A surrogate mother has complained to the Telangana health authorities that the biological parents of the baby disappeared midway through the pregnancy without paying her the promised money, The Hindustan Times reports.
The couple from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh apparently came to know from doctors that the baby growing in the rented womb is a girl.
Lakshman, a construction worker of Kuntlur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad, said on Tuesday a woman approached his wife, 20-year-old Venkatamma, in November last year and convinced her to rent her womb for a childless couple.
Venkatamma was promised Rs 3 lakh, to be paid after delivery. “I was not aware of the deal as I was out of station for a few months. The couple took her to a private hospital at SR Nagar in Hyderabad and got her pregnant through in vitro fertilization,” Lakshman said.
For the next three months, the surrogate was allegedly taken to different hospitals for check-up. “But suddenly, the woman and the couple disappeared from the city without informing my wife and paying her a single penny,” the husband said.
Venkatamma, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, disclosed everything to her husband when he returned.
The poor couple decided against an abortion and on July 20, a girl was born at Victoria memorial government maternity hospital in Hyderabad. The baby was shifted to Niloufer children’s hospital because of complications, where she is said to be responding to medication and recovering.
“We wanted the baby to be given to her biological parents. But we could not trace them. So we approached the medical and health department authorities on Saturday to find the parents and do justice to us,” Lakshman said.
Authorities had sent a team to the hospitals mentioned by Venkatamma, but the address or contact details of the biological parents couldn’t be found. “The hospital records show the name of the mother who underwent the check-up as K Sudha Rani, wife of Shailesh. There were no other details,” said Hyderabad district medical and health officer K Padmaja.
Venkatamma’s name was entered in the records as Sudha Rani. “Surrogacy norms say there should be a memorandum of agreement between the surrogate mother and biological parents. But in this case, there are no such agreements,” the health officer said.
“Either the couple cheated the woman taking advantage of her poverty or Venkatamma is lying. We will conduct a DNA test of the baby to ascertain the facts.” Padmaja promised strict action against the private hospital if it has conducted surrogacy without following rules and also for disclosing the sex of the baby before birth.
India has banned doctors, hospitals and their staff from revealing a child’s gender during prenatal examinations. It is aimed at preventing the practice of female foeticide, rampant in a patriarchal society obsessed with a male heir.
Though killing and abandoning baby girls are common practices in large parts of India, where a preference for sons runs deep, Lakshman said he will raise the baby as his own if her natural parents don’t claim her.
“We have a son. And this baby will be our daughter. Officials told me that there is no point in filing a police complaint since there are no details of the parents,” he said.