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Rosanna Davison says she 'would do absolutely anything' for surrogate in Ukraine

"You know, I keep thinking, the apartment that she’s sheltering in, it’s where Sophia our daughter grew. That’s the city (where) she developed in the womb"

Rosanna Davison

Rosanna Davison with sisters Caoimhe ui Luing, aged 8, and Fiadh, aged 6, backing 65 Roses Day

Esther McCarthy

Like the rest of us, Rosanna Davison (37) has watched in horror at the unfolding war in Ukraine. But for her, there is a deeply personal connection to the story of a country in crisis.

Her daughter Sophia was born in Ukraine and spent the first precious days of her life there with her parents. It’s a country and a people that Rosanna and husband Wes have come to know and love since they first travelled there to explore the option of surrogacy in 2019.

Thoughts of the surrogate who transformed the couple’s lives are never far from her mind.

“She knows that I’ve offered her our home to live in for as long as it takes. Because she gave birth to our daughter — without her, we wouldn’t have Sophia. So we would do absolutely anything for her,” said Rosanna.

Her surrogate lives in the southern city of Kherson and is currently sheltering with her child, family members and her pet dog. Rosanna has kept in regular contact with her and says like many others, they’re waiting to hear news of safe evacuation corridors.

“You know, I keep thinking, the apartment that she’s sheltering in, it’s where Sophia our daughter grew. That’s the city (where) she developed in the womb before our surrogate then moved to Kyiv, to the hospital there.

"That’s the connection I feel with it. You know, we just really strongly want to help her as much as we can, and whatever way we can.”

Rosanna Davison with sisters Caoimhe ui Luing, aged 8, and Fiadh, aged 6, backing 65 Roses Day

As well as donating to aid organisations, Rosanna has been donating baby supplies and clothing to services near the country’s border for those seeking refuge.

“I think so many of us are desperate to help in whatever way we can. It’s so frustrating not being able to help more. The best I can do at the moment is just to keep in touch with her, check that she’s safe, support her as much as I can.”

The family have stayed in touch with their surrogate ever since Sophia was born and Rosanna receives a message from her every date Sophia turns another month older. They were all set to try for a sibling for the little girl when Rosanna had what she calls “this miracle pregnancy” with twins Hugo and Oscar.

People around the world have witnessed the dignity and courage of the Ukrainian people in recent weeks and Rosanna says her fondness for the people and the capital, Kyiv, developed when she and Wes first went there in 2019 for a three-week period. They returned for several weeks about their baby’s birth later that year.

“We really grew so fond of the city — we walked the length and breadth of it during the time there. We made friends. They have a fantastic gastronomic culture over there — really gorgeous restaurants and cafes, and it’s very European, though it still retains its own culture and its own history. .

“They’re very practical people, very friendly, very hard working. I was going to a country that I didn’t know and a language I wasn’t familiar with to start the surrogacy procedure. And they were just really friendly and encouraging and warm and supportive of the whole journey we were on.

“The surrogacy clinic and agency were side by side and it was female focused, it was run predominantly by women. That warm, friendly personality, I think, has shown itself in the last few weeks — just really hard working, brave, strong people.”

This week Rosanna returns to her role as an ambassador for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland’s major annual fundraiser, 65 Roses Day.

“I got involved because I was struck when I discovered that cystic fibrosis affects a higher percentage of adults in Ireland than anywhere else in Europe,” she explains. “I learned more about the ways in which people’s lives are affected in multiple ways in their everyday life.

“I felt I was in a position to raise awareness to help drive the fundraising campaign every year, which is the 65 Roses Day. I know people, not direct friends or family members, but friends of friends who live with cystic fibrosis, affected in ways that include infertility and day-to-day living.

“It’s been an incredibly difficult and stressful time for those people, so I think this campaign is even more important than ever.”

Life for Rosanna is busier than it’s ever been, with twin boys Oscar and Hugo and her toddler daughter Sophia all starting to show their unique personality traits. “It’s amazing to see their personalities developing and strengthening. Twins always have fascinated me, but because the boys are identical twins, they’ve obviously got shared genetics and they’ve been brought up in the same environment. Yet they are different in terms of personality.

“Hugo you’ll find hiding behind the curtains laughing whereas Oscar’s a bit more of a cuddly mummy’s boy. Then Sophia actually rules the house. She’s the boss! But she’s a sweetheart as well. She adores her brothers. They really entertain each other which is great.”

“Downtime is usually just collapsing on the sofa!” she laughs. “I do try to squeeze in little home workouts here and there, if I can. I do try to stay fit. And most days I walk out with the pushchair and stick my air pods in and listen to a podcast,” adds Rosanna.

  • Please support Cystic Fibrosis Ireland on 65 Roses Day, Friday 8th April, by taking part in a 65 Roses Challenge, donating online at 65Roses.ie or purchasing a purple rose in participating Dunnes Stores and other outlets nationwide

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