India has become a popular destination for families wanting to use a surrogate to have children. While leaving New Zealand allows them to avoid what can be a long wait, it’s by no means an easy journey.
Take the Ashcrofts for instance. The Ashcrofts’ twin daughters Nicole and Peta were born to Kali Ashari, their surrogate mother, while Paul and Angela Ashcroft were on a plane, flying somewhere over Australia, when their twin daughters Nicole and Peta were born. “Paul and I looked at each other and the sun was just coming through the clouds and I said ‘I’ve just got this funny feeling our babies are being born’ and they were,” recalls Mrs Ashcroft.
The Wellington couple, in their mid-40s at the time in June 2012, created the babies in India using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and paid a gestational surrogate to carry the little girls. Eight months later they got a call to say the surrogate was in labour, two weeks early. Unlike most expectant parents who head to hospital, they boarded a plane bound for Mumbai.
“We didn’t find out our girls had been born until we checked into our hotel and we were in a state of shock.” The Ashcrofts were the first New Zealand couple to take advantage of commercial surrogacy laws in India, which is only one of a handful of countries that allow surrogates to be paid. As a result of the 2002 law, lower costs, increasing medical infrastructure and the availability of surrogates, the country has emerged as a hotspot for this type of fertility tourism.
International surrogacy, also legal in the United States, Thailand, the Ukraine and at least one state in Mexico, is a growing trend for couples and singles, both gay and straight, seeking ways to overcome the hurdles biological, technological, financial, and legal of having children.
The subject was the hot topic at the fifth Congress of the Asia Pacific Initiative on Reproduction (ASPIRE Conference) in Brisbane this month. Closer to home members of the Law Society heard presentations from fertility specialists on the issue last week. Fertility Associates group operations manager Dr John Peek says New Zealand had always aligned itself ethically with European standards but with the amount of reproductive technology exploding in Asia it could no longer be ignored.
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