This was our last oprion yo have a family
Australian Parents Warn Reality of Ukrainian Surrogacy Doesn't Always Match the Dream
How do you protect yourself from these kinds of things as an intending parent? We at Delivering Dreams make sure that transparency with our clients is in place. It is important that intending parents know what is going on, who their surrogate is, and how much the process costs.
Two couples who had children through surrogates in Ukraine are warning prospective parents to do their research thoroughly before choosing an agency to help facilitate it.
"We absolutely think overseas surrogacy is a great pathway," mother of surrogate twins Louise Pitcher told 7.30. "We just think there are safer ways to do this, particularly in providing people [with] as much information as possible." The Pitchers, and another couple, have raised a series of concerns about surrogate company Lotus, including treatment of the surrogates, the lack of information and support and unexpected or uncovered medical expenses. Reproductive law specialist Dr Sonia Allan from Deakin University has a number of concerns about overseas surrogacy. She said low incomes in Ukraine, where women earn as little as $3,000 a year, and issues around the legality of the practice in Australia, made for a complex situation. "[There are] so many implications for the women being used as a surrogate, and for the children being born and brought back to Australia," she said.
After treatment for cancer, Ms Pitcher was unable to have children, but along with her husband Dale, had created precious embryos via IVF when she was first diagnosed. Mr Pitcher went along to an information session by Sam Everingham, who runs a not-for-profit support and education organisation called Growing Families (formerly known as Families through Surrogacy). "Dale came home really excited, like, 'this is it, we can have a baby'," Ms Pitcher told 7.30. Mr Pitcher said: "This was our last option to have a family of our own." The Pitchers said they were advised by Mr Everingham to go with an agency called Lotus. "As far as Sam's sales pitch is concerned, it is predominantly Lotus," Ms Pitcher said. They took Mr Everingham's advice and a surrogate mother was arranged in Ukraine. They said at first Lotus was in regular contact, but once the surrogate became pregnant, the level of communication dropped. Their twins, Flynn and Ivy, were born very premature, with bleeding on the brain, and one child needed surgery. The couple said a lack of interpreters meant they struggled to understand what was happening.
And Lotus requested more and more cash. "Get this much money, this time in US currency, this time in Ukranian currency," Ms Pitcher said she was told by Lotus representatives. The initial estimate for the Pitchers' surrogacy process was $90,000. In the end they paid more than $140,000.
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