What should the citizenship of a child born out of surrogacy be?

Citizenship means to be a legal citizen or a member of a designated State or a Country. A person of a country is awarded citizenship if they qualify a certain set of laws. A citizen of a country is given the rights mentioned in the constitution or told by the specific government of the country. There are different ways in which a person can attain citizenship. Some ways are-

1) Citizen by Birth

2) Born in a country

3) Naturalised citizen

Citizenship by birth is granted to the children whose parents are a citizen of a particular State. Although, some countries like USA believe that if a child is born in their country, the child should be given the citizenship of that Country. If a person wants to change his citizenship from a country to another country, he must qualify some rules and then surrender the existing one. The rules are such as staying in that country for a particular time or having no severe criminal records. These citizens are called naturalised citizens. There are some countries which don’t allow other citizens to come in whereas some countries allow them to have citizenship of 2 countries. Being a citizen of 2 countries is called dual citizenship. It only happens when both the countries agree to give the citizenship. All the naturalised citizens might only be restricted to some rights.

On the other hand there have been questions rising about the citizenship of a surrogate child. Surrogacy means that a couple with issues for having a child hires a mother to give birth to a child. When the child is born, the mother gives the child to the couple and mostly in turn gets money. The mother who is giving the birth is called the surrogate mother. “What nationality should be given to a surrogate child whose surrogate mother is from a different country than the parents?” This question had been very tough to solve and there have been many cases to solve.

People who want to have a family but can’t have hire a surrogate mother. Issues arrive when the surrogate mother is from a different country than the client. A similar case had happened with a Norwegian woman, Kari Ann Volden. She hired a surrogate mother in India to carry a baby. Some Surrogacy laws in India say that the surrogate mother will have no relation with the child and will hand over it to the client. The surrogate mother gave birth to twins in 2010. Happily, Volden applied for the passport for “her” sons in Norway. Unfortunately, Norway refused to give them the passport as the rule in Norway says that the Indian surrogate was their real mother and not Volden. Volden then tried to attain Indian Citizenship for them but the Government of India also refused as they recognize Volden as their mother and Volden had no relation with India. Both, Volden and the kids, was stuck from both the sides. The kids were “stateless” for two 2 years. The 3 of them were alone in India searching for help until Volden went to Norway and legally adopted the kids. Finally the children got Norwegian citizenship.

This case study would be a great example to explain how tough it gets when there are many countries involved for citizenship. In this case, both the countries were enforcing their own laws which were totally opposite. Though they might be right to themselves, they are not the same in each Country. This is one of the main problems that the rules on citizenship are not universally applicable. Currently India is making laws towards dual citizenship for these cases. This will help the child to be a citizen of both the countries, one of the surrogate mother and the other of the client.

As the population is increasing, the citizenship process is getting more and more complex and confusing. Everyday there are cases that come up in the news of this issue. It is here that we must understand that parenthood and human emotions are complex aspects of life that cannot be governed by a single legal framework. The actual lives and relationships between the parents, the surrogate mother and their child exist much beyond the superficial paperwork and VISA stamps — citizenship is only one method of trying to ethically regulate them.