Friday, May 28, 2010

Surrogacy: Mitzvah or Money Maker?

Surrogacy: Mitzvah or Money Maker?

Israeli anthropologist studies the issue and controversies surrounding it
May 27, 2010 - Daphna Berman, Jewish Exponent Feature

What motivates a surrogate mother to carry a baby that is not genetically related to her through nine months of pregnancy, only to give the child up just moments after it's born?

Elly Teman, an Israeli anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has been researching this question -- and other issues relating to surrogacy -- for the past decade. In her recently published Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self, Teman explores the cultural assumptions about surrogacy, debunking some along the way, as well as misunderstandings that surround the controversial process.

"There is a common belief that surrogate mothers bond with the baby they carry, and later decide to keep it," she said in a recent interview. "The truth is that less than one-tenth of 1 percent of cases end up in court. Surrogates don't bond with the babies. They bond with the women -- the women they are making into mothers."

Teman's research focused on Israel, one of the few countries where surrogacy is legal and also tightly regulated. Unlike in the United States, where surrogacy is legal only in select states, close distances between the surrogate and the intended mother in Israel meant that the women were constantly interacting.

Teman followed these women as they embarked on an exciting and emotionally charged journey that transformed them from strangers to something much more complicated.

"In the U.S., the surrogate could be in Oregon and the intended parents could be in New York, so most of the communication is done through e-mail and the phone," she said. "But in Israel, the intended mother sees the surrogate's belly growing, and she goes with her to ultrasound appointments. The Israeli version is intensified because they see each other so often."
Elly Teman

In Israel, some of the intended mothers even started to develop symptoms of pregnancy -- rashes, bloating, weight gain -- because they were so close to the women who were carrying their genetic child.

"People would say that the intended mothers were glowing," Teman said, "and for them, feeling 'a little pregnant' meant a lot."

The costs of surrogacy are prohibitive for many couples in the United States, often running upwards of $100,000, which includes the cost of in-vitro fertilization. In Israel, where IVF is covered by the state, the cost is about half.

Surrogacy has been legal in Israel since 1996; the first baby born to a surrogate mother came two years later. The bill to legalize it passed through the Knesset in record time, and as a result, Israeli law is very strict in regulating the process.

Criteria for the surrogate, as well as the intended couple, are determined by a state committee.

And the committee is strict: a woman must be married to be eligible, and she needs to have gone though at least seven failed IVF attempts or have other medical problems to prove her infertility.

The United States, however, has no such legal safety net. Surrogacy in New York is illegal, but in Pennsylvania, for example, it is not expressly prohibited, which means that women often cross state boundaries to contract surrogates.

California, meanwhile, is a "mecca" for surrogacy, Teman said, though it isn't regulated at all. The result is that couples from around the United States, as well as countries throughout Europe and Japan, often travel there to contract a surrogate mother, but individual agencies -- rather than the states themselves -- are then responsible for screening.

Also, "there is no back up in court. No one knows what will happen in a court of law if the surrogate wants to keep the baby," she said.

Money and the Mitzvah

Teman, who was born in New York and raised in Portland, Ore., immigrated to Israel with her family at age 12. She studied at the Hebrew University and became interested in the issue of surrogacy after meeting a woman who was born with ovaries, but no uterus, and was looking into options.

Teman also said that her research -- which was conducted between the years 1998 and 2006 -- was made possible because of Israel's liberal approach to the issue. The state's Jewish character, she noted, caused it to go "very far" in legislating surrogacy.

"Surrogates are doing it for the money and for the mitzvah," she said. "These two don't contradict each other, and they don't take away from each other. That's sometimes hard for people to digest.

"People think that if there's money involved, then it's a business transaction, and if there is no money, then it's a mitzvah. But the surrogate gives more than money can buy

Surrogacy in India: not an option for gay and lesbian couples

NEW DELHI: Gay and lesbian couples, Indian or foreign, can't have children born with the help of an Indian surrogate mother.

According to the draft `Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2010' prepared by a 12-member committee headed by Dr P M Bhargava under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which was submitted to the health ministry recently, till gay and lesbian relationships are legalised in India, gay couples would not be allowed to have children through a surrogate.

