To Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour:
We are writing to tell you about our dire situation here in New Delhi, as we are very distressed and frightened over the events that took place here.
I am American and my husband is Swedish, but we both reside in Canada. We came to India to hire a surrogate mother, as I am unable to carry a child. We then asked Dr. Shivani Sachdev-Gour of SCI Healthcare in New Delhi to arrange for IVF and surrogacy. At first, our relationship was fine and I was even helping to refer many international couples to her. She agreed to pay us a referral fee of 100,000 Rs per case. In addition, she had also promised us a special discounted price of 555,000 Rs for our IVF/surrogacy package to be nice because we were helping her surrogacy business. Instead of paying us the referral fees in cash, she said that she would deduct the referral fees from our account since we owed her 555,000 Rs for our own case. Our IVF succeeded, and our surrogate became pregnant with our child. We then planned our trip to India to pick up our baby.
All went well up until 3 weeks before our baby was born. Ms. Sachdev-Gour demanded in excess of 350,000 Rs more than what she said our package price was. We were astonished at this because she had not kept her word and we even have e-mail evidence from her saying that our package price was only 555,000 Rs. She continues to insist a different price package. We felt extremely upset about this because she brought this up only 3 weeks before our baby was due. We also felt frightened by her because our baby and surrogate are under her care and she is taking advantage of this by asking for more money during this vulnerable time. We feel she is extorting as much money as she can from us, as we will have no other choice but to comply to her demands. What she doesn’t realize is that I don’t intend to keep quiet and feel everyone should be warned of doctors like her who are so greedy that they will take advantage of the foreign intended parents who have no one to help them here in India. I am lucky that I do have a lawyer here in New Delhi (Mr. Sunil Agrawal) who is helping us with this situation. However, it has been a nightmare since we got here in India. It has involved extortion and meetings with the police, surrogate’s husband, and the doctor. We are very unhappy and uncomfortable with these shady dealings. We feel that we are stuck here, even though we have done everything legitimately and signed original contracts with our lawyer, the surrogate and the doctor. We also know that our accounts are clear and that we have e-mail evidence of our dealings, our original birth certificate and Swedish passport to prove that we have done everything in our power properly and ethically.
Our baby was born September 15 and we are still in India. We got a Swedish passport for our baby the last week in September, but then we needed to apply for an exit visa from the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) and FRRO (Foreigner’s Regional Registration Office). The MHA asked for an inquiry and said that this is required for all surrogacy cases in order to prevent intended parents from leaving the country without fully paying the surrogate and having genuine documents. The problem with this scenario, however, is that the doctor has a lot of power in preventing the FRRO from knowing the truth, since the intended parents (IPs) must pay the doctor and the doctor pays the surrogate on the intended parents’ behalf. If the relationship between the doctor and IPs sour, then the doctor can prevent the IPs from getting an exit visa by hindering or falsifying information about the surrogate to the FRRO. We are now experiencing this with Ms. Sachdev-Gour because she is not cooperating with us or the police to get us our exit visa. She is basically holding us hostage here in India by these false fees and unfair charges.
She has filed a complaint with the local police that we have not paid our dues, when in fact, we have more than paid our dues. We have also filed a complaint to the police, but, unfortunately, no action was taken. Our package price is 555,000 Rs and we have referred 6 clients (so a total of 600,000 Rs). We have also paid an additional 50,000 Rs cash for the C-section delivery of our baby, in which we have a receipt. Ms. Sachdev-Gour in fact owes us money (95,000 Rs), but we don’t care to get this money back, only that we want our exit visa for our baby so we can leave India. On top of that, she will neither pay the surrogate or Phoenix hospital the money we have already paid to her by way of referral fees or cash payment. It is us who is being cheated by her. She has now written an additional bill where we now supposedly owe her over 600,000 Rs for fees that are made up and were not agreed upon. We have spoken to the owner of Phoenix Hospital (Dr. Deepak Seghal) where our baby was born and showed him these bills. He has told us the true prices for the delivery of the baby, and they are nowhere near what Ms. Sachdev-Gour is charging. She is basically taking advantage of Western couples because she thinks she has the power over them and that we have unlimited supply of money. I’m afraid that she probably has extorted money from many other couples, as this is probably not the first time she has done this.
Right now, we are at the mercy of the police investigation and are still stuck in Delhi waiting for the FRRO’s police report. We have said that we are willing to pay whatever is due as long as it is fair, legitimate and not in contradiction to our agreed package. Because the FRRO still hasn’t approved our baby’s exit visa, we feel we are getting nowhere. We decided we needed to get additional media help to voice our agony over this so that others are warned about the doctor and clinics in India and know about the incredible difficulties and unethical dealings one faces here in India when doing surrogacy.
We have heard around the Internet that there are other couples also complaining of Ms. Sachdev-Gour but no-one has stood up to her. This is not just an exception but a common problem with many other foreign couples with other doctors/clinics, where the doctor can increase the prices and threaten harm or hindrance in obtaining their children. We feel that we should say something and let the media know about this situation as this is a terrible tragedy to keep parents from rightfully bringing their babies back to their home country. We hope you can write our story in your newspaper to help put a stop to the unbelievable corruption, greed and extortion that takes place in surrogacy, especially since many foreigners from Western countries are flocking to India to do just this. Human beings are involved, and these kinds of happenings will forever tarnish the view of India if this kind of madness doesn’t stop.
Please let me know if you need any additional information or contact information. Feel free to contact us at any time. Thank you for your attention.