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Friday, 01 July 2022 16:06

Ukrainian surrogacy mothers locked up in war-torn country

In this photograph taken on June 4, 2020, Olga Korsunova, a 27-year-old going through her fourth surrogate pregnancy, poses in her rental flat in Kiev. Photo AFP, Sergei Supinsky

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In the midst of the war in Ukraine, the country’s surrogate mothers are in a dilemma between legal contracts and family. Meanwhile, would-be parents are desperately trying to get updates on their child.

If they flee their home country, they end up in a situation in which they cannot give the baby over to the would-be parents. All countries in the region (with Georgia as exception) would see that as child trafficking. Staying in Ukraine would not be an option either. The would-be parents would not be able to pick the child up there.

Internationally, Ukraine is known as one of the most popular choices for surrogacy. However, as the American news website Quartz reports, fertility clinics are now fielding a barrage of calls from would-be parents outside Ukraine who are desperate for updates on their surrogate mothers.

In anticipation of a Russian attack, some facilities had already taken measures for the safety of the Ukrainian women, transporting them towards more western regions of the country. BioTexCom, one of the leading womb-for-hire companies in the country, even built a bomb shelter. The Kyiv-based company posted a video on the eve of the invasion, showing a shelter equipped with gas masks, sleeping bags, canned food, and cribs. According to the organisations, the bunker can accommodate 200 people.

However, the war changed everything. It raises ethical and legal questions. Should a surrogate mother be put away somewhere safe to protect the child she’s growing for someone else? Or should she be with her own family, in her hometown? Or even out on the streets defending her nation?

In an article in American magazine The Atlantic, the contracts of these surrogate mothers are described. “Parents may want a surrogate to abstain from certain foods, such as coffee, or certain activities, such as kickboxing.” The writer claims to have seen contracts with North American surrogates “saying no to hair dye, perfume, dentistry, and even sex. Other times parents try to restrict a woman’s movements: no moving abroad, for instance, or no travelling more than 100 miles from home.”

Contracts

The contracts caused Ukrainian surrogate mothers to worry about their future. According to the British newspaper The Times, a pregnant surrogate mother in Ukraine asked a lawyer before the invasion whether the biological parents of the unborn child would be able to force her out of the country.

However, the Ukrainian woman was not planning on abandoning her own children. Meanwhile, the client couple wanted her to go to Georgia for the rest of her pregnancy to reach her without any problems.

Susan Kersch-Kibler, the surrogacy agency ‘Delivering Dreams’ founder, decided to move her surrogates west to Lviv before the war began. However, the women she communicated with were not happy to go. Kersch-Kibler says so in The Atlantic. “A few days after the move, two of the women told me via WhatsApp that they missed their kids. “I hope we go back to Kyiv as soon as possible,” one said.”

After the war broke out, Kersch-Kibler tried to move more surrogates to safety. Some of them did not want to move. “They wanted to make their own decisions about where and how they might survive the next days and months.”

Hiding

The German news website Stern reports the story from the other side: that of a German couple. Matthias and Julia arrived in Kyiv shortly before the war to be there when their son would be born. When war broke out, their surrogate mother Polina was heavily pregnant, but their son was not yet born. After a few days of hiding in their apartment, they got a Telegram message from Polina, who congratulated them on their parenthood. Whether the new parents have reached their home in Germany yet, is not known.

Several other parents, however, are stranded in Kyiv. This reports the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Among them are Italian couples. “I have ten couples with as many newborns”, said lawyer Giorgio Muccio on Thursday. Muccio assists one of the families in the embassy. “At the beginning, there were problems with the documents. Then, given the worsening of the situation, these were overcome in the child's interest. The two parents were welcomed in the diplomatic headquarters and are currently trying to repatriate.”

Child trafficking

While BioTexCom urges parents-to-be to keep calm, they also acknowledge that they should not try to get surrogate mothers out of the country. In a Facebook post, the German part of the company warns that surrogate babies born outside Ukraine cause legal problems. “The surrogate mother will be considered the mother, and attempting to deliver the child is called child trafficking; you will never be recognised as the child’s parents.”

For American would-be parents, surrogacy in Ukraine is cheaper than in their home country. In Ukraine, it costs between $30,000 and $50,000, while in the US, it is more than $100,000. This reports India Today. There are certain conditions that would-be parents must follow – they must be heterosexual, married and provide a medical reason for opting for surrogacy.

Pile-up

It is not the first time there have been concerns about surrogacy in Ukraine. Earlier, in the height of the pandemic in 2020, travel restrictions caused a baby pile-up in the eastern European country. Until 2015, wealthy couples pursuing surrogacy had a glut of clinics to choose from in Thailand, Nepal or India. But as allegations of exploitation mounted, they closed their doors to foreigners one by one. Business in Ukraine and Georgia –some of the few places in the world that still allow commercial surrogacy for foreign nationals– has been booming ever since.

The ‘baby industry’ is still controversial in Ukraine. At the beginning of February, the Council of Churches in Ukraine criticised the surrogacy activities. The Ukrainian news website Religion reports that the Archpriest of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Oleksa Petrov, stressed that the parliament should seriously consider whether it is expedient to cover this, according to him, immoral, shameful activity, which is essentially trafficking in Ukrainian children and sexual exploitation of women.