Ministry officials told TOI that India was seeing a growing number of male couples from foreign countries hiring surrogates to bear children. This is mainly because assisted reproductive technology (ART) is not regulated here at present.

"However, once this bill is endorsed by the law ministry and becomes an Act, such couples will not be allowed to have surrogate children in India," said member secretary of the committee Dr R S Sharma.

According to Dr Sharma, under present laws, the definition of a couple is "persons living together and having a sexual relation that is legal in India".

"But though homosexuality has been decriminalised in India, it has not been made legal. Till gay and lesbian couples get legal status in India, they can't avail surrogacy," Dr Sharma said.

Some time back, a gay Israeli was prevented by a Jerusalem judge from taking his twins, born with the help of a surrogate mother in Mumbai, back to his home town.

The draft bill also says that foreigners or NRIs coming to India to rent a womb will have to submit two documents -- one confirming that their country of residence recognises surrogacy as legal and second that it will give citizenship to the child born through the agreement from an Indian mother.

As reported by TOI earlier, the draft bill also includes a provision which says that foreign couple will have to identify a local guardian in India to take care of the surrogate mother during her gestation period as well as after the delivery, till the child is handed over to the commissioning parents. However, if the foreign parents fail to take delivery of the child born to the surrogate mother within one month of the child's birth, the surrogate mother and the local guardian will be legally obliged to hand over the child to an adoption agency.

Only in such a case will the baby get an Indian citizenship, says the bill.

So what makes India an attractive destination for surrogacy? Experts cite two reasons. In the US, surrogacy costs up to $120,000 while in India, couples pay only a fourth or so of that amount. Having a child could cost anything between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 25 lakh here. The second reason is lack of regulation of the ART sector making India an easy place to have a surrogate baby.

The Law Commission, however, strongly pitched for legalising surrogacy in India last year and recommended several steps to protect the interests of the surrogate mother and also the baby.

In its 228th report submitted to law minister Veerappa Moily, the commission recommended banning of sex-selective surrogacy, financial support for surrogate child in the event of death of commissioning parents or unwillingness to take the child later and providing life insurance cover for surrogate mother.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Surrogate Twins in India finally get to head home to Germany!

Twins head for Germany, apex court seeks law on surrogacy

New Delhi: As the last hurdle was cleared Wednesday in the travel of surrogate twins to Germany with their natural father Jan Balaz, the Supreme Court said the central government should enact a legislation to take care of surrogacy and related issues.

A vacation bench headed by Justices G.S. Singhvi and C.K. Prasad said that no surrogate child should undergo the difficulties faced by Nicolas and Leonard.

Justice Singhvi said: 'We can only wish good luck to them.'

The travel was cleared after Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam informed the court that the ministry of external affairs had already issued the 'exit permit' for the twins, born in 2008 to a Gujarati surrogate mother from Anand.

The twins have been in India since their birth due to immigration problems.

Solicitor General Subramaniam told the Court that even before it (the court) expressed its concern over the absence of statutory backing to surrogacy, he had impressed upon the government to enact such a law. The court which would go into the legal dimensions of the case then adjourned it till October 2010.

However, the surrogate twins have to cross yet another obstacle of acquiring German citizenship. Jan Balaz would move the German Court for acquiring German citizenship for his children. The big hiccup in the final lap is that the German government does not recognize surrogacy as a means of parenthood. Surrogacy is illegal in Germany.

It was on this count alone that the hearing into the matter was prolonged in the apex court because of the apprehension that after leaving India the twins may become stateless.

The case, which took many twists and turns, eventually saw the central government issuing identification papers to the twins and the German government issuing visa.

Surrogate mother abandons child in hospital

However, before boarding the plane to Germany which they, according to Jan Balaz, might take tonight itself, the twins needed 'exit permit' from the ministry of external affairs.

