Twins born to a surrogate mother are stateless | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 05.03.2010
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Twins born to a surrogate mother are stateless

They are twins and more than two years old, but do not have a country they can call home.

Surrogate mothers wait for check up at a clinic: commercial surrogacy has been thriving in India

Surrogate mothers wait for check up at a clinic: commercial surrogacy has been thriving in India

A proud and desperate father from southern Germany, who describes his situation as hopeless. He and his wife have stopped thinking about a comfortable future as a family for the time being.

The 47 year old father, who doesn’t want to reveal his real name, and his wife had twins in India more than two years ago.

The twins were borne by an Indian surrogate mother, who gave birth to them at a clinic in the western state of Gujarat.

But the joy was short-lived and what followed was something of a shock. "One week after the birth of the children, we phoned the embassy and told them that the kids had been born to a surrogate Indian mother," says the father. "The authorities literally shrugged their shoulders and said : 'Sorry, we can no longer help you'. So we were left stuck and alone in a foreign country."

Surrogacy illegal in Germany

The children are learning to speak in the meantime. They are learning German. But they cannot leave India or go to Germany. German law does not recognize surrogacy as a means of parenthood, says Thomas Matussek, the German Ambassador in New Delhi:

"It is illegal because it is not compatible with our idea of human dignity, which is enshrined in our constitution," says Matussek. "There are cases where a tragic situation is caused by the fact that someone has ignored the law. Two little Indians have come to this world without any fault of their own. But I cannot automatically make them into Germans. That is forbidden by law."

German law is clear. But the Bavarian couple's wish to found a family and have children was simply too overwhelming:

Thomas Matussek

German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek

"We interpreted it in the way that it was forbidden only in Germany. But we were abroad," says the father.

Nowhere to go

There lies the dilemma. The German authorities say: the twins are Indians. The Indians say: the twins are German. As a result the kids currently belong nowhere, they are stateless. The father is now fighting for them in the court:

"What should we do? Should we leave behind the kids? Or release them for adoption, or put them in an orphanage? It is out of the question. When you look at the little ones, you immediately feel a connection and feel the responsibility. I do not know who in a situaiton like this would say: I choose my comfortable life in Germany and give away the children because I am unable to deal with this situation."

Long battle ahead

An art historian by profession, the father has not left India since the birth of the twins. His wife has already returned to Germany to earn money so that her husband can continue the struggle in India.

He has filed a plea in India's Supreme Court to get passports for the children, so that they can leave the country.

Perhaps the issue could be resolved if he were to adopt the children. But that too will take time and will not be easy.

Time is running out for him as well because his visa will soon expire. If the Indian authorities do not renew it, he will have to leave the country - without the twins.

Author: Kai Küstner / du
Editor: Grahame Lucas

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