Over the last few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of families seeking surrogacy to help build their families. Although a legal practice in Ukraine since 1997 we are often faced with many misconceptions and questions when people don’t fully understand how it works. Here are some of the most common ones that unfortunately still exist when people think about surrogacy:
This couldn’t be further from the reality. Surrogacy is not a decision which is made lightly and is usually the only way some couples are able to create families. Surrogacy journeys can be a long and often very emotional process and not the way anyone would have envisioned creating their families. In Ukraine the Ministry of Health has established that only those with a medical condition incompatible with pregnancy are permitted to engage in surrogacy processes so Surrogacy is not simply ‘an option’ it’s often the only option.
As long as a surrogacy programme adheres to a legal framework and enforces contracts which protect the interests of both surrogates and parents, then there is no reason for anyone to be exploited. This is probably the most debated topic with regards to surrogacy but one which only seems to come into question when we discuss countries like Ukraine and not the USA.
In both these countries, commercial gestational surrogacy is a common practice in which the surrogate receives a financial compensation. In the USA this is much higher than in Ukraine, where average salaries are lower, but it doesn’t mean that women here are less capable of making their own choices.
We spend a lot of time talking to surrogates to ensure that they understand the implications of a surrogacy programme and have the support of people close to them. Most women who seek out a surrogacy programme are headstrong and responsible, with clear goals for their future and the financial compensation gained through a surrogacy programme will enable them to fulfill these plans.
This is one of the reasons we believe that direct contact between parents and surrogates is fundamental – agencies should be there only to assist and support this relationship. Furthermore, ensuring direct and regular payments to your surrogate ensures that she is really the one receiving the money.
Traditional surrogacy and Gestational surrogacy (the latter made possible by IVF) are two completely different things. Traditional surrogacy is when the baby is conceived using the eggs of the surrogate and whilst these agreements do exist, defining parentage is a little more complicated.
In Gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological link to the baby she carries and the baby is either conceived by the Intended Mother’s eggs or thanks to an egg donor.
In Ukraine only Gestational surrogacy programmes are regulated by law.
It’s true that commercial surrogacy programmes award financial compensation to surrogates and this is a big incentive, but it’s not the only one.
In Ukraine, all Surrogates are mothers themselves and want to help others achieve parenthood. Some enjoy being pregnant. Some have friends or family members affected by infertility.
It’s never just about the financial reward.
Surrogacy contacts were initially drawn up to protect both parents and surrogates from complicated entanglements. In Ukraine, parentage is determined from the moment of conception and the Child Carrying Contract serves as proof that the Intended Parents are the legal parents under Ukrainian law.
The Gestational Carrier is never biologically related to the baby she carries and never has any rights over the child and she is made aware of the law before she starts a programme so there is never any worry that she will decide to keep the baby.
The law aside, having spoken to many surrogates from Ukraine and further afield, they never contemplate the baby as their own. They have completed their own families and are ready to help others to achieve the same. Becoming a surrogate is a huge consideration and like parents starting a programme, is a decision which is not taken lightly.
Most surrogates are more concerned about the parents not taking custody of the baby – which if we look at statistics, is alarmingly more common than the other way around.
It’s not just celebrities who are having babies through surrogacy. You would be surprised by the number of people who have either directly or indirectly come into contact with Surrogacy. Over the last 10 years it has become more commonplace, accepted and affordable – with destinations like Ukraine and Mexico helping to make this possible.
There is no question that surrogacy can be an expensive process for Intended Parents but there are increasingly more options and ways to make payments more manageable. Unless you feel you really need it, steer clear of overpriced all inclusive programmes and focus on the services you need to make your programme a success.
With the astounding leaps in technology, it’s hard to believe that in 2020 surrogacy is still illegal in many countries, but this doesn’t mean that surrogacy isn’t legal for you.
All it takes is a little research to understand the options which are available for your family.
Surrogate pregnancies have the same possibility as any pregnancy to experience complications.
No one can guarantee a healthy pregnancy but the strict guidelines and observation throughout a surrogate pregnancy aim to minimise those risks as much as possible.
All surrogates in Ukraine must have had a healthy pregnancy and birth with no complications prior to being accepted into a programme and each month undergo a long list of tests.
As for multiple babies, the decision of how many embryos to implant at one time is taken by the parents and discussed with the surrogate. If both parties and the doctor agree, a maximum of 2 may be transferred. Statistically this increases the possibility that both embryos will implant resulting in a twin pregnancy and a naturally riskier pregnancy and birth.
This is a common worry for most prospective parents who go through this process but there is no evidence to suggest this. There is no distinction between parents who had children naturally, those who used donors and those who adopted, the bond you create with your children is done so through nurturing and loving them unconditionally, not by who carried them.
Even though you don’t experience the pregnancy first hand, surrogacy is a partnership with your surrogate and there is no reason why you cannot create a strong bond with her and attend important milestone scans. Most surrogates are open to fulfilling special requests like playing the IPs favourite music to their bumps or sending photos and updates.
We always encourage couples to visit Ukraine and their surrogate during pregnancy when possible to share these special moments with the woman who will change their life.