Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Her Body, Our Babies !!!

‘Her Body, Our Babies’ , is a documentary following a couple as they travel to India (Corion Fertility Clinic) to meet the surrogate mother who will enable them to start their own family. Filmed over the course of a year, the programme captures an emotional process fraught with legal complications and ethical dilemmas as it charts the couple’s experiences from conception to birth. 

Fiona Whyte and Sean Malone 
An Irish couple have told how they travelled across the world to find a surrogate who would help them have a baby.
Fiona White and her partner Sean Malone now have twins Ruby and Donal after spending eight long years and thousands of euro trying to have a child of their own.
The pair, who are in their 50s, explored every possible avenue to get pregnant but each one failed for them.
After a series of doomed IVF treatements, the Co Clare pair took their battle abroad and hired a surrogate in India and their story is the subject of a new documentary Her Body, Our Babies which will be shown on RTE One tonight at 9.30pm.
Fiona, who has two sons from a previous marriage, and her partner, who also has a son, were desperate to start a family of their own.
She said: “For me, when you love someone you move on to having a child with them.
“I have two wonderful sons but I would love to have a child with Sean.
“People don’t know what hoops we have gone through, they have no idea what we have gone through and I would suspect people will not even consider surrogacy and genuinely think we have adopted.”

Sean added: “It is the light at the end of the tunnel for us... I always wanted more children, it just didn’t happen.
“I have one son Tomas and I wouldn’t swap him for the world and we would just love to bring another human being into that situation.
“I think we would have a lot to offer.”
Surrogacy in India is becoming a booming business with women from poor backgrounds signing up to carry kids for couples who can’t conceive.
There are no regulations on this industry meaning anybody in the world can go to India and pay for a woman to get pregnant for them.
For those Indian women, it is an opportunity to make money in a country that pays as little as €2 a day for work.
In the programme Sean and Fiona explain how the situation will benefit everyone involved.
Sean said: “We are doing some good for the surrogate and her family, pulling them up from quagmire of poverty they are in.
“It is not a completley selfish situation. As long as we can complete this journey and everyone comes out safe and secure and happy that is enough for me.”
This isn’t an easy operation for the families - in fact it is legally complex and financially draining.
Fiona and Sean shelled out e25,000, of which the surrogate gets just 20%, for the process and the bill doesn’t stop there.
It was their last chance at creating their own family because of the cost of the situation.
Fiona said: “This is our last shot, we don’t have the finances to go out again and again and we have to consider what we are going through and say stop.
“This is the last opportunity, we wanted to give best shot we could.”
The couple chose a mother called Shobha to carry their child for them and using donor eggs and Sean’s sperm, she fell pregnant with triplets.
But the Corion Fertility Clinic would not allow the woman to carry three children because it is too risky.
This means during Shobha’s pregnancy, doctors carried out a “foetal reduction” and just twins remain.
Sean said: “You will always think of the third one.
“It is a feeling of disappointment tinged with happiness. We have lost one but we have two kids on the way now and that is a great feeling, we are over the moon.”
Fiona will have no genetic link to her children - something she has tried to get her head around.
She said: “I did struggle to come to terms in my mind that I will have no genetic connection with our child.
“Sean will, we have talked about this a lot and in that respect, I have accepted that but I am also very clear that I am going to be the child’s mother.”In September last year, Shobha gave birth to twins Donal and Ruby and Fiona and Sean finally have the family they always dreamt of.

Sean said this really upset himself and Fiona who felt she was “disgarded with”. They wanted to be able to tell the surrogate how grateful they are for her help.
Fiona described the moment they met their two little gems for the first time.
She said: “It is hard to explain. I have been there with two of my own. The bonding is immediate.
“With Ruby and Donal, the bonding starts once they are here with us.
“I feel a huge sense of protectiveness and these are our little offspring, you just want to be with them, hold them and keep them safe.”
But their battle is far from over. It took six weeks before they could take the twins home to Ireland and there is a possibility that they will never become Irish citizens.
Children born through surrogacy in India are stateless and have no rights.
The couple now have to apply to the Circuit Court to become citizens of this country, which the government may decline.
This legal row will cost them at least another €10,000.
The law here will always register Shobha as Donal and Ruby’s mother meaning Fiona has no legal right to her children.
She said: “I won’t be their legal mother but I will be their mother. I suppose that is what matters. That will remain situation unless legislation changes.”
This means that if Sean passes away or their relationship fails, she will have no right to apply for custody of her children.
Solicitor Marion Campbell said this is a situation that is happening all across the country but the Government are turning a blind eye to it.
She said: “The Irish Government needs to wake up and do something about this.
“It is happening, it is happening here. Everyone is turning back on it and pretending it is not happening.
“It is probably peculiar to Ireland, we export our problem abroad and then we are on back foot trying to sort it out.”
Fiona and Sean know this isn’t going to be easy for them but as long as they have the kids, they are content.
She said: “We fought very hard for them to be back here. We have a long protracted legal route ahead of us but we will get there.”