported in the SMH today. Prof. Millbank explains that the most logical avenue for the law would be to allow a form of commercial surrogacy in Australia. Here is an extract, well actually most of the article:
Jenni Millbank, a professor of law at the University of Technology Sydney and an expert in surrogacy law, described the legal situation around surrogacy as chaotic and the Australian approach as a ”manifest failure”.
She said states’ bans on commercial surrogacy might have afforded children less protection, and a wage-based compensation for local surrogate mothers might help reduce incentives for overseas travel. ”Keeping surrogacy onshore would … provide a far greater opportunity for harm minimisation objectives to be pursued”, she said.
Professor Millbank said under the Family Law Act, and state and territory law, children brought into the country were not considered the legal children of the intended parents regardless of relinquishment documents, foreign birth certificates, and the granting of citizenship.
”The woman who gave birth and her consenting husband or partner are the legal parents under our family law,” she said.
That left the Immigration Department in a quandary: ”It’s trying to prevent children born through international commercial surrogacy arrangements from being rendered stateless orphans,” she said.
Once in Australia, the intended parents could go through legal processes to gain a transfer of parental rights from the birth parent.
About 14 cases had ended in the Family Court of Australia to gain parental responsibility orders. Professor Millbank argued the Family Court gives much less consideration to the matter of the birth mother’s informed consent – one of the few safeguards available to ensure the child’s welfare.
”You can have children in any one of a dozen ways; it doesn’t determine whether you’re going to be an abusive parent,” she said. ”’You only have to look at child abuse figures to see the vast majority of abusers are heterosexual men. It doesn’t mean fathers everywhere should go through criminal record checks.”
It was really great to read Prof. Millbank’s recommendations this morning after the Catholic Archbiship Hickey’s statement was given air time on Sunrise this morning. The AB stated that he felt “modern families” are damaging children. I’m not sure how the ABs opinion is relevant to thought on surrogacy. It would make more sense to give more air time to scholars and experts. The recent relevant scholarship on the welfare and psychological well being of children (see Susan Golombok’s work for example, and send me a message if you’d like more refs. on this topic) demonstrates that parents’ gender does not impact the well being of children, a stable and loving family is what makes all the difference and as Prof. Millbank points out in the article above “the vast majority of abusers are heterosexual men”.
Australia is unquestionably behind when it comes to infrastructure supporting families. Where European countries such as the Netherlands offer paid parental leave that is on par with the salary earned prior to taking parental leave for up to 12 months, the Australian government offers “taxable payments of $543.78 per week for 18 weeks, a total of $9788.” When the average weekly income in both public and private sectors in Australia is $1376.30 the federal government is clearly falling short. Families are left to either rely on; their employers offering fair paid parental leave; having to save and wait to have to have a baby; having to put young babies in child care to return to work or; suffering financially to be the main carer of their young children. I find myself wanting to say “at least there is some parental pay now” where previously new parents in Australia were only entitled to a one of baby bonus off around $5000. However, these payments are less than the minimum wage, $589.30 – it is difficult to grapple with the logic here. Employers are free to offer their own parental leave packages for employees and these tend to be more generous and realistic, after all, the companies pay off is a happy employee bringing their specific skill set and experience back to the company.
The SMH reported today that a mother who had her child through gestational surrogacy is being denied paid parental leave by her employer, the State government:
The Crown Employees (Public Service Conditions of Employment) Award 2009 has provisions for maternal and adoption leave only and the Premier’s personnel handbook stipulates these do not apply to ”foster or surrogacy situations”.
It is shocking to see that the State government is discriminating against this parent and child in this way. The SMH quotes the mother saying:
”I’ve got a baby, the woman who adopts has got a baby, the woman who, fortunately for her, has had a baby; we’re all in the same boat,” she said. ”We all, thank god, go home with a baby but those two get paid parenting leave and I don’t.”
From what I understand Linda Burney‘s case against commercial surrogacy was all about the welfare of the child – how will this form of discrimination against children born through surrogacy and their parents protect the best interests of the child?
Here is the link to a recent Sunrise episode. Two dad’s through surrogacy, with their baby girls, talk about adoption in Australia and why commercial surrogacy overseas has become a more popular option for gay and infertile couples in Australia. Here are some of the key issues from their perspectives in relation to commercial surrogacy:
– inequality toward same sex couples in relation to adoption overseas
– the adoption process in Australia taking many years and rarely resulting in an actual adoption for the majority of applicants.
– co-parenting that can result from altruistic surrogacy arrangements in Australia
– current stigma surrounding commercial surrogacy
This film looks really interesting. It seems to be about an Indian lady who works as a commercial surrogate and then chooses to keep the child. It explores the rights of the surrogate mother over the child it seems. This theme was one of the more interesting themes raised at the recent conference on surrogacy in Gujurat. The idea of the contract, breaking the contract and the place and rights of the surrogate mother in relation to the child. From what I gather this film is only available in Murathi, I will post more info. when I find it. I have spoken with some women who who have worked as gestational surrogates in India and have not come across any who would be interested in keeping the child they carry. It is interesting that there is possibly a difference between the actual issues and the perceived issues. But again, I have not seen the film yet so I will post more when I have.
According to a report in The Foreigner Norway does not yet have clear guidelines when in comes to surrogacy arrangements. On the one hand it is not surprising seeing as many western countries are only just beginning to clarify where they stand in surrogacy arrangements on the other it is strange to have such conflicting advice coming from the same bureaucratic organisation. A Norweign couple chose to use a gestational surrogate in the US after carefully researching the procedures in Norway and taking advice from the NAV (labour and welfare organisation). The couple went ahead with the surrogacy arrangement and had twins. When registering the children upon returning to Norway the couple were told that according to the state the children were considered to be the children of the surrogate, rather then the genetic parents. The genetic parents have been told that they must adopt their children, a long and drawn our process.
It seems that logic and reason fail once again where the state is drawing on laws that do not relate to the current situation. It seems that Australia is not the only country in need of more research into surrogacy in relation to families and law.