A white woman bearing brown children? Excusez moi?
The recent decision of a white woman, Karen, to reveal how she has been a surrogate mother for an Asian baby — and has another one lined up — is seen as a pointer to a new trend.
Traditionally, India and other Asian countries are seen as ideal ‘markets’ for couples seeking surrogate mothers to bear their children. However, the reverse is equally true.
Doctors say the arrangement may be to the advantage of the "commissioning" (read Asian) couple because the surrogate mother may be less likely to become attached to the baby if it belongs to a different race.
Dr Sisir Ray, a Harley Street consultant, told HT that the trend could catch up fast because many white women here have lineages tracing back to India.
So far over 600 children have been born here since 1989 to surrogate mothers although the issue remains controversial here.
On an average the mother charges £10,000 to deliver a child, apart from expenses for looking after the newborn. One Carole Horlock has been the most prolific on record here, having borne eight children in a decade. She is supposed to have made £50,000 although she says hardly anything is left after the expenses of bringing up the children.
In the present case, the baby boy born to Karen (surname not evealed) is now three months old. "Colour wasn’t an issue for me. It didn’t make any difference,” she was quoted as saying in the Sunday Times.
Karen is a healthcare assistant in southeast England. If she bears a second child for the Asian couple, it would be her fourth surrogate baby. She has previously given birth to two girls for a white couple.
Professor Ian Craft, director of the London Fertility Centre, where the Asian couple were treated, said: "The major risk in surrogacy is that the surrogate mother may not want to yield the child. The surrogate is unlikely to want to keep a child of a different race. That is just human nature."
As Karen put it, "All the way through the pregnancies I felt like a surrogate mum," she said. "I never referred to any of the babies as ‘my baby’. If I felt the baby kick or move, I would always remind myself that it was someone else’s baby moving."
Other known cases in which a white woman intended to carry an Asian child have ended in controversy. In 1991 an Asian couple ended their contract with a British woman to carry their baby after she disclosed the plan to the media.
Last year an Asian couple had to go to the court to gain custody of their twins after a white surrogate mother decided to keep the babies. The twins were later given to the couple in an out-of-court settlement.