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fears Some Irish parents remain in Ukraine to await births of children through surrogacy as Russians close in

Four other families have managed to make it out of the state

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A woman crosses a checkpoint from the territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists to the territory controlled by Ukrainian forces in Novotroitske, eastern Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

A woman crosses a checkpoint from the territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists to the territory controlled by Ukrainian forces in Novotroitske, eastern Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

A woman crosses a checkpoint from the territory controlled by Russia-backed separatists to the territory controlled by Ukrainian forces in Novotroitske, eastern Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Four families home from Ukraine with babies born through surrogacy but a small number of Irish parents are in Ukraine awaiting births as troops have moved in.

Four couples have flown home from Ukraine with babies born through surrogacy in recent days but there are still a small number of Irish couples in the country awaiting the imminent birth of their children.

Sara Byrne, from the Irish Families Through Surrogacy Organisation, said they are in close contact with the expectant parents in the under-threat nation who have reported calm conditions to date.

The Irish mother, whose baby daughter was born through surrogacy in Ukraine in 2019, said Irish couples are at different stages of their surrogacy journey.

“A number of babies were born last week and there are a number of babies due in the coming weeks.

“Obviously, pregnancy is stressful towards the end stages, and then there is the surrogacy aspect. I know myself you are so anxious that everything will go OK and then this situation adds another layer of anxiety.

“It’s a hugely distressing time but there has been a great support team around the couples between ourselves, Senator Mary Seery-Kearney, and the Department of Foreign Affairs officials and the legal professionals.

“We’re all in contact daily and monitoring the situation and supporting couples. They don't feel alone."

In recent days, she said normal life had been continuing in most of Ukraine.

She said the IFTS is hugely grateful to the Department of Foreign Affairs for their round-the-clock work in ensuring the safety of families and their newborns in Ukraine and expediting their exit process.

“There have been so many people involved, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy, the government officials, and the legal profession in Ireland and Ukraine in making sure everything is done correctly in getting the emergency travel documents for the families.

“Four couples with their babies are home in the last couple of days. I remember myself when the plane landed on Irish soil you do have that breath of relief that you are home.

“I can’t imagine the relief they felt when they landed home with their little babies.”

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The process of getting emergency documents can normally take two to three weeks but it has been accelerated down to around a week.

“Every couple is in a different situation, they could be in Kyiv or Lviv”, said Ms. Byrne "There are different clinics in different regions.”

Clinics in Kyiv have been giving the option to Ukrainian surrogates to move their care to clinics in Lviv, which is a city very close to the Polish border.

There is a view that Kyiv is more likely to be affected by the Russian troop movements than Lviv which is near the Polish border but couples will want the children to be born in Ukraine as the country has strong surrogacy legislation.

Sara, whose baby, Alice, was born through surrogacy in the country in 2019, said her thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine.

“Our thoughts are with our own surrogate mothers of children that have been born, they are part of our families.

“And obviously the surrogate mothers of the children who have just been born, that they’ll get home to their families, which is so important."

Although the escalating situation is changing daily, she believes Irish parents will continue to do their utmost to get to Ukraine in the near future.

“At the end of the day, their children are going to be born there, I couldn’t foresee a situation where they wouldn’t try everything to get there. Obviously, they are monitoring the situation.

“Ryanair and a number of airlines were still flying in and out so long may that continue. They were very helpful with the situation.

“But I know some of the clinics are setting up a nanny system, they are setting up contingency plans just in case there is an issue where the parents can’t get in but hopefully those contingency plans won’t have to be used.”

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs pulled out all the stops to get children born through surrogacy in Ukraine back to Ireland during the pandemic.

“Irish parents all got to their babies. They are fantastic. They just understand the humanity of it."

And it has been replicated in the current situation in the Eastern European country.

"We are so reassured by how supportive the Department of Foreign Affairs has been. They are literally working through the night."

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