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Wombs on hire

india Updated: Mar 13, 2011 01:45 IST
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Diksha Gurung, 27
Her package: Rs 3.5 lakh for surrogacy + Rs 1.5 lakh for child care for 2 months egg donation (before surrogacy): Rs 3.15 lakh
Bonus/gift: Toshiba laptop
Genetic parents: Japanese
For Diksha Gurung, and Ganga Bhujal, a lot rests on getting pregnant. "With my first surrogacy (fee), I could get my husband's kidney operation done, admit my son in an English medium school, and buy a small flat," Diksha, the 27-year-old housewife and mother of two, who moved from Nepal to Ahmedabad with her husband about a decade ago, rattles off.

At Dr Nayana Patel's clinic in Gujarat's Anand district - this is the sisters' second surrogacy since 2008 - getting pregnant is a moment of great relief.

Diksha, who had already donated her eggs six times before she became a surrogate, was lucky to get pregnant in the first try. The "Japanese partywaale (intended parents)" chose her since she had donated eggs for them earlier, she says.

Diksha's egg donations got her about Rs 3.15 lakh. Her sister Ganga, 23, left her job in Kuwait after she was abused at her employers', but couldn't return to her family in Nepal until she had enough money. For both sisters then, a package in lakhs, obviously, meant a lot. It didn't matter that the neighbours initially gossiped that surrogacy work made them "prostitutes".

But it's hard to give away the children, they admit. Ganga hasn't seen her own child for five years now. With the surrogacy (fee), she will now be able to meet her own daughter.

Yohanna Johnson, 23
Her package: Rs 3.5 lakh for surrogacy. She will get 25% more if she delivers twins
Monthly expenses: Rs 2,000-3,000 for food, clothes, other expenses
Genetic parents: Undisclosed
When Yohanna M Johnson's sister-in-law suggested she become a surrogate, she thought that she could finally buy her own house in Gujarat's Anand district.

"Bus (Ok), this is the last time," she says, after asking to finish the interview early since the "twins inside" were making it tough for her.

Her husband, who works as a welder, and earns Rs 2,000-3,000 is supporting her through this, and even "gets her food" everyday at the surrogate house of Dr Nayana Patel.

"Everytime he comes to see me," she says wistfully, "this is all he says: 'Come home soon.'"

Nainaben Mackwan, 38
Her package: Rs 3 lakh for first surrogacy, Rs 4.5 lakh for second surrogacy, includes extra payment for the twins
Bonus/gift: Promised flight tickets
Genetic parents: American

In 2008, Nainaben, a former nurse, had read about surrogacy in a local paper, and thought it might be an answer to her financial woes. The first time it was for the children's education. After the first surrogacy, she left her job as a nurse. Her husband runs a local marriage bureau. Together, they would make around R 10,000, and with two kids it was certainly hard to pull it off.

"I was a nurse, so I knew how it worked," she says, explaining how she convinced her husband and kids. So when the same couple approached her the second time last year, Nainaben thought this time she could get some money to travel to Israel for a job. "They were happy with me last time," she says. Now, after she delivered twins through a ceasarian section two months ago, the commissioning parents have promised to help out with her flight tickets as well.

"Of course, I miss the children I have given away," she says. "But you learn to cope when you have to plan the best for your kids. See, in Israel, I will get Rs 50,000 every month there. Can I ever earn that much here? Never!"