My feed

to access all these features

Join to connect with others in similar situations and discuss legal processes, costs, well-being, and types of surrogacy.


Considering surrogacy

24 replies

Alexandre3 · 25/04/2021 09:27

Hello everyone,

My wife and I are considering surrogacy. We thought about doing i in Ukraine. My wife in Polish, I am French, and we live in France.

I found many agencies on the internet, but I don't know which one are reliable.

We heard on the BBC about "Ilaya" in Ukraine. Would it be possible to have feedback about that agency?

Many thanks

OP posts:
IamSparcatus · 25/04/2021 10:49

I assume you are aware that surrogacy is illegal in France.
You might be better advised to spend time investigating how you will bring any baby back to France and get legal parental status and citizenship for the baby than searching out other jurisdictions in which you can circumvent the laws of your country.

FannyCann · 25/04/2021 12:17

This is just one of many articles about surrogacy in Ukraine. Sad to say McMafia has branched out into the maternity business, selling and trafficking babies.

Even aside of the moral objections of employing an impoverished Ukrainian woman to gestate a baby for you, I wouldn't trust them to use my own gametes and give me a baby related to me.

"He says other investigations involved allegations of fraud and even a human trafficking inquiry in 2016, after an Italian couple discovered in 2011 that the children they had taken home were not genetically related to them. Kovalchuk was removed from his post last year and believes the investigations into BioTexCom have stalled as a result. He wrote to the ombudsman’s office in May outlining his concerns about the clinic......

At Hotel Venice, Albert Tochilovsky, the owner of BioTexCom, does not deny there were mix-ups with embryos during surrogacy procedures in 2011 that led to the human trafficking investigation.

He blames the error on a lack of experience when the clinic was only a year old, and says: “I don’t think it was only us who used to make mistakes here. If someone starts checking DNA, there will be a lot of scandals.”

FannyCann · 25/04/2021 12:55

More about surrogacy in Ukraine here.
I urge you to consider the wider issues and not contribute to this exploitation and abuse of impoverished women in a country where there are no protections of their rights or consideration of their safety.

FannyCann · 25/04/2021 12:57

There is also the issue of the healthcare available to any baby that is born, especially if it is born prematurely or with other health problems.

OhHolyJesus · 26/04/2021 16:13

Hi OP, because this is relevant to both France and the Ukraine I though I'd share this in full, my bolds.

and this

At 37 weeks pregnant, Arina* doesn’t leave her Kiev apartment often. The pandemic ricocheting around the globe means the 28-year-old surrogate can't ride the now-closed subway or tram to the city center. To pass the time, she sticks to a daily routine of morning calisthenics, porridge, and TV in the three-bedroom apartment she shares with two other surrogates. Stranded on the 25th floor, in a white wallpapered apartment, facing another row of grey apartments, Arina leaves only to take short walks through the neighborhood or to sneak in an occasional ice cream run to the local supermarket.
The Ukrainian mother of two hasn’t seen her own children since early March. Two months ahead of her due date, Lotus, the Israel-registered surrogacy company that matched Arina with a foreign couple, wanted her to see their appointed doctor and to monitor the second-time surrogate’s baby closely. Just as the coronavirus seeped across Europe, Arina left her 4-year-old and 7-year-old daughters at home with her partner in Melitopol, 400 miles southeast of the capital, and took a 12-hour overnight train to the Pozniaky neighborhood on the Dnieper River. She writes fairy tales for her girls, though she doesn’t speak to them often. It makes all of them sad to be so far apart for such an uncertain amount of time. Now in the last days of her pregnancy, she feels trapped, confined to the small world of her apartment. She doesn’t have the energy to make up happy endings.
"I want to feel some positive emotions but there are none,” she says.
While statistics aren’t official, it’s estimated that in 2019, hundreds of babies were born in Ukraine each month through large surrogacy agencies, according to a representative from the Medical and Reproductive Law Center in Kiev. This year, as the country enters a third month of COVID-19-related restrictions and remains locked down, there are likely, again, hundreds of babies being born to surrogates. Parents from France, Australia, China, Spain, the United States, and Israel are trying to get to Ukraine or are stranded in the country with their newborn
Since countries across Asia banned surrogacy in 2015, citing exploitation of the system by foreign couples and abuse by agencies, Ukraine’s industry has thrived. Most European Union countries ban commercial surrogacy, though legislation and reasoning vary by country. In Germany and France, for example, surrogacy is seen as disregarding the dignity of women.
But surrogacy has become popular in Ukraine—both for foreign women who want children of their own at a lower cost than in the United States and for local women who are drawn to the work by promises of payments more than three times Ukraine’s average salary. Arina made around $300 a month as a taxi caller and by selling clothes online; once the baby is born, she will receive a $15,000 payment from the parents, an amount of money she needs to support her family now more than ever. Since the start of coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders, more than a million Ukrainians have lost their jobs, according to the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The money will allow her to buy a home for her family and find a sense of economic stability.