On this score, the hearing into the matter in the morning was adjourned till 2 p.m. and the solicitor general was asked to state the position of the centre government on the 'exit permit'. Soon after the court assembled after lunch break, Subramaniam informed the court that the 'exit permit' had already been issued and was with the court registry.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vietnam Lacks Sperm Donors

Vietnam’s sperm banks lack “capital”

VietNamNet Bridge – In Vietnam, around 5-10 percent of infertility cases are caused by problems with men’s sperm count. The need for donors at sperm banks is high, but men are not eager to donate their semen.

A couple in Hanoi’s Gia Lam district has been married for six years, but they have no children yet. Doctors report that the husband is unable to produce sperm, so the couple has turned to in-vitro fertilization. Since the hospital has limited sperm donations, they asked the couple to find a sperm donor in exchange for the service.

Doctor Vu Minh Ngoc from the Hanoi Obstetrics Hospital explained that many couples are unable to find sperm donors and that hospitals face the same trouble. The hospital’s sperm bank is almost empty.

Physicians note that men don’t want to donate sperm because the collecting process and regulations are complicated. Sperm donors in Vietnam must be less than 40 years old and healthy, so physicians must perform many tests to determine that the donors don’t have sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B, HIV, etc. The donors also have to return to the hospital three months later to complete a second round of tests. After that, if the results are all fine, the hospitals can then collect their semen.

Dr. Ngoc still remembers one man who went to the Hanoi Obstetrics Hospital to donate sperm several years ago. “The first tests were okay. We collected three samples of sperm and made a second appointment for three months later. If the second tests were all good, then the sperm samples could be used. The man never came back,” Ngoc recalled.

People also worry that if they donate, terrible mix-ups may happen, such as their children may get married by coincidence.

Dr. Ngoc observed that sperm donation and use of donations is based on a privacy rule that the donors and the recipients don’t know each other. The donors also give up the right to find out any information about recipients.

Patients who wish to receive donations from sperm banks must seek donors for the hospitals so that the supply remains steady. In return, they can receive sperm from a previous donor.

Hospitals collect three samples of sperm from each donor. If one sample is used and a recipient becomes pregnant, the two other samples will be destroyed.

Surrogacy Bill in India looks to protect children

Surrogacy bill looks to protect child's interest
Manoj Mitta, TNN, May 23, 2010, 05.22am IST

NEW DELHI: Having emerged as the hottest destination for surrogacy, it is but natural for India to take the lead in evolving a law that safeguards the interests of all the parties concerned, including the child born through assisted reproductive technology (ART).

There is no precedent to the proposal under consideration that foreigners or NRIs seeking to rent a womb in India be made to give evidence that their country of residence recognized surrogacy and would give citizenship to a child born through agreement.

Both conditions are reasonable as they are designed to deal with the legal uncertainties thrown up by a couple of surrogacy cases that did not pan out in the agreed manner. In the Manji Yamada case, the baby was embroiled in litigation as the commissioning Japanese parents had divorced by the time it was born in India.

And in the subsequent case involving German parents, the twins found themselves in a no-man's-land as their country did not recognize surrogacy as a means of parenthood.

The bill drafted by an ICMR expert committee is in keeping with the recommendations made by the Law Commission in August 2009.

There is no way the surrogacy agreements will be enforceable unless the commissioning parents are in a position to take the child back to their country and it is accorded citizenship, which it would have automatically received had it been born to them in the natural course.

Correspondingly, the proposed law will recognise the surrogate child as the legitimate child of the commissioning parents, without there being any need for adoption or even declaration of guardianship. Such an enabling provision cannot however be enforced unilaterally. So, the government cannot just go by the word of the commissioning parents. The safeguards of the child's interests need to have official imprimatur in the form of certificates from the foreign government concerned.

As a corollary, the legislation also provides that the birth certificate of the surrogate child given by the Indian government will have names of only the commissioning parents. In a bid to prevent abuse of the child, the government is also considering provisions stipulating that at least one of the commissioning parents needs to be a donor of the sperm or the egg. This is based on the assumption that a biological link between the commissioning parents and the surrogate child would reduce chances of abuse.
Under the scheme of the proposed law, surrogacy cannot be misused for sex selection and it will be governed by the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act to prevent unauthorized abortions.

