Our experiences: Kiran Infertility Centre
At first our experiences of the Kiran Infertility Centre in Hyderabad were extremely positive, but as time went by and the pregnancy progressed, the clinic's interest seemed to wane. Eventually, in the final stages – just before and since the birth, the actions of the clinic veered towards reckless, with a total disregard for compliance with UK laws. What should have been the most joyous time of our lives became an incredibly distressing period of uncertainty – which continues to this day.
We can't argue that the outcome of the surrogacy arrangement managed by the Kiran Infertility Centre – two healthy happy boys from a first attempt wasn't what we had hoped for. We are thrilled to have two sons and have fulfilled our dream of starting a family.
Things began to go wrong a few months in to the pregnancy when we started to enquire how things would work at the time of birth. We wanted to make some general plans and know exactly what to expect when the time came. The clinic's responses were vague and in some cases evasive – they were not inclined to give us any information on which to base anything. The most we learned was that twins are usually born at 36 weeks and that staff at the clinic would help with our travel plans. It was hard to see how travel plans could be laid if we didn't have any clue as to what we needed to do, when and where.
At week 33 of the pregnancy we received one of the regular updates from the clinic, including a scan. The estimated delivery date was noted as towards the end of July, so we called the clinic to see if everything was still going well. During the call, Dr Samit Sekhar checked his records and was adamant that we were only at week 30 of the pregnancy. This was extremely confusing as we did all the calculations, checked with a midwife in the UK and used online calculators to try to figure out where the discrepancy came from. Eventually after a week of uncertainty, we contacted the clinic again and Dr Sekhar stated quite matter of factly that we were indeed in week 33. The fact that he had checked his records during the call and could not accurately track the progress of our pregnancy started to raise some serious alarm bells.
We then pushed the point about how events would unfold after the birth... all the formalities that needed to be completed in order to get official documentation such as birth certificates, passports, etc. The first response that we received came as a complete shock – most of the things that the clinic was advising us were wildly inaccurate and in some cases not in any way aligned with the requirements of UK law. -
- Kiran Infertility Centre claimed that the British High Commission could issue a “parental order for birth abroad” - no such thing exists
- Kiran Infertility Centre claimed that we needed to make an appointment at the High Commission for an interview and arrange for a DNA testing kit to be sent to the High Commission – neither of these is possible and if we had arranged a DNA testing kit, it would have cost us hundreds of pounds and been redundant as no DNA test was required
- Kiran Infertility Centre informed us that they would obtain the surrogates consent for transferring parental responsibility immediately after the birth – this they said was in accordance with UK law. We know from our surrogacy lawyer that consent can only be obtained 6 weeks after the birth, no sooner.
- Kiran Infertility Centre claimed that they had an inside contact at the British High Commission and that they knew for a fact that High Commission staff, who are Indian, are homophobic and that if we made an application for passports as a same-sex couple that it would be delayed and held up for as long as possible
- Kiran Infertility Centre claimed that in their experience UK passports were issued within 4 to 6 weeks, including getting the results of the DNA tests
- Kiran Infertility Centre completely avoided the issue of how and when we would be expected to take custody of our children or what procedures we needed to follow
The Kiran Infertility Centre claims to have extensive experience with international intended parents – including many cases from the UK which they deal with regularly - on a monthly basis. They passed off the information they had as being obtained through experience of working with UK individuals and couples – but not one element of what we were told by them was in fact true.
Before the estimated delivery date we had asked Dr Sekhar to call us when our surrogate was going in to labour – so that we could make our way to Hyderabad and be there as soon as possible after the birth. He seemed genuinely surprised that we would want to be there, but agreed to call us. Two weeks later we received an email announcing that our sons had been born.
Dr Sekhar suggested that in order to avoid any delays in issuing documents after the birth we should ensure that our final payment to the clinic was made before the birth – something we stupidly agreed to. After the birth, it took ten days to get Kiran Infertility Centre to hand over the birth certificate, which had been issued by the authorities two days after the birth. We had to visit the clinic several times, in person to get all the documents we needed and could finally leave Hyderabad two weeks after the birth... thus two weeks delay in being able to apply for British passports.
