Recent events in India surrounding its government-sponsored sterilization practices have shifted the world’s attention to the region this week. While efforts to stabilize the country’s population have been taking place for some time, in one small region in the western India the business of surrogate births has been on the rise.
In August 2014 photojournalist Serena de Sanctis traveled to the heart of India’s surrogacy boom: a small town in the western state of Gujarat called Anand. She was introduced to Nayna Patel, a fertility specialist who in 2003 performed the first surrogacy in Anand and went on to open the Akanksha Infertility and IVF Clinic, birthing a total of 818 children.
In India, surrogacy can cost on average $12,000-$25,000, all expenses included. That fee can be nearly three times as high in the United States. Foreign couples or individuals from Canada and the United States have been flocking to India because of its more affordable surrogacy options, and they often end up at Patel’s clinic.
The surrogates, many of them poor, receive payment for their services. Many of these women already have their own children and use the money to pay for their children’s educations. The clinic also provides housing for the women during their nine months of pregnancy. Surrogate mothers live together in the same house, receive medical treatment, learn handcrafts and can even receive visits from the client couples.
All photos by Serena de Sanctis