It also seeks to provide a measure of privacy to the commissioning and surrogate parents.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three Taiwanese Men under Investigation of Importing Surrogates from Uzbekistan

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) Three Taiwanese men are under investigation by police on suspicion of importing women from Uzbekistan specifically for childbearing purposes.

The three men -- a doctor, a businessman and a pharmacist identified only by their last names Kuo, Shao and Lien, respectively -- are believed to have brought four Uzbek women to Taiwan since 2007 to serve as surrogate mothers.

According to the police, two of the women had three children with Kuo, one woman had one child fathered by Shao, and the other woman left Taiwan without having any children. Three of women have already left the country, the police said.

Shao, who operates a factory in Uzbekistan, is married to a Uzbek woman and they have one child, the police said.

Shao claimed that his wife was unable to have any more children and admitted to bringing a Uzbek woman to Taiwan in 2007 at cost of US$30,000 to serve as a surrogate mother, according to the police.

The woman came to Taiwan under the pretext of studying Chinese and was impregnated with Shao's sperm through artificial insemination, the police said. She was paid US$1,000 for each month of her stay in Taiwan and she left in August 2008 after giving birth to a baby boy who was later adopted by Shao, the police said.

According to the police, Shao's wife was kept in dark about the whole process.

Surrogate parenting is not allowed in Taiwan and doctors who knowingly perform artificial insemination prodecures for such a purpose could have their licenses suspended.

Kuo, a doctor who worked at a clinic owned by Shao and located in Cidu, Keelung City, was quite taken with Shao's two blonde children was eager to have one of his own, the police said.

However, since Kuo was in the process of divorcing his wife at the time, he hatched a plan for Lien -- a friend and colleagues of his and Shao's -- to engage in a fake marriage with a Uzbek woman and bring her to Taiwan, the police said.

According to the police, the woman bore Kuo a baby girl in February 2008 through artificial insemination and has since remained in Taiwan and assumed the family name of Kuo.

Using a similar ploy, the doctor impregnated another foreign woman and brought her to Taiwan, supposedly to study Chinese, the police said, adding that in March 2010 she gave birth to twin boys.

Before that, in March 2009 Shao had brought in another Uzbek woman to have a child for him but during a routine check at the artificial insemination clinic the woman was found be HIV positive and the clinic alerted the Keelung City Health Office, the police said.

In a bid to foil the system, Shao asked the Uzbek woman surnamed Kuo to pose as the other woman and to request another HIV test, this time at a Taipei City clinic, the police said.

When the test came up negative, the police said, the discrepancy in the two results was brought to the attention of the health authorities who began to look into the case and found that the blood samples had come from two different persons.

The woman who was found to be HIV positive left the country before health officials could track down her and the whole scheme was exposed, according to the police.

All the other people believed to be involved in the case were taken by police to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office Wednesday for questioning.

Kuo, Shao and Lien were released on bail, while the Uzbek woman surnamed Kuo was taken to an immigrant shelter as Lien had thrown her out after the scheme was exposed, the police said.

The Catholic Church's view on IVF, Donor Egg, and Surrogacy

Questionable Practices

By Father John Flynn, L.C. ROME, MAY 16, 2010 ( The Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilization (IVF) is well-known, but recently some of these practices are being questioned even by secular observers.

A May 10 article published by the New York Times looked at the topic of paying women to produce eggs for other couples. It cited a recent issue of a bioethics journal, The Hastings Center Report, which found that payment to young women is often above industry guidelines.

The study, by Aaron Levine, an assistant professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that a quarter of 100 egg ads in college newspapers offered more than the $10,000 limit of the voluntary ceiling established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Higher payments were offered for women at prestigious colleges and for those who had above average academic results.

According to the New York Times almost 10,000 children were born through donor eggs in 2006, around double the number in 2000.

The article also referred to concerns over the health risks for donors, particularly as young women may not be aware of the serious nature of some of these side effects.

The health risks were explained in an article published March 3 by In the piece Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, urged women to rethink any plans they have to donate their eggs.


Possible risks include stroke, organ failure, infection, cancer, and loss of future fertility, Lahl warned.

