Surrogate baby stranded in legal limbo

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The Independent Online

A surrogate baby born to an Indian mother could end up with no parents after the Japanese couple who paid for her split up.

Her natural and adoptive mothers have said they do not want the 11-day-old baby and her father is barred as a single man by Indian law from adopting her.

Ikufumi Yamada, 45, and his then-wife Yuki Yamada, 41, signed a surrogacy agreement with Priti Patel last November. Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002 and the child born of such an agreement is then legally adopted by its biological parents.

But because he divorced shortly before the baby was born, Yamada cannot adopt the girl currently in a hospital in Jaipur city in western Rajasthan state, said Dr Sanjay Arya, the doctor looking after the child.

The surrogate mother has also left the child, who is now being looked after by Yamada's mother.

"The grandmother becomes very emotional when she is told that the child cannot be taken out of India. The lawmakers will have to find some solution for this," Dr Arya said.

Without adoption papers the baby girl cannot be issued a passport or leave the country, he said.

Experts say commercial surrogacy is growing in India.

Although no reliable numbers track such pregnancies nationwide, doctors work with surrogates in virtually every major city. The women are impregnated in-vitro with the egg and sperm of couples from all over the world who are unable to conceive on their own.

Surrogate mothers, often poor women with little education, earn up to £2,500 plus all medical costs, for the service.