In Ukraine, surrogacy babies have been held hostage by the war

Ukraine has become a hotspot for surrogacy (surrogacy), which is legal there for foreign couples, in recent years. Dozens of intended babies have been born through surrogacy since the war began, but many of their intended parents remain stranded at the border.

The nurses stay in this shelter 24 hours a day.
The nurses stay in this shelter 24 hours a day © Radio France / Gilles Gallinaro

In the basement of a cream-colored building, behind an iron door, in a windowless two-room apartment, we see strollers, strollers, mattresses on the floor. 21 babies live in this former refectory. “As soon as we understood that war was a reality, we prepared this shelter and placed the children in it“, explains Svetlana, one of the six midwives who look after the babies 24 hours a day. “We took as many things as we needed. Then, as the explosions subsided. We brought strollers, beds, strollers. We made the place cozier. We work 24 hours a day and we won’t give up on these babies“, explains Svetlana, one of the six nannies who look after the babies 24 hours a day.

These babies were born through surrogacy. The youngest is four days old and the oldest six months. The surrogate mothers have signed the handover certificate, but not all the intended parents have been able to come yet. Baby recovery has been turned upside down first by Covid-19, then now by the war.

“I take a gun and the baby in my arms”

When the parents come to the country or the border, it is almost an exfiltration operation organized by Igor Petrovich, Chief Medical Officer of Biotexcom, the main surrogacy agency in Ukraine: “I take a gun I take the baby in my arms. We leave in a convoy in one car. We meet the parents, we give the baby the papers. We shake hands and leave. In this situation, parents are shocked. They widened their eyes between those sirens and their baby“.

In this Noah’s Ark the intended parents are Italians, Spanish, Chinese, Canadians. Most of the French were able to come despite the war. That’s what Mathilde did (it’s an alias). His intended daughter was born on March 13, 120 km 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 him in our arms, then we left.

children without identity

But Mathilde’s baby only had one passport to return to France. Ukraine could not issue a birth certificate. So the child has no identity, no social security. This is not an isolated case in France. Catherine Clavin has instituted a dozen procedures to establish the identity of these children since the war: “Either the French consular authority issued the birth certificate of the child born abroad, but we were told that this was not possible for the French embassy“explains this attorney specializing in parentage law. “So we only have to go to the court of the parents’ domicile to apply for a judgment compensating for the absence of the birth certificate, thus declaring the civil status of that child.“.

The children have given first names written on post-its by the nurses
The children have given first names written on post-its by the nurses © Radio France / Gilles Gallinaro

In the ark of orphaned babies in Kyiv, the children therefore have a fictitious identity. Provisionally. It’s a post-it stuck in the cradles. It’s purple for girls, blue for boys. “The last name of the surrogate is written on these post-its because the child is undocumented. So we give them a first name ourselves. You get Ukrainian names“, says Slvetlana.”Like Igor Petrovich, a child just picked up by his parents. Or Nicolai Igorevich“.

Families worry about pregnant mothers in Ukraine

In addition to these orphan children, there is also the situation of surrogate mothers who are still pregnant. Some situations are dramatic or deeply distressing. For example, Sonia and Samuel Vacher are in France. They are expecting the birth of a baby girl in early June. But the surrogate mother is in the occupied zone, in the Karkhiv sector.

She felt safe at home for a long time“, say the future parents. “_Until the day she told us: ‘The Russians are in my town’. Then it said: ‘_Çbombed. We told him: “You really have to go”. She tells us, “Now it’s too dangerous to leave town because a car tried to leave town, they shot at it, they’re all dead.”“, go on. Her fear: “What can happen to our surrogate mother, her family, our child? Will she eventually be able to be evacuated to a safer area? If not, how is she going to give birth in her town when there are no more hospitals, no more doctors? How do we get our child back?

The company Biotexcom says that 50 children were born during the war. And that 450 surrogate mothers have yet to give birth. There are about ten surrogacy agencies in Ukraine. It was an important activity before the war. The procedure costs around 50,000 euros.

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