UK Couple’s Surrogate Kid to Stay in India? Swaraj Talks ‘Destiny’

Last month, Sushma Swaraj had condemned ‘misuse’ of altruistic surrogacy.

2 min read
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the couple might have to leave their baby in Delhi. (Photo: Reuters)

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted about a British couple who might have to leave their baby, which they had through surrogacy, in an orphanage in India as they didn’t manage to get a British passport for her.

Swaraj last month had condemned ‘misuse’ of altruistic surrogacy after the Union Cabinet gave its approval for introduction of Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, which aims at regulating commissioning of surrogacy in the country. She had received great criticism for it.

At the time, she had time raised the issue of surrogate babies often being abandoned and ill-fated, an issue she again brought up on Wednesday.

Chris and Michele Newman from Surrey spent the last four months in Mumbai to see the birth of their daughter, Lily. The couple claim to have applied for their newborn daughter’s passport on 3 June. However British consulate in Mumbai told them the application will not be processed until after their special Indian medical visas expire on 7 October and that they should be prepared to leave their baby behind.

Swaraj questioned if the British government were going to come to the couples rescue. The couple who had been trying to have a baby for years chose to come to India when commercial surrogacy was banned. But since the mother was already pregnant, the Newmans were allowed to have their baby.

Mr Newman told BBC Radio 5:

We have no family out here. We have no friends – we don’t know anyone. We either leave her in an orphanage or with a complete and utter stranger. No parents should have to think about that. Twice we’ve been told that we need to prepare, if the visa expires, you will have to leave Lily here.

The Newmans reported that while the British authorities in India have been helpful, they have been finding it difficult to deal with the passport office in Liverpool.

UK Home Office has reportedly said that the baby’s passport will be issued after checks to ensure that her “interests are protected” and claim to British nationality verified.

I was up until the best part of 4 am pacing around in my hotel room. I’m wracking my brains as to how we can resolve this issue. At this stage we just can’t believe that our hand is being forced to leave our baby.
Mr Newman

The couple were told it could take around 12-16 weeks for Lily’s passport to be issued, but special conditions are in place for surrogacy babies which could see it taking months.

Newman filed a complaint that said:

It is madness that UK Government and HMPO is so willing to safeguard the well-being of a baby applicant to ensure that it hasn’t been trafficked, that it is happy for that child to be left without its parents in a foreign country with a complete stranger. Raising and questioning the current situation is great, but we do hope that from her end, Ms Swaraj helps the couple extend their visas and take their baby with them.

(With inputs from Daily Mail, NDTV.)

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