By Lynn Willoughby
The House for Happy Mothers ~ Amulya Malladi
The ethics and emotions of surrogacy are the theme of this novel. And the surrogacy market in India is the locale. Is it exploitive? Is there a win-win?
Priya is a second generation woman living in the trendy Silicon Valley. She has a loving husband, a great career, lots of friends – but is unable to carry a foetus to term. She is desparate to be a mother.
In southern India, Asha has two healthy children, but little else. Her family lives in a rented shack, her husband often doesn’t make enough money to feed his family. Asha’s five year old son, Manoj, is a gifted child in a family that has absolutely no way to get him admitted to a good school. So Asha reluctantly checks into the Happy Mothers House – “…a baby farm where she can rent out her only asset – her womb…”
Even writing this gives me the chills. Priya must believe that a woman she has never met will pay to keep herself and her unborn baby healthy. Asha has all the emotions of a pregnancy that will result is a baby she will never hold, will never see. Not only that, but I was left with the feeling that Asha, because of her economic distress, will be coerced by her husband and sister-in-law, guilt for her son, to do this again, and again. The surrogacy market in India seems to be thriving but this author missed a huge opportunity to help us understand. I DON’T want to read about Priya and Medhu going to parties, or Priya’s difficulties in her relationship with her mother. Neither did I want to read about the surrogate mothers so desperate for material things that they are renting their wombs multiple times.
This is a heart breaking situation on every level. We have well-to-do parents who write cavalier cheques a get a baby – never thinking of how they are exploiting these women. We have the run down, shabby, dirty house where the pregnant women spend their time waiting waiting to deliver. We have the unethical doctor who runs the house and takes the lions share of the money paid by the wealthy new parents. We have the director of a film crew making a “documentary” of the House, after Asha and others have been told what to say. This is not a House for Happy Mothers. Husbands and extended family members, paid staff at the House were happy – but not the mothers.
The moral and social attitude of families left me sickened. Let me be clear – it is not the writing here that disturbed me. It is the subject.
- The Mango Season
- Serving Crazy With Curry
Selling an organ makes for an unbalanced demand on many families fleeing political conflict. In some countries the obligation to sell a kidney for the financial sake of the family is being passed down from the father to his wife and to their under aged children.