The Irish Government has requested that all families expecting a baby through a surrogate in Ukraine register for assistance.
Many countries fear the possibility of a military incursion in Ukraine due to the presence of Russian troops on the border. Irish families expecting a baby via a surrogate based in Ukraine have been asked to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to make preparations for bringing their babies home in the event of instability in the region.
Speaking to the Irish Seanad, senator Mary Seery-Kearney said she was 'urging any families expecting babies via surrogacy in Ukraine to get in touch with me so I can connect them with the appropriate parties'. Unclear on the number of families affected, Seery-Kearney said 'we believed it was 14, but I've had more emails than that. It would suggest others are only becoming aware of their need to act now'. It is understood the department will offer special diplomatic assistance to Irish couples expecting babies.
Around 68 percent of surrogacies for Irish intended parents were carried out in Ukraine, a survey in 2017 showed.
While no official statistics exist, it has been estimated that thousands of babies are born through surrogacy in Ukraine each year, with 80 percent of them being intended for foreign couples from around the world. Commercial surrogacy has been legal in Ukraine since 2000 for married heterosexual couples and the intended parents are recognised as the legal parents of the baby through the process in Ukrainian law.
Intended parents from the UK are also affected. Speaking to the Mirror, Ben Garratt, a British man currently living in Ukraine to oversee paperwork for his surrogate-born son, Raphael, acknowledged the country as 'an international hub of people coming for surrogacy services'.
'What was going to be a period of potential boredom, waiting in an apartment in Kyiv for two or three months, is now more nerve-racking' said Garratt. 'Unless we can get a passport for Raphael in the conventional way, or if that becomes impossible, the British Embassy get to the point they can give Raphael an emergency passport, we can't leave'.
The uncertainty for foreign intended parents going through the surrogacy process in Ukraine follows recent disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country shut its borders to limit the spread of the virus in March 2020, leaving many parents unable to fly to collect their babies and prompting some debate by Ukrainian officials over the industry's scale (see Bionews 1048).