Twelve days after Arina made the temporary move to Kiev, Ukraine closed its borders to foreigners. The baby’s French mother isn’t sure she will make it to meet her child when he enters the world this month. Lotus, the surrogacy agency Arina works with, did not respond to repeated requests for comment about the procedures in place for babies whose parents won’t be able to meet them at birth.
However, another Ukraine-based surrogacy agency BioTexCom, one of the largest in the country, connected Marie Claire with nannies currently taking care of 62 babies (and counting) at the Hotel Venice on the outskirts of Kiev. BioTexCom has owned and operated the hotel since 2016. There, BioTexCom–employed nannies like Olha Kuts watch over parents and babies, teaching families how to bathe, feed, and change their newborns. Before the pandemic, parents would spend time with their newborns at the hotel, sometimes leaving them with nannies for short breaks. Now, under new company protocols input as the coronavirus spread to Ukraine, Kuts’s job has taken on an exhausting, new dimension. She doesn’t leave the hotel, eating and sleeping there between long hours spent minding babies whose parents are countries away.
A promotional photo posted on BioTexCom’s website. The Ukrainian surrogacy agency has, by its own admission, been accused of trafficking in the past.
“Babies are here around the clock,” says Kuts, 34, part of a team of nurses watching more than two dozen children born to parents from France, Germany, China, Spain, and Romania, among other countries. When the nannies do get time off, they are fully isolated from the outside world. After overnight shifts, Kuts, who has worked with the company for two-and-a-half years, is granted a three-hour nap. Then, she must return to work. There’s too much work to be done, her manager tells her. It was unclear if she was being monitored by a company agent as she spoke with Marie Claire.
The company posted promotional pictures to its website, even advertising that they have reduced the fee for child care from 50 Euros to 25. In one photo, seven nurses pose behind 14 clear, plastic cribs lined up in three rows with babies wrapped in lime green, blue, and pink blankets. In another, a happy-looking nurse poses for the camera, holding a pair babies in her arms. In each picture, the nurses wear light blue masks and dark blue gloves.
Sophie Parkinson, the 30-year-old mother to the baby Arina carries, has, like many intended parents, been searching the web for any information on what happens to babies born via surrogate during this lockdown. She found the photos BioTexCom has put out but can’t bear to look at them. She’s heard there’s a video, too, of nannies cradling newborns, cooing to them to sleep. Parkinson had come to terms with her own infertility after years of trying to have a baby. She was just weeks away from holding her own.
“To see newborn babies waiting in cribs for their parents to pick them up because they are not here was too hard. I don’t want to look at that,” she says via phone from Cormeilles, a small town in Normandy.

