In a bunker in Kyiv, nurses watch over surrogacy babies

An impromptu kindergarten has been set up in the basement of a cream-colored building in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. In this windowless two-room apartment, prams and prams are lined up behind an iron door. According to Biotexcom, the main surrogacy agency in Ukraine, 50 children have been born to a surrogate mother since the war began more than a month ago, and 450 surrogate mothers are yet to give birth.

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Six nurses, including Svetlana, watch over the 21 babies born in this bunker. Gestational Surrogacy (GPA). “Once we understood that the war was real, we prepared this shelter and brought the children inside.” We had taken the maximum of things we needed. Then, when the explosions subsided, we brought strollers, beds, strollers. We made the place cozier. We work 24 hours a day. We’re not giving up on these babies.”she promises.

Six nurses take care of babies born through surrogacy at this day care center in the basement of a building in Kyiv, Ukraine.  (GILLES GALLINARO / RADIO FRANCE)

The youngest of the babies is four days old, the oldest six months. The surrogate mothers have signed the handover certificate, but not all the intended parents have been able to come yet. Child recovery has been turned upside down first by the Covid-19 pandemic and now by the war in Ukraine.

Igor PetrovichChief Physician of Biotexcom, the main surrogacy agency in Ukraine, organizes almost an exfiltration operation when the parents come to the country or the border.

“I take a gun. I take the baby in my arms. We set off in a convoy in a car. We meet the parents, we give the baby, the documents, we shake hands. And we leave.”

Igor Petrovich, Biotexcom’s Chief Medical Officer

at franceinfo

“In this situation, the parents are shocked. They make big eyes. Between these howling sirens and their baby.”‘ says the doctor. The intended parents are French, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Canadian… Most of the French were able to pick up their child despite the war. Mathilde’s intended daughter (alias) was born on March 13 about a hundred kilometers from Kyiv. She met him the next day. “We were very concerned. I risked my life, my husband too. But we couldn’t leave our baby behind in this context of war. We arrived at the hospital, they put it in our arms. And we were distributed.”she explains to franceinfo.

On the other hand, Mathilde’s baby had only one passport to enter France: Ukraine could not issue a birth certificate. Your daughter therefore has no official identity, no social security. Several families are in France in this case. Maître Catherine Clavin, an attorney specializing in parentage law, has launched a dozen cases since the beginning of the war to establish the identity of these babies born through surrogacy. “We only have to go to the court of the parents’ place of residence to apply for a judgment that compensates for the lack of a birth certificate, thereby declaring the civil status of this child.”

Meanwhile, the babies are inside kindergarten have a fictitious, temporary identity. Sticky notes, purple for the girls and blue for the boys, stick on their cribs. The nurses wrote the surname of the surrogate on it. “because the child has no papers yet. We give him a first name ourselves. We choose Ukrainian first names like Igor Petrovich, who is a kid just picked up by his parents, or Nicolai Igorevich.” explains Svetlana.

On Post-its, the nurses wrote down the names they gave these babies born to surrogate mothers in wartime Ukraine while they waited for their parents to pick them up.  (GILLES GALLINARO / RADIO FRANCE)

In addition to these children who are far from their parents, there is also the situation of surrogate mothers. According to Biotexcom, 450 are yet to be born. Sonia and Samuel Vacher are eagerly awaiting the birth of a baby girl in early June. From France, the couple received a message from the surrogate mother. She lives in the occupied zone, in the territory of Kharkiv, in the east of the country. “She felt safe at home. Then one day she said to us: ‘The Russians are in my town’. Then it was: ‘It’s bombing us’now It’s too dangerous because a car tried to get out of town, they shot at it, they all died“.

“What can happen to our surrogate mother, her family, our child?”

Samuel Vacher

at franceinfo

The couple has several fears: “Will she be able to evacuate to a safer area? If not, how is she going to give birth when there are no more hospitals in her town, no more doctors? How can we get our child back? “, asks Samuel Vacher.

The Kiev kindergarten is not an isolated case. There are about ten surrogacy agencies in Ukraine. It was an important activity before the war because it is one of the few countries that offers surrogacy for foreigners. The procedure costs around 50,000 euros.

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