Deaf parents can now dial-a-child – next engineer a deaf one ?

MUMBAI: US President Barack Obama may not recommend “cheap healthcare” in India for his countrymen but Alan and Brian, a deaf-and-mute gay American couple couldn’t find a better place to have their twins, a girl and a boy.

After trying for a baby in the US for about six years, the couple decided to come to Mumbai. Had the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) did not work out in Mumbai, they would have given up on their dream to have a complete family. However, their life changed after they landed the “city of dreams”.

“We have been together for the past 16 years. For a long time we tried to adopt a child, but the adoption agency told us that there was a very slim chance for us, as most parents wanted to send their children to a normal family. We are deaf-and-mute, apart from being gay,” explained Alan in sign language, while his friend, Maria Miciani, interpreted it for TOI on Monday.

When the couple visited the Rotunda center for surrogacy in Bandra, they found that they could have a child in a lower budget, and moreover, they could provide good care for the surrogate mother. “We typed in a couple of keywords like ‘gay’ and ‘surrogacy’ and found this center. After visiting the place, we decided to go ahead with the procedure,” explained Brian.

The task, however, was not easy. “They approached us in August 2010. First, they wanted an egg donor from their own country. But that didn’t work out. So in October, we fertilized eggs from an Indian donor with Alan’s sperm. The embryos were implanted in a surrogate mother from the city,” said Dr Gautam Allahbadia, medical director of the center. “They became parents of a boy and a girl on May 1. Going by the Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines, the couple will not have any legal problem taking the children back home.”

“We’ve named our babies Sela and Seth,” said Alan, adding that the babies have Indian features. The couple seem to fuss over the kids more than “normal parents” would, a doctor at the center said. Explaining why they are more worried than usual, Brian said, “As the babies have genes of biological parents belonging to two different geographical areas, we don’t know what factors the kids would be sensitive to. For example, it is quite warm here in India, but once we return to the US, the climate is not going to be the same.”

The couple runs a sign language school in the US and plans to teach the children all that they know. “The babies will learn sign language from us, but we will also teach them to talk with the help of a special computer,” said Brian.