She also argued that egg donation is not similar to organ donation. In the latter a donor takes risks in order to save a sick or dying person. By contrast the recipient of an egg donation is not sick, but a consumer purchasing a product.

"Society rightfully condemns the selling or payment for organs in order to prevent abuses and save lives, whereas the large sums of monetary compensation to women egg donors causes them to be exploited by their need for money," said Lahl.

It's not just college women who are being urged to sell their eggs.

Last year at a fertility conference Professor Naomi Pfeffer warned that women in poor countries are being exploited in a sort of prostitution by Westerners who are desperate for children, reported the Times newspaper, Sept 19.

"The exchange relationship is analogous to that of a client and a prostitute," she said. "It's a unique situation because it's the only instance in which a woman exploits another woman's body," Pfeffer commented.


Another practice that is being criticized is that of surrogate mothers. India is a popular destination for Western couples looking for women to bear their children. One reason it is favored is the lack of laws governing the procedure, something highlighted in an article the Times of India newspaper published May 11.

The article recounted how for the third time in the last year-and-a-half children born to Indian surrogate mothers faced obstacles in being legally recognized by countries of their genetic parents.

Previous cases involved a baby for a Japanese couple, which took six months to resolve, and then a German couple that had to wait months for citizenship of their baby born to an Indian woman. The latest case is that of an Israeli homosexual couple that is seeking citizenship for their two-month-old child.

The article cited experts who said that such problems would not occur if a draft law that has been debated during the last five years were made law.

The situation of Indian surrogate mothers was examined at length in a Sunday Times article published May 9. It looked at the Akanksha Infertility Clinic in the town of Anand, run by Doctor Navana Patel and her husband, Hitesh. Since 2003, 167 women have given birth to 216 babies at this clinic, with another 50 surrogate women currently pregnant.

Couples pay over 14,000 pounds ($20,682), of which about a third goes to the surrogate. The women are generally of lower caste and come from poor villages. The amount they receive is equivalent to about ten years' salary, according to the Sunday Times.

The article also explained that at the clinic in Anand once the surrogates are pregnant they must live in "confinement homes" and can only leave for medical check-ups. Their husbands and children are allowed to visit them on Sundays. The Sunday Times chronicled the anguish the women feel at being separated from their own children and the emotional wrench they face when they have to hand over their surrogate child.

An April 26 article published by the Toronto Star newspaper raised questions about the situation in India. In one case a Canadian couple paid a woman in India to be a surrogate, but when Canadian officials ordered DNA tests on the resulting twins it turned out that instead of the fertilized eggs of the couple the children born were from another unknown couple. The twins will now probably be sent to an orphanage.

Legal problems

Apart from concerns about the exploitation of women the spread of surrogacy is causing complicated legal problems. The Wall Street Journal had a look at some of the issues involved in a Jan. 15 report.

In America eight states have passed laws prohibiting some or all surrogacy arrangements. Courts in some states have refused to enforce such contracts, while ten states have passed laws authorizing surrogacy.

Some of the disputes involve disagreements over the rights of the surrogate mother, the Wall Street Journal explained. In a decision last December New Jersey state judge Francis Schultz ruled that, in spite of a signed agreement relinquishing her parental rights, Angelia Robinson has parental rights for a baby she bore for a homosexual couple, Donald Robinson Hollingsworth and Sean Hollingsworth. Robinson is Donald Hollingsworth's sister.

Another twist to complicate matters came shortly after, in a Jan. 26 article by the New York Times that posed the question as to whether a baby can have three biological parents.

Recent experiments by scientists have led to baby monkeys with a father and two mothers, by combining genetic material from the eggs of two females. If this were done for humans it would further complicate surrogacy disputes, the article affirmed.

Life and love

The use of surrogate mothers and third parties in IVF was one of the issues dealt with in a document published last November by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology," the bishops sympathized with couples who suffer due to fertility problems, but they stated that not all solutions respect the dignity of the couple's marital relationship. The end does not justify the means, and some reproductive technologies are not morally legitimate, they affirmed.