As part of the passport application procedure we were required to submit the 18-page surrogacy agreement to the British High Commission. Unfortunately we were still waiting for Kiran Infertility Centre to deliver to us the original that had been signed by all parties at the outset. Instead, the told us that they had created a new 3-page “agreement” and that only one of us should sign it – and that the signature needed to be backdated. This apparently was so that the High Commission would not ask too many questions and because “commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK” so monies mentioned in the original contract would create a problem.
To be very blunt, we were being asked to commit fraud and to lie in our application to the High Commission – which we refused to do. We finally got the original contract with the explanation that we submitted it at our own risk. The High Commission did in fact need the original contract as this is where it was stipulated from the outset that we were adhering to all the legal requirements both in India as well as in for our return to the UK.
Kiran Infertility Centre also wanted to charge us an additional 1000 USD (the price should have been 2000 USD but they were giving us some kind of discount for some reason) to arrange the exit visas with the FRRO, including payment of a bribe to the FRRO office (described as an expense without receipt). and to provide all the additional documentation that we required for the exit visa. There should have been no extra documentation required other than that which we should have been given in any case in order to conclude the surrogacy.
Kiran Infertility Centre repeatedly tried to give us the details of previous patients who had successfully applied for passports. We already knew that they were paying between 500 and 1000 USD for referrals and testimonials, so it hardly seemed worth contacting these people.
We later found out that we were only the second case from Kiran Infertility Centre to submit an application for passports to the British High Commission. Their claims of extensive experience with intended parents from the UK is therefore a blatant fabrication.
The most distressing part of the entire story comes now, a little over 13 weeks after the birth. After supplying the clinic with the legal consent forms (including translation in Hindi) that need to be signed by our surrogate, in order for us to have parental rights over our sons, the clinic are withholding the documents. They claim to have them in their possession and keep on promising to send them to us, in exchange for information about the passport and exit visa application process. We have been waiting for 7 weeks. Finally I demanded the documents from Dr Sekhar and threatened to make an official complaint to the Indian authorities.
Two days later we received a package via DHL. The contents – an envelope with a single sheet of paper, printed with a fist, middle finger pointed upwards. (see picture) The meaning is abundantly clear and I suspect that we will not be receiving the surrogate's consent from the clinic.
Without the surrogate's consent, our chances of getting a parental order are significantly reduced. If we don't get a parental order we wont have the right to have our sons' birth certificates updated with both our names as the parents and our surrogate will continue to be the only person who has parental responsibility for our children, even if she is in India.
When confronted about their withholding the consent forms, the head of Kiran Infertility Centre's legal department, Sai Raj Jaiswal told us that we should be "grateful” for everything the clinic had done for us because we got a very "cheap" price.
For us this is not about money. We paid all the fees that were requested and now we just want the surrogacy to be concluded in a proper and legal fashion as was promised.
All in all, Kiran Infertility Centre – in particular Dr Samit Sekhar and Sai Raj Jaiswal made what should have been a joyous event in our lives in to an extremely stressful and anxious time. The saddest thing is that it could have been avoided – all of the problems that we have encountered stem from ignorance, verging on arrogance. We were not expecting them to have all the answers – but then they should just admit to intended parents that they do not have the experience that they claim, rather than giving out misleading and wholly inaccurate information which could have disastrous consequences.
We're posting this not from malice – but because we think that other people should be forewarned when entering in to an agreement with Kiran Infertility Centre and then facing similar problems. We are not being sponsored by any other clinic or agency to write a bad review – these are our genuine experiences, unbelievable or incredible as they may seem.
If you are thinking about working with Kiran Infertility Centre, be absolutely sure that you know what lies ahead and how you will handle the situation when, inevitably, things go wrong.
Khaled and Gerd