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Family dilemma Irish couple face mandatory hotel quarantine with newborn baby born by surrogate in Ukraine

They have expressed their shock and upset after finding out that the country has been added to the mandatory hotel quarantine list by the Department of Health.

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Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman and her husband Mark

Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman and her husband Mark

Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman and her husband Mark

An Irish couple who are trying to get home after pursuing surrogacy abroad are facing mandatory hotel quarantine with their new born baby when they arrive at Dublin Airport on Saturday. 

Sinead Gallagher-Hedderman and her husband Mark are currently in the Ukraine following the birth of their baby boy Theo to a surrogate eight days ago.

They have expressed their shock and upset after finding out that the country has been added to the mandatory hotel quarantine list by the Department of Health.

“I wouldn’t put anybody else through this, that's a fact,” Mark told RTE’s Morning Ireland. “Straight away I started getting uneasy in terms of, you know, the exemptions for quarantine. There are a few there that could potentially mean we will be exempt but there's nothing that's specific or certain. The criteria is not clearly outlined so we're scratching our heads thinking what impact this will have on ourselves.”

“Everything changes,” Sinead added. “like, you’re so in love with him and you just want to protect him and to me putting him into a hotel isn't protecting him, it's the complete opposite.”

Mark pointed out that they have a house in Portmarnock, 10 minutes away from the airport.

“It's perfectly set up for us to get back into our house and self-isolate there like we had done previously when we were here in October,” he said.

“The only person that will see us when we get back to Dublin is Sinead’s mam, she's a director of nursing. She's been vaccinated already and she would bring food to us and drop it off. Nobody else will see us. It's not so much (about) protecting ourselves, it's protecting our son, that's what matters most.”

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Sundayworld.com has requested a comment from the Department of Health. RTE said that when asked, the department had pointed to the list of exemptions on the Gov.ie website.

RTE said that according to the department, if you believe you're not required to undergo quarantine or require to leave quarantine early you may request a review.

Mark and Sinead will have to seek that review from information they get from the defense forces at the hotel.

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However, their solicitor Annette Hickey, who represents many parents who have their children through surrogacy, said this is not in keeping with the wider government regulations.

“Under one of the regulations it says that a person is an exempted traveller, so an exempted traveller, to my mind, is somebody when they're coming into the country know that they have met with the requirements (and) that they are exempted from this requirement.

“So this couple traveling to Ireland with their newborn baby, they would be categorised as an exempted traveller, if the Minister for Foreign Affairs provided them with written confirmation that they have travelled out of the State for urgent humanitarian reasons. There's nothing more urgent than the birth of your child and there's nothing more humanitarian than ensuring that your child has parents with him or her from birth.

“A surrogacy is not a choice it’s a last resort,” she added. “And it’s a long, difficult hard road for a couple being here in Ireland, knowing there's another woman pregnant with your baby in the Ukraine and you're just waiting to get there for the birth of your baby.

“It's a costly process so on all levels it's just unimaginable to think that these babies are going to come into Ireland and are going to be escorted in a bus by the army to some hotel facility for two weeks. I don't think that's the Ireland that any of us would like to say that that's the way we treat or look after infants.”

Sinead added:“It's not just about us, I mean we're probably the first couple to experience this because we're here right now, but I mean there's a number of couples that are probably due to fly out or have just flown out and so it's not just about us. It's the bigger picture, it's for all those couples going through surrogacy in the Ukraine in the coming months that need clarification on this.”

On Friday Mark and Sinead will get emergency travel documents in Ukraine to bring baby Theo home.

“From that point we have three days to leave the Ukraine,” Sinead revealed. “So, I mean, we do not have a choice but to get on flights to come home. We don't have the supplies in a hotel room, like, we’ve no steriliser, and we probably won't have any formula by time we get home because we’ve only brought enough with us for our stay here.”

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