The temptation to have a child produced or made, as products of technology, should be resisted, the document urged. "Then children themselves may come to be seen as products of our technology, even as consumer goods that parents have paid for and have a "right" to expect -- and not as fellow persons, equal in dignity to their parents and destined to eternal happiness with God," it pointed out.

Moreover, introducing third parties, by using eggs or sperm from donors, or through surrogacy, violates the integrity of the marital relationship, just as it would be violated by sexual relations with a person outside the marriage.

"Fertility clinics show disrespect for young men and women when they treat them as commodities, by offering large sums of money for sperm or egg donors with specific intellectual, physical, or personality traits," the document added.

The bishops also noted that these cash incentives can lead women to put in jeopardy their health in the egg extraction process. There are, indeed, many good reasons to have serious objections to IVF.

Former American Idol Finalist expanding family through Surrogacy

Former 'American Idol' finalist Chris Daughtry and wife expecting twins

Chris Daughtry is doubling his number of children.

The former American Idol fifth-season finalist announced Monday on his band's website that his wife Deanna is pregnant with twins, who are due in November.

"Deanna and I are overjoyed about this double blessing," said Daughtry in a statement.

"Thank you for your expressions of love and support and for respecting for our privacy during this special time."

Since Deanna underwent a partial hysterectomy in 2006, the couple used intravenous fertilization and had their embryos transferred to a gestational surrogate for the pregnancy, according to the statement.

The couple, who wed in November 2000, are already the parents of 13-year-old daughter Hannah, from Deanna's previous marriage, and 11-year-old son Griffin.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tough Rules for Overseas Surrogacy for Australians going to India

Rules get tough for overseas surrogacy STEPHANIE PEATLING NATIONAL
May 9, 2010

PEOPLE using surrogate mothers in India may no longer be able to do so after the Immigration Department said it would not guarantee citizenship to babies.

India - one of the most popular destinations for couples seeking surrogacy arrangements - is changing its laws to require prospective parents to obtain a guarantee of citizenship for their child before starting the surrogacy process.

But the Immigration Department has confirmed to The Sun-Herald that it will not change its requirements for parents wanting to bring babies born through foreign surrogacy arrangements to Australia.

A spokesman said a child born overseas as a result of surrogacy would only be ''eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of the biological parents is an Australian citizen who has been legally recognised as the parent of the child''.

To obtain citizenship for babies the Department of Immigration requires DNA proof of parenthood. This cannot be given in advance of any arrangements being made.

Australia Surrogacy, a private organisation that helps people make international surrogacy arrangements, said it had recently stopped working in India, in part because citizenship requirements were too onerous.

''Some parents were able to exit the country without any trouble but other parents were stuck in India for over eight to 10 weeks,'' a spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said people often chose India because its surrogacy clinics were less expensive but found themselves caught up in an industry that was only starting to be regulated.

The state and federal governments have recognised the growing popularity of domestic surrogacy, with attorneys-general deciding late last week to pursue nationally consistent laws.

Law Society of NSW president Mary Macken said a uniform approach would make it easier for people to enter into domestic agreements and not be forced overseas.

''There is currently much confusion within Australia as each state and territory mostly has different surrogacy laws,'' Ms Macken said.

''More importantly, it is preferable to have uniform surrogacy laws in Australia in order to provide for a safe clinical environment so commissioning parents who may become frustrated with the inadequate Australia state laws are not tempted to travel overseas and enter into a commercial surrogacy.''

Commercial surrogacy remains illegal but people are able to make ''reasonable payments'' to a surrogate mother who volunteers to carry a baby.

NSW will proceed with laws that would allow the courts to recognise couples as the parents of surrogate babies if the court believes the arrangement is in the child's best interest.

Everyone involved in the arrangement would have to undergo counselling and prove the arrangement was in place before the baby was conceived.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Israeli Man stuck in India with babies

Gay father of twins born to Indian surrogate denied permission to bring his sons home

Family court has refused to issue a standard legal order that would pave the way for the children to obtain Israeli citizenship.
By Tomer Zarchin

A homosexual father of twins who were born to a surrogate mother in India is being denied permission to enter the country with his infant sons. The move stems from a family court's refusal to issue a standard legal order that would pave the way for the children to obtain Israeli citizenship.

