Monday, September 16, 2013

India vs Thailand for surrogacy - More parents defy law with overseas surrogacy

I was surprised to see the figures below in the media recently. I always thought Indian clinics had the stranglehold on surrogacy treatment, maybe because there are more blogs out in surrogacy land about treatment in India than blogs written by intended parents for Thai surrogacy. Blogs, of course, never tell the true picture, just a small slice of what a few people experience. It will be interesting to see the figures for 2013 now that India has closed for singles, de facto couples and same sex couples. The figures below affirm that Thailand is potentially more as popular for surrogacy for Australians, and has at least a five year history of helping Australians with 1907 babies through Thailand and 1559 through India. Of course, these figures are based on applications for citizenship, which include non-surrogacy cases. I suspect the higher rate for Thailand is due to the proximity of Thailand to Australia, and Thailand being a more popular tourist destination for Australians than India. I think there would be a higher number of Australian men travelling to Thailand and having a bit on the side, or marrying a local Thai woman, than would be going to India for the same purely due to location.

Those who are concerned the Thai clinics are not as experienced with surrogacy for foreigners can be assured that is not correct given the number of actual babies home to Australia. I've done the homework on doctors, agencies and consultants offering surrogacy services in Thailand, including prices. If you're considering Thailand for surrogacy, you can see prices and services for pretty much everyone here:

A sharp rise in Australian children born in India shows laws criminalising commercial surrogacy are doing nothing to stop parents going overseas to find birth mothers for their children, surrogacy advocates say.

The number of citizenship requests for children born in India has risen by more than 300 per cent over the past five years, documents obtained under freedom of information show.

Surrogacy Australia founder Sam Everingham said Australians were fast becoming the highest per capita users of compensated, or commercial, surrogacy, despite laws in NSW and other states criminalising it, even if it occurs overseas.

"Australia, funnily enough, has become one of the largest surrogacy markets internationally because of the perfect storm created by the lack of access to international adoption, women leaving childbirth later on and the fact we are a wealthy country and women can afford it," he said.

Mr Everingham estimated that about 100 NSW couples each year were engaging in compensated surrogacy overseas, and about 500 nationally.

Since March 2011 NSW parents who do so have risked two years' imprisonment and fines of $275,000.

Nationally, the Family Law Council is reviewing how best to deal with the legal issues posed by increasing use of surrogacy, with a report due in December.

University of Technology, Sydney professor Jenni Millbank said figures she obtained from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship show that there were 519 applications for citizenship for children lodged in India in the 2011-12 financial year. This compared with only 126 in 2007-08.

She said it had ''never been easier'' to pay for surrogacy overseas but its legal status meant many IVF doctors were refusing to give any advice to couples considering it.

"Patients are going in blind, with no information from their doctors about how many embryos to transfer and the risks of those sorts of things," she said. "People don't want to go to a poor country and behave harmfully but they work with the information they have."

She said her discussions with Indian fertility providers indicated some had multiple pregnancy rates of between 25 and 40 per cent due to the common practice of transferring multiple embryos. Multiple transfers can put the mother and babies at risk, and in Australia IVF clinics have cracked down on the practice and have a multiple birth rate of only 8 per cent.

Professor Millbank said the steep rises in Australian children born in countries like India indicate more children are being born through compensated surrogacy, although the figures also include children who were not born through surrogacy but need to apply for citizenship overseas.

The rise is also evident in other countries commonly used for surrogacy, with Thailand increasing 54 per cent, from 297 to 459 applications, and Ukraine 122 per cent, from nine children to 20.

In a recent presentation at the Fertility Society of Australia conference, Professor Millbank argued that Australia should create an ethical framework for compensated surrogacy.

"That doesn't mean a profit-driven system, or an incentive system, but one that doesn't make it so hard to do it if people want to do it," she said. "Parents say the idea that they would ask someone to do that for free is abhorrent."

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Tigerlilycat said...

These figures would also include adoption, as there's still no way there were 100+ babies born via surrogacy in India over five years ago. Super interesting to note how steady the Thailand figures are...

Amani (Meg) said...

Lisa, through adoption would people be applying for citizenship by descent? I agree with you, there were far fewer babies born through surrogacy in India back 5 years ago. When you and I started there were a handful of Australians; and the AHC still didn't really know what to do as surrogacy was so new for them.

Tigerlilycat said...

The article states "applications for citizenship for children", hence assuming the figures are for more than just kids born via surrogacy. I'd accept the figures that keep getting quoted for surro births IF I didn't know same sex couples also doing India when we did, and none of them ever commented about the 100+ births they knew of before theirs. We were first Aussies for our clinic, and I know the first Aussie babies born at Rotunda and Become Parents too. This only leaves Dr Patel as the other big player in 2008 and 2009 and she would have had Aussie clients - just not resulting in 100+ births in this time frame. I know I'm a stickler for detail, but I'd really like to see real figures sooner or later.

Amani (Meg) said...

I don't think we'll ever get real stats and they don't separate out the surrogacy cases from non0surrogacy cases, well they didn't last time I asked AHC for this information a couple of years ago. I think the correct figure back in 08/09 would be around 10 all up.

Choco Mayan said...

there were Aussie Indians who married to local Indians, they can have babies too. In Hong Kong, this is a common thing, expat Indians have kids back home in India. Same thing for Thailand too. For sure, the growth was certainly from surrogacy.