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Divergent laws leave twins stateless

[India]

by Sumitra Deb RoyThe Times of India
February 2nd, 2011

Kari Ann Volden

It is an odd tale of two brothers. A pair of twins born to a surrogate lives stateless, while the police and two major governments confusedly fumble about for more than a year in an attempt to understand the case and decide their nationality.

Norwegian national Kari Ann Volden came to Mumbai in 2009 to have a child through surrogacy. Suffering from premature ovarian failure, she approached Rotunda fertility clinic in Bandra and, with its help, chose an unrelated Scandinavian sperm donor and an Indian egg donor. The tailor-made embryo was implanted in a surrogate's womb in May the same year, and, in January 2010, twin boys were delivered.

Volden's tale of woes began in February when she requested Norway for travel documents for the newborns. The country's consul general rejected the plea after mandatory DNA tests showed that she and the children were not biologically related. Ever since, the twins are living with Volden in India in limbo.

Norway maintains that the Indian surrogate is the children's legal mother, while India insists the commissioning individual, Volden, is the parent. Clinging dearly to their rules, New Delhi refuses to make the kids Indian nationals, while Oslo denies them citizenship or adoption rights.

Meanwhile, Volden, 45, continues to run about, seeking a solution. With the case showing no signs of resolution, the police recently got involved in establishing the twins' parenthood. A team from the Mumbai police's crime branch visited the L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai and asked for information on the kids' 'biological' parents besides a report on the nature of the treatment the 'biological' parent received there.

Senior police inspector Samad Sheikh confirmed they had written to the hospital, but refused to divulge details. For his part, the CEO of the hospital, Dr Sujit Chatterjee, said their role was restricted to delivering the children.
Focus has also turned on Rotunda. About three weeks ago, a team of CID officials from Delhi visited the fertility clinic to ask about the details of the surrogacy and the IVF technique used. Rotunda's medical director Dr Gautam Allahabadia insisted his clinic did nothing wrong or unethical in Volden's case.

But such explanations have not cut ice with Norway which insists that Norwegian maternity or paternity must be established for the children to be granted citizenship. It also turned down Volden's plea last September to adopt the twins. 



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