A Japanese baby born to a surrogate Indian mother faces an uncertain future after her parents divorced. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi on the legal
hassles that confront the 12-day-old girl and her father.
The Japanese baby was born in Western Gujarat state on July 25 to a surrogate Indian mother. Under normal circumstances she would have been adopted by her biological parents as required under Indian law, and taken away by them.
But the little girl, named Manji, has not been able to make the journey home with her parents. Instead she has landed in a hospital in another Indian city, Jaipur, where her paternal grandmother is helping doctors look after her.
The reason: Her biological parents divorced in the months after signing a surrogacy agreement. The mother, according to reports, does not want the baby.
Manji's father, Ikufumi Yamada, say he wanted to take custody of the child after she was born, but was unable to do so.
Sadhna Arya, a gynecologist at the Arya hospital in Jaipur where the baby is kept, explains why.
"When he came here, single parent, to claim the child, they did not give the child to the father. The father could not get the passport, because the passport of a neonate, that is a new born child is made on the mother's passport. Since there was no mother, they could not give her a passport," said Arya.
An Indian friend of the baby's father helped bring her to Jaipur, where she was admitted to the Arya hospital after developing an infection.
But doctors at the hospital say they don't know where she will go next, or how she will leave India. Lawyers say a major legal complication confronting the father is an Indian
law that prohibits single men from adopting children.
Sadhana Arya says the grandmother, who speaks neither English nor Hindi, is very concerned about the situation.
"She is very distressed, she is very worried that her visa would expire in a short time because she is here on a tourist visa, and she wants someone to help her to take the baby out of the country back to Japan to her father," added Arya.
After the little girl's story received attention, several lawyers and social welfare groups have offered to help.
In recent years, India has emerged as a major center for surrogate pregnancies. Customers from Western and other countries pay poor women about $5,000 for what is called the "rent a womb" business.