Like the rest of the world, Ukraine faced the COVID-19 lockdown where many intended parents who hired surrogates in other countries to gestate their children could not pick up their surrogate-born babies due to worldwide travel restrictions. Now, just as COVID-19-related travel restrictions are being lifted, Ukraine is defending itself from an invasion by Russia, leaving the sovereignty of the country in doubt. There are many consequences to war (i.e., financial, political, psychological, etc.), but one consequence seems unexpected – what will happen to the babies born via surrogacy in Ukraine belonging to intended parents who live outside of Ukraine?
Unknown to many, Ukraine is a major international hub for surrogacy. It is estimated that approximately 2,500 babies are born in Ukraine via surrogacy each year. Ukraine provides a more affordable alternative to having a surrogate in countries like the United States, where surrogacy can average $100,000-$200,000, and Canada, where surrogacy can average $58,000-$90,000. In contrast, a surrogacy arrangement in Ukraine costs approximately $38,000-$44,000. However, this budget-friendly option clearly had its shortcomings.
Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, has been under nonstop Russian attack since February 24, 2022. Russian troops have been moving closer day by day from the north, east, and south of Ukraine, where Russia and Ukraine share their borders, forcing Ukrainians to flee to the western region of Ukraine or nearby countries or take shelter in basements or concrete bunkers, if available.
Russia has targeted many hospitals with their attacks, leaving Ukrainian wounded soldiers with no place to rest and recover and leaving newborn babies, especially prematurely born babies, and the staff caring for them with no safe shelter, lack of utilities, and no access to necessary medical equipment.
According to a CNN article, a prominent Ukrainian reproductive clinic based in Kyiv named BioTexCom – Center for Human Reproduction has relocated their surrogate-born babies belonging to international intended parents to a concrete bunker in the outskirts of Kyiv. BioTexCom has chosen to suspend its surrogacy program, focusing on supporting the surrogates who are currently pregnant and getting the newborns safely out of the country. While the clinic can try to transport the infants to safer areas in the west of Ukraine, the new parents still have to pick up the babies inside of Ukraine for legal reasons. This leaves parents with the difficult decision to enter a war-ravaged country to pick up their newborn babies or the more difficult decision – to leave the baby there, hoping they will be transported to safety. Newborns, some of whom are prematurely born, lie waiting in concrete bunkers, basements, and makeshift clinics, waiting to begin their new lives with their families, but when will these new lives begin? This is a question left to be answered by world politics and leaders.
Andrew W. Vorzimer heads the firm’s Third-Party Reproductive Practice at Vorzimer/Masserman (VM). Mr. Vorzimer is a frequent author on subjects including third-party reproduction, surrogacy, and egg donation. Mr. Vorzimer was the recipient of the “Illumination Award” from the American Fertility Association (AFA) and the 2017 Whittier Law School Alumni Attorney of the Year Award.
Mr. Vorzimer has been quoted as an expert or appeared in numerous magazines and news shows, including 60 Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Medical News Today, USA Today, and MSNBC. Mr. Vorzimer is recognized worldwide as the foremost expert in the fields of Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Reproductive Law.