Parenting

How Hopeful Parents and Their Surrogates are the Forgotten Spoils of War

Eloise Edington  |   4 Mar 2022


When there’s conflict happening in the world, we think of the bombs, the hunger and the destruction. We think of the sick, the old and the people refusing to leave the neighbourhoods they’ve inhabited for over 50 years.  We think of the families fleeing their homes, the children whose worlds are ripped apart and the men who must stay and fight.

Like our readers, all of us at Fertility Help Hub are thinking of those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Our hearts go out to Ukrainian couples trying to conceive, who’ve had to put their family building plans on hold.  To the singletons already affected by two years of Covid lockdowns, whose efforts to find a partner have been thwarted by Putin.  To all the families worrying about the safety of loved ones.

Yet in times of conflict, rarely do we think of the people whose final hope of a family is stuck in a war zone.

Let us also think of the couples across the world with Ukrainian women as their surrogates…

Words by Holly Pigache

Ukraine is a surrogacy hotspot for international couples trying to conceive with fertility treatment.  Reports estimate there are currently hundreds of Ukrainian surrogates carrying foreigners’ babies – foreigners who are heterosexual and married, though, as surrogacy services in Ukraine are not available to same-sex couples or solo parents by choice.

The main reasons for the popularity of gestational surrogacy in Ukraine are legalities and cost.  Surrogacy is expensive in the UK and US and illegal in many other countries across the world –  surrogacy was legalised in Ukraine in 2002 and offers a more affordable surrogacy service for couples struggling with fertility.

A maternity hospital in Kyiv.  Credit: biotexcom.fertility.clinic

Since last week’s attack on Ukraine at the hands of Russian forces, hopeful parents around the world have found themselves in unexpected circumstances.  Checking phones, keeping abreast the news and praying their pregnant surrogate or newborn child is safe and well has become a new reality.  News articles report intended parents are concerned their surrogate will run out of essential medication and struggle to access funds and healthcare.  Some news stories share tales of couples travelling into war-torn Ukraine to bring their pregnant surrogate or newborn babies out of the country – home to safety.  Other stories tell of parents navigating military-occupied roads and bypassing closed embassies in a bid to bring home adopted Ukrainian children.

The situation in Ukraine is fraught and hopeful parents are fretful.

Alongside the emotional worries sit civil liberty concerns: in Ukraine, babies born by surrogacy are given no birthright citizenship.  This is only surmountable by involved parties pushing for citizen and travel documentation, which is often not the priority during conflict.

While the whole world considers the waves of war, in our fertility community, let’s spare a thought for the ripples of war, too.

Speak with a supportive fertility community during this difficult time on our free app – download it here – and receive expert advice on fertility treatment like surrogacy, by signing up to our weekly newsletter here.

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