She flew from Brisbane, Australia, to France, where she has family, trying to get to Kiev in time. But everything happened too quickly: Ukraine closed its borders. Her days are filled with phone calls, texts, and emails, strategizing ways to make it to Ukraine in time for the birth. “I am trying to reach out to French embassies, the Ukrainian embassy in France, the French government, other French intended parents, so that we can build a case, and find out what we have to do. So that we can get authorized to get to Kiev,” she says.
In the time of coronavirus, dozens of families are in the same predicament, says fertility lawyer Natalie Gamble at NGA Law. As coronavirus began to spread, she told Marie Claire: “In a few weeks there might be children born whose parents won’t be able to get to Ukraine because of the travel restrictions.”
Arina has been staying in touch with Parkinson, telling her she needs help, that she needs help giving birth and can’t do it alone. The two women text daily via Viber. Lotus allows contact between surrogates and parents, though many agencies do not. “Everybody is very scared. The uncertainty is very hard for our emotional state,” says Parkinson. “We are trying to avoid the baby to be looked after by a nanny for a few weeks or months.”
Though BioTexCom paints a rosy picture, many surrogacy agencies have dubious reputations in the country, says Sergii Antonov, the director and founder of the Center for Medical and Reproductive Law Center in Kiev. While a number of agencies do operate under fair conditions for both mothers and surrogates, some, like BioTexCom, for example, are involved in a number of scandals, he adds. It is one of the most notorious surrogacy agencies. In an interview posted to BioTexCom’s website, the owner, Albert Tochilovsky, even admitted that he has been “accused of trafficking thousands of Ukrainian babies abroad.” (Tochilovsky says “the children have a genetic kinship with their foreign parents.”)
“There isn’t that kind of external regulation to make sure that things are being done properly,” exacerbating an already rickety process in times of uncertainty, like a global pandemic, suggests Gamble. Additionally, there are no Ukrainian laws protecting the rights of a surrogate, Antonov says, only the contract. “The contracts do not always ensure the balance of interests of all participants,” he says.
Like Arina, Olena, who would not provide her last name, came to Kiev two months before her due date, as recommended by BioTexCom. She gave birth in March. As of our interview in April, the Spanish couple she carried the baby for have not been able to meet their child. With the parents’ arrival uncertain, a nanny with BioTexCom has been taking care of the baby.
When we last spoke with Olena, she had not yet been paid. The 34-year-old has chosen to stay in Kiev, more than a hundred miles from her family, paying for an apartment out of her own pocket, waiting for her payment and to sign documents to signal the end of the process. Olena, connected to Marie Claire through BioTexCom, did not voice any worries about when she might receive payment, saying, "I completely trust the clinic, and if they said it will be this way, it will be this way.”

Sophie Parkinson and her husband are the intended parents of the child Arina is carrying. Parkinson is scared she will not be able to get to Ukraine in time for the birth.
Another Spanish couple, Gema García, 45, and José Antonio Sánchez, 39, made it into Ukraine for their child’s birth a week before the borders closed.
Garcia tried for seven years to get pregnant, once giving birth prematurely at 20 weeks to a baby who did not survive. Adoption is complicated, her partner adds in; surrogacy seemed the best option. They began the process in 2018 with a company called SurroBaby. Neither one could have imagined that two years later, they would be sitting in a rented apartment in Kiev with a new baby, afraid to leave their temporary home.
“We are in a foreign country, we don’t speak the language,” says Garcia. “This is a worldwide health crisis. We cannot leave the home here in Kiev. We are afraid that something will happen to us or to our daughter.”
Recent changes to surrogacy laws in Spain have made the process even more challenging. Parents must obtain Ukrainian citizenship for newborns before returning to Spain, says Sanchez. As he spoke, he turned the phone camera to show a baby girl sleeping in her crib next to him.
Two months after their daughter’s birth, after they were told passport service centers were working in a limited mode and that the new parents would not be able to obtain a passport for their child, the couple finally received the document and returned to Spain in early May. “We [were] counting the seconds until we [could] go home with our daughter,” the relieved father says.
Only a few weeks before Arina’s due date, the surrogate worries how pandemic protocols will impact her birth plan and what comes next. During her last pregnancy, the hardest part of her final weeks was the challenge of rolling out of bed with her expanding belly. With this pregnancy, coronavirus has left her in a constant state of distress but not all of it is for herself.
“I don’t want him to stay in the maternity clinic alone for a long time,” Arina says. After all, she’s only human, she adds. “I worry about the baby because it’s not his fault.”
*Name has been changed to protect subject's privacy.
Daniela Prugger and Oksana Parafeniuk are contributing reporters based in Kiev, Ukraine, with The Fuller Project, a nonprofit journalism organization that reports on global issues impacting women. Khushbu Shah also contributed to this piece.

