[Note from Frolic: We are so excited to have Falguni Kothari guest post on the site today. Take it away Falguni!]
My parents were married for seventeen years before I came along, quite the unexpected surprise for them. And while they never speak of their trials to grow their family, I can only imagine what they went through to have me. The monthly disappointments, the daily prayers, the years of yearning for a fecund union in an age when reproductive medicine hadn’t advanced enough to step in and help. My parents had reconciled with their fate until the day The Mother at the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry blessed my mother with a rose and nine months later, I was born—or so the story goes.
With an auspicious beginning like that, I’ve always been aware of the rituals, the psyche, the superstitions and the value associated with the word family, and more importantly, motherhood, and the lengths we travel to achieve it. What if, like my parents, my husband and I have trouble conceiving? I wondered right after my wedding, clearly afraid my genes were not up to par to bear a child. It turned out, I’d worried needlessly. But such fears are so real for plenty of women (and men) as fertility rates drop around the world, and for same-sex couples, and for single people who’ve given up on love but not on parenthood. Luckily, advances in fertility medicine and the processes of surrogacy and adoption have made many a dream come true.
Below is list of novels that shed light on parenthood via surrogacy.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
In a near-future dystopian world ripe with injustice, oppression and infertility, Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. Her duty in the household of the Commander and his wife is to make her womb, which has been proven to be fertile, available to them for surrogacy. The Handmaid’s Tale is a beautifully written novel, disturbing in the best possible way and a must read for all women everywhere.
The Choices We Make by Karma Brown
The road to hell is paved with good intentions has never been more true than in The Choices We Make. Hannah and Kate have been great friends since they were children, and so when Hannah receives the news that she may never get pregnant, Kate offers to step in as her surrogate and an egg donor as only a best friend would. But even altruism isn’t free of complication as they both will soon learn. Keep a box of tissues close for this one.
The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward
In The Nearness of You, we dive deep into the process and the laws of compensated surrogacy, the reasons why someone might choose to go that route, or, why they might choose not to have children at all, and what might happen if a couple isn’t on the same page about having children. Ward doesn’t stop there. She deftly and lyrically explores mother-daughter relationships, fatherhood, and the lies we tell rather than rock the family boat.
A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi
A House for Happy Mothers touches on the best and worst aspects of India’s surrogacy industry and the moral ambiguity that surrounds compensated surrogacy. When is it okay to “rent” a womb to make your dreams come true? Told in alternative points of view between the intended mother who is educated and privileged in all ways but one, and the surrogate, a village woman burdened with her family’s future, the story starkly highlights the differences between the haves and the have-nots of the world, and the one thing they might have in common—a desperate desire to have it all.
Origins of Love by Kishwar Desai
Origins of Love is a thriller set in the world of the million-dollar surrogacy industry in India and the United Kingdom. Through an array of interesting characters and storylines, Desai turns our attention to the rot and corruption inherent in the industry, and the tragedies that result from negligence and exploitation of women and the underprivileged.
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
With heart and humor, in Then Came You, Weiner explores the themes of egg donation and surrogacy through the lives of four women. An egg donor feels regret and wonders about the child she’s created years later. A surrogate wrestles with the fact that she’ll have to give up the baby she’s gestating. A new mother hopes to forge a bond with her baby—one she didn’t birth—while wondering if she’s already failed as a parent. A complex, wrenching and utterly readable book.
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About the Author:
Falguni Kothari is the author of unconventional love stories and kick-ass fantasy tales. Her four novels, most recently My Last Love Story, are all flavored by her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. An award-winning Indian Classical, Latin and Ballroom dancer, she currently spikes her endorphin levels with Zumba. She resides in New York with her family and pooch.
The Object of Your Affections by Falguni Kothari out now!
Paris Kahn Fraser has it all—a successful career as an assistant district attorney, a beautiful home in New York City, and a handsome, passionate husband who chose her over having a family of his own. Neal’s dream of fatherhood might have been the only shadow in their otherwise happy life…until Paris’s best friend comes to town.
Naira Dalmia never thought she’d be a widow before thirty. Left reeling in the aftermath of her husband’s death, all she wants is to start over. She trades Mumbai for New York, and rigid family expectations for the open acceptance of her best friend. After all, there isn’t anything she and Paris wouldn’t do for each other.
But when Paris asks Naira to be their surrogate, they’ll learn if their friendship has what it takes to defy society, their families and even their own biology as these two best friends embark on a journey that will change their lives forever.