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Testimonials

We have been very satisfied, I have been comfortable at the clinic and with my doctor. I was heard. I could ask any questions. I like you have hu-mor, despite the circumstances. Great clinic. Your service has been very good. You have been a huge support and very spacious. You have been available 24 hours a day. You have the answer to all the questions we have been asked. You have accommodated our nervousness, you have rejoiced with us, you have been there throughout. I could not have wished ...
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A and S
The communication with surrogate is easy and better than what we expected. The updates are provided as scheduled with occasional surprises
S
The support was great. It was easy on us that the coordination was done by the delivering dreams team while being completely transparent with us on the progress. The communication with the delivering dreams team was always fast, responsive, and easy.
E and K
Thank you kate. You have been great today and all the other days ❤ you are a great team. We are very satisfied and happy for your help.
Sonny
We were confident before in our choice, but this experience has confirmed beyond any doubt that we choose the best agency.
Doyles
I loved working with Susan and her team and highly recommend them to anyone considering her services. She's is great at every aspect of a process and knows how to handle delicate matters.
Diana Lyakhovetska
Susan truly understands the needs of parents using surrogacy, and offers comprehensive emotional support to parents as they experience the journey!
Christine Hughes Pontier
The team at Delivering Dreams is amazing! Their attention to detail and ability to put your mind at ease while growing your family is like none other. They handled everything for us, and I never once doubted they would help us accomplish our dreams.
Margaret Jones
I’ve known Susan for several years now, and I’ve always been impressed by her attention to her clients’ needs. I’ve known her to work ardently and diligently to solve whatever challenges, no matter how unique, that prevent her clients from completing their families. She is a problem-solver, and she earnestly believes in providing the best options and in making surrogacy opportunities realities: this is not merely a business for Susan. She will help customize the process for your needs and to ...
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Mary Woods
Susan has a keen sense of business and goes to the max to solve her clients’ problems. She is super knowledgeable on business, laws and how things work in surrogacy in general, and specifically on Ukrainian surrogacy. She is an advocate for transparency in a market that’s often opaque and full of hidden risks. I really enjoyed working with Susan. She really pays attention to detail and was always looking out for my best interest above all. Highly recommend!
Laurie Tham
Delivering Dreams goes above and beyond what other surrogacy agencies offer. After speaking with Susan, I see how they anticipate every part of the process, down to details that I had never even considered. I didn’t know what I didn’t know! Surrogacy can be really complicated and confusing. What an amazing sense of relief to have a company so dedicated to managing the WHOLE process and taking away as much of the stress as possible.
Kate Varness
I have gotten to know Susan through a group where we are members. I have found her to be a genuine and caring person. Her consideration for others and love of her work with Ukrainian surrogates and parents-to-be are evident in all her decision making. She is passionate about being a force for the greater good and helping where she can. I have been amazed at the way she is able to smoothly navigate the complicated maze of requirements in the surrogacy process. I am happy to give her my highest...
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Rose Anne Barbour Huck
Susan Kibler is kind.  She clearly loves those she works with and loves what she does.  Susan listens deeply and compassionately and can make you laugh all in the space of one conversation.  She is wonderful!  If you are feeling worried, she'll hear you.  If you have questions, she will find answers for you. If you need help, she does her very best to support you.  I feel so fortunate to have found her and imagine you will too.
Frances Russell
Susan has the ability to really connect on a personal level quickly.  I have found her easy to talk to and have been so grateful for her guidance.  She is one of those people who offers so much to her clients.  She sees the big picture and has a heart for the most intimate concerns.  She is highly skilled and able to manage what can certainly be challenging and uncomfortable experiences, making them feel easier.  She will take charge at the perfect times and guide you when you really need her...
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Susan Seare
The international surrogacy world is complicated. Susan Kibler knows its ins-and-outs. She knows the people and outfits you can trust and the ones to avoid. She insists on the best for her clients and handles the details so they don't have to worry about them. If you want to take the international surrogacy journey, you can trust Delivering Dreams International Surrogacy Agency to guide you on that path.
Nancy Linnerooth
My friend and I had a positive experience working with Susan. Susan is always super responsive and caring. She is very professional, helpful and reliable. My friend has soo much troubles trying having a baby for many years. My friend and her husband were about to give up their dream of having a baby. Susan Kersch Kibler found the way to help. She has unlimited energy, attentive to detail and super efficient. Great to work with!
Polina Clend
Susan is passionate about helping people become families. She is a trustworthy confidant to have on your side.
Kristen Ancker
Our experience with Delivering Dreams has been overwhelmingly positive. The team seems to be genuinely dedicated to helping us to realize our dream of having a child. The constant communication leading up to the trip and the numerous touch points made us feel comforted in what has been a very challenging and uncomfortable situation. We always had streamlined communication through the group chat and was frequently checked on during our stay.
Marilyn

Under Ukrainian law, surrogacy is a legal affordable option for traditionally married couples to have children using their own embryos, or with either an egg or sperm donor. There must be a medical reason you can’t carry a child. You are also able to participate if you have had 4 unsuccessful IVF attempts.

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Under Ukrainian law, surrogacy is a legal affordable option for traditionally married couples to have children using their own embryos, or with either an egg or sperm donor. There must be a medical reason you can’t carry a child. You are also able to participate if you have had 4 unsuccessful IVF attempts.

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