HermioneWeasley · 26/04/2021 16:16

Horrifying- you’re planning to use a (at best) vulnerable woman as an incubator and you think that’s ok? Look into the women’s rights issues around surrogacy.

Alexandre3 · 26/04/2021 16:26

Thank you everyone for this information... After that we will certainly NOT be looking for a surrogate mother from an agency in Ukraine...

OP posts:
OhHolyJesus · 26/04/2021 16:57

I'm pleased OP as the agencies do not share the full story with you, in fact I would be wary of any agency as they will be interested in how much they can profit from you and you will always have the international and travel elements to consider.

(I make no secret of being strongly against surrogacy as I think it is exploitative and centres the adults over the child but I realise people do go through the process on an increasingly regular basis.)

I've been looking for a legal case specific to France to help you understand what the restrictions are. If I find it I will come back to share it but as others advise I do suggest you look to the laws in your country if residence as many couples like you have found themselves in stressful legal difficulties regarding entry with a surrogate-born newborn, passports and citizenship.

May I ask why you were thinking about surrogacy in particular? I imagine that you are already aware that surrogacy is also illegal in Poland?

FannyCann · 26/04/2021 22:18

Thank you @Alexandre3

I am delighted that discovering more about the issues has opened your eyes to the reality of the surrogacy trade in Ukraine.
Sadly it is a world wide business these days with other poorer countries coming on board to offer their young women as wombs for hire. Colombia is a new bargain basement destination for instance.
I have great sympathy for the pain of infertility but the answer isn't to exploit another woman and risk her health and welfare.

I have been reading, researching, listening to podcasts and watching documentaries about this for the past three years and there are many resources out there. The more I see and read the more I am persuaded this is a harmful and exploitative business.

It is also worth remembering that most if not all of the agencies and clinics that offer to facilitate this are no more concerned with the welfare of commissioning parents who long for a baby than they are with the welfare of the surrogate mother or of the baby. They just want your money. Go well and go carefully.

2021theyear · 18/05/2021 12:02

Hi, I am not sure if this thread is still active but my husband and I are considering surrogacy in the UK, please can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks!

thecosmicunicorn · 22/05/2021 03:36

I am looking into becoming a surrogate but its very hard for me as I was stupid and got a conviction when I was a teen so no agency will take me on now :(

OhHolyJesus · 22/05/2021 11:40

How does a conviction affect your application to be a surrogate mother @thecosmicunicorn ?

ShamedBySiri · 22/05/2021 16:27

I assume the reputable surrogacy agencies do a DBS check @OhHolyJesus and the conviction will show up.

Why do you want to be a surrogate mother @thecosmicunicorn ? Do you really want to go through IVF treatment, nine months of pregnancy and childbirth for a random stranger for altruistic reasons? Are you aware it is illegal to pay for surrogacy in the UK although you can claim expenses? But if you are on benefits there is a risk they will view the expenses as payment and you could lose your benefits.

And do you understand what the IVF treatment involves? It's not like falling pregnant naturally. Loads of hormone injections which you have to continue with for the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Considering surrogacy
MarkPW · 23/07/2021 22:01

This reply has been deleted

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

MarkPW · 23/07/2021 22:01

This reply has been deleted

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

PurpleDaisies · 23/07/2021 22:03

You don’t want a surrogate who has had a covid vaccine-is that right?

MarkPW · 23/07/2021 22:06

This reply has been deleted

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

PurpleDaisies · 23/07/2021 22:07

You have seen what covid can do to women in pregnancy? Or aren’t you bothered by that since you’re not the ones taking the risk?

PurpleDaisies · 23/07/2021 22:13

My trolldar is clearly off!

MarkPow · 23/07/2021 22:18

This reply has been deleted

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk guidelines.

Hoppinggreen · 23/07/2021 22:21

They keep being deleted because this site is not a place to try and rent a woman’s womb.
Take the hint

PurpleDaisies · 23/07/2021 22:23

I liked the addition of “the surrogate must not have had the covid jab” for a bit of extra controversy.

PearPickingPorky · 23/07/2021 22:29

Surrogacy is so exploitative.

Oleksandraa · 19/06/2023 11:30

This reply has been deleted

This has been deleted by MNHQ for breaking our Talk Guidelines.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.