Conflicts & War

Ukraine’s surrogacy industry continues to operate despite war

By Lourdes Velasco

Kyiv, May 19 (EFE).- In war-ravaged Ukraine, one of Europe’s surrogacy hotspots, foreign couples can now take their newborns after spending a month or even just a few weeks in the country for prices starting at 39,900 euros.

Igor Petrovich, the director of a pregnancy clinic in Kyiv, tells Efe that surrogates, who receive less than half of what the parents pay, generally spend the money on house renovations, taking care of their children, or to simply get by.

Many of them not only do it once, but they sign up two, three and four times.

“The limit depends on age and health status”, says Petrovich.

About 500 babies are born every year in the clinic, all of whom go to couples living outside Ukraine.

Alina, who prefers not to say her last name, has been working in the clinic for five years and says that she feels satisfied to be able to offer families “what they have been looking for in life.”

Some of the surrogates are divorced, others are unemployed while others are in need of money to live or to raise their children, explains Alina, who does not see ethical problems with the surrogacy programme, regulated by the Ukrainian government.

“This is legal. Most surrogates come here because they earn money and are well treated. Thanks to them, families will have their desired babies. It’s better than prostitution,” says Alina.

The surrogates receive, according to the director of the clinic, between 16,000 and 25,000 euros for renting their wombs.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February has left gestational surrogates uncertain of what would happen to their contracts, being in a war zone and unable to deliver the children after birth.

Sergii Antonov, a lawyer and director of a medical and reproductive law center, tells Efe that most of the contracts signed during the war ended well and surrogates were able to deliver the children and receive their money.

“However, there are also tragic cases when surrogate mothers lost their pregnancy due to stress, gave birth to children prematurely, some mothers ended up in the Russian-occupied territory and cannot deliver their children to their intended parents,” he says.

Nadia, 36, feared finding herself in this situation. She lived in Kakhovka next to Kherson, where Russians and Ukrainians have been fighting for months.

She says she went through “hell” to be able to leave her town and finally did it on the third try.

The 29-week pregnant woman adds she has been crying nonstop not because of the pregnancy itself but because of what she had to go through to leave town with her three children, aged 14, 11 and 10.

“I was afraid of not being able to deliver the child or of giving birth before time. I thought that if I had him in Kherson I was going to take care of him until I could hand him over to his parents who were waiting for him,” she continues.

Petrovich says that at the beginning of the war, the women who were about to give birth as well as the clinic medical staff were taking shelter underground while bombs were falling on Kyiv.

“The children’s lives were at risk; here we protected them,” he says.

Petrovich believes that even during the war, Ukrainian women who need money will have a good economic outcome at his clinic. EFE

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