Israeli rescue planes delivering emergency workers and supplies to help victims of the earthquake in Nepal have returned to Israel with an unusual cargo: 26 infants who were born of surrogate mothers to gay Israeli couples and other nontraditional parents.
TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli rescue planes delivering emergency workers and supplies to help victims of the earthquake in Nepal have returned to Israel with an unusual cargo: 26 infants who were born of surrogate mothers to gay Israeli couples and other nontraditional parents.
The rescue mission highlights the growing popularity of overseas surrogacy for Israeli couples who can afford it. It also raised questions about the safety of dozens of pregnant surrogates who remain in Nepal amid battered infrastructure and overwhelmed hospitals. The Israeli government has said it would admit the women to Israel to await the births.
Israelis who were in Nepal with their newborns tell harrowing tales of what happened when the earthquake struck Saturday.
Dana Magdassi, founder of Lotus Surrogacy, one of two Israeli firms that provide the service in Nepal, described a fraught weekend of coordinating the safe return of each of 10 babies conceived for her clients. The Israeli Embassy in Nepal has only three workers, she said, and hundreds of Israelis crowded its backyard, sleeping in tents in the cold night air.
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Magdassi’s clients described dire shortages of food and bottles for their infants. She sent extra supplies with Israeli rescue planes headed to Nepal.
The infants and their parents arrived Sunday, Monday and Tuesday on the return flights of the rescue aircraft.
Although Tel Aviv is one of the gay capitals of the world, Israeli law doesn’t allow same-sex couples to adopt or to have children via surrogates in their home country. Foreign surrogacy has boomed in Israel in the past decade, first in India — until it restricted the service to heterosexual couples — then in Nepal.
With the babies safely in Israel, the surrogacy agencies are coping with pregnant women left behind. Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, said about 100 women in Nepal were pregnant with the children of Israeli parents.
Israel has agreed to allow the women to travel to Israel and deliver the children, Hirschson said.