Russian invasion forces surrogacy agencies to abandon Ukraine putting baby plans on hold

Agency popular with Irish people has had no requests from Ireland since war began

Liudmila (32), from near Kyiv, is due to give birth to a baby for an Irish couple in September

Ellen Coyne

Surrogacy agencies in Ukraine are relocating to countries such as Cyprus and Georgia as they brace for the “long-lasting effect” of war making the country unattractive to hopeful parents.

World Centre of Baby, a Ukrainian surrogacy agency that is popular with Irish couples, said it closed its agency in Kyiv on the first day of the war and had no plans to resume surrogacy programmes in Ukraine while it continued.

Olga Pysana, a partner at World Centre of Baby, said the agency had relocated to Cyprus and Georgia because it could not guarantee the safety of surrogates or babies in Ukraine and “the responsibility is too big”.

“We understand that there’s this long-lasting effect of the war, and unfortunately, that will make Ukraine not an attractive destination for intended parents to travel to, to engage in surrogacy,” Ms Pysana said.

“We do not think there will be interest in international surrogacy in Ukraine in the near future.

“Even if the war is over by tomorrow, having now had this terrible experience of unexpected invasion, we do not have a 100pc guarantee that even if a peace agreement is signed or Russian troops are kicked out from Ukraine, that the same won’t happen in a year’s time or in six months’ time.”

World Centre of Baby said it had to move quickly to evacuate surrogates living in occupied areas to safety as soon as the war broke out.

Women in Ukraine cannot be surrogates unless they already have at least one biological child, so each surrogate had a family with her.

In one case, a surrogate in Mariupol who was 25 weeks’ pregnant with a Spanish couple’s baby went missing for more than a week before it emerged she had been forcibly evacuated to Russia.

The woman and her children were rescued and taken to Georgia.

Ms Pysana, who spoke to the Irish Independent days after a surrogate gave birth to twins for an Irish couple, said since the war began her agency had not had a single request from an Irish couple to start a surrogacy programme in Ukraine.

She said Ukraine, which was the second-largest destination for international surrogacy after the US, was unlikely to continue holding that title.

Liudmila is a 32-year-old surrogate who is due to give birth to a baby for an Irish couple through World Centre of Baby in September.

The couple have not yet announced the pregnancy to their friends and family.

Speaking to the Irish Independent from Poland through an interpreter, Liudmila said she decided to become a surrogate because she wanted to buy a house.

A single mother of two, she said she was spending too much of her wages as a cook on her rent, and her eldest daughter would be going to university shortly which would be expensive.

World Centre of Baby’s contracts pay all surrogates the same, around €18,700. Ms Pysana said that with this amount of money someone would be able to buy a home in one of the smaller Ukrainian towns.

“My plan is to come back to Ukraine – obviously it is not clear when or how – and build my own house,” Liudmila said.

She is from Boryspil, a town in the Kyiv region, which was bombed heavily in the first days of the war.

Liudmila, who was around 12 weeks’ pregnant, spent a fortnight in a bomb shelter with her daughters before being evacuated to Warsaw.

Initially, she and her family lived in a Polish hotel. The post-traumatic stress of the conflict made her mistake the sound of the elevator for shelling.

The surrogacy contracts that Liudmila and the Irish couple signed will not apply in Poland, so when she reaches the third trimester Liudmila and the intending parents will decide whether she will go to Lviv or the Czech Republic to give birth.

The Irish couple recently travelled to Poland to visit her.

“Words can’t describe the emotions when this meeting took place,” Liudmila said.

“They were so happy and so grateful. I’m doing something amazing for them, and they’re helping me. And in this current situation, this help is essential.

“I feel happy about the fact that this baby is going to Ireland, to be with her own biological parents who will love this baby and who have been longing for this baby for all of their life.”

Liudmila’s due date falls on her own birthday, September 14. The Irish couple are planning to fly over that week to celebrate her birthday with her.

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