For the past two months Dan Goldberg and his twin sons, Itai and Liron, have been staying at a Mumbai hotel, awaiting permission from the Jerusalem Family Court to proceed with a paternity test that would determine whether he is indeed their biological father. Itai and Liron Goldberg have been denied permission to enter Israel.

Until the test is performed, the babies will not be granted entry into the country, nor will they be eligible to receive health insurance or medical treatments.

In dozens of prior instances, family courts have issued decrees requiring Israeli parents of children born abroad to undergo DNA testing to confirm they are in fact the biological parents - a prerequisite for the childrens' naturalization as Israeli citizens.

In Goldberg's case, the twin boys were delivered by a gestational carrier who had been implanted with an embryo from another woman. Goldberg cannot legally bring the babies into the country without permission from the court to perform a paternity test.

Judge Philip Marcus, unlike his colleagues on other family court benches, rendered a decision this past March in which he stated that he lacked the jurisdiction to issue a court order for Goldberg to take a paternity test. In addition to the Goldberg case, Marcus has also delayed issuing decrees in two other instances involving homosexual couples from Jerusalem expecting the birth of their children via surrogacy.

In explaining his decision, and as appears in the state protocol, Marcus stated: "If it turns out that one of the [purported fathers] sitting here is a pedophile or serial killer, these are things that the state must examine."

An appeal was filed on Goldberg's behalf with the Jerusalem District Court, yet a panel of primarily religiously observant judges agreed with the petitioner's claim that Marcus does have authority to issue an order for a paternity test, but ordered that a legal guardian be appointed to represent the minors, and that the case be referred back to Marcus.

"This is a state of contradictions," Goldberg, a 42-year-old Jerusalem restaurateur, said via telephone in Mumbai. "I'm an Israeli citizen, I served in a combat unit during two intifadas and I still serve in the reserves. I've also volunteered with the police for years. But when I want to realize my right to be a parent, the state kicks me to the curb."

No time to reflect

Each of the three prospective fathers who have been denied the court order for a paternity test requested the assistance of a clinic in India to begin the surrogacy process, over the course of the last year. Each also signed a legally binding agreement with a woman, an Indian citizen, who agreed to carry the child to term after being implanted with an embryo. The egg donor and the child's carrier renounced any claims to the children.

Late last year, each of the three men filed separate appeals with the Jerusalem Family Court to begin the process of confirming their paternity by DNA testing so that the children who were either born or had yet to be delivered would receive Israeli citizenship. After appearing before Marcus this past March, the three men were surprised when the judge ruled that he lacked the authority to issue the order - despite the fact that other family court judges had repeatedly done so in prior surrogacy cases.

Homosexual couples in Israel who wish to conceive a child via surrogacy primarily pursue this option in the United States and India. As the practice has become more widespread, the Interior Ministry issued a set of guidelines that codify the process of naturalization for the newborns so that they would be legally permitted entry into the country. In the case of male homosexual couples, because only one parent can be the biological father, the other is usually required to go through the process of adopting the baby in order to receive recognition as the child's legal guardian.

In his conversation with Haaretz yesterday, Goldberg sounded frustrated. He has so far spent $45,000 to complete the surrogacy process, after looking for ways to have children for four years. After two failed attempts at in vitro fertilization in India, he finally realized his dream.

Goldberg, who is struggling to get by while in India, has not been able to find time to reflect on the experience. "The cost of living here over time is exorbitant," he said. "Since I need to provide my children with a good environment, the hotel is reasonable. But they have no insurance, I can't get them the vaccinations that babies usually receive in Israel, and I can't afford the costs of medical check-ups.

"I've burned through my savings and I have asked foreigners to help me financially," he continued. "Other couples that came to Mumbai after me have already left India with their children - who received citizenship because they received the court order for the paternity test from judges who are not in Jerusalem.

"Let me wage this legal battle with my children in Israel, not India," he said.