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Ukraine’s surrogate babies are cared for in makeshift underground nursery in Kyiv

Yawning, snoozing and cradled by nannies, Ukraine’s surrogate babies are pictured in a makeshift underground nursery in Kyiv as Putin’s missiles rain down above- leaving their biological parents unable to collect them. 

The country is usually a global surrogacy hub where parents from around the world travel to Ukraine before the births to complete relevant paperwork and then take their children home.  

According to estimates, 2,500 to 3,000 children are born in Ukraine every year for clients outside the country, including China, the United States and EU.   

But due to Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine, 19 newborns and their nannies are taking refuge in the Kyiv basement as their anguished biological parents cannot undertake the risky journey. 

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Photographs taken in the Kyiv basement show sleeping babies in cots and mattresses and cushions laid on the floor

A nanny holds a newborn baby in a basement converted into a nursery in Kyiv, Ukraine (pictured)

A nanny holds a newborn baby in a basement converted into a nursery in Kyiv, Ukraine (pictured)

Photographs taken in the basement show sleeping babies in cots and mattresses and cushions laid on the floor.

Nannies are also seen cradling yawning babies and and rocking them while they lie in prams and bouncers. 

One holds a yawning baby on her lap as the group shelter from Putin’s Ukraine siege above them.  

Nannies are also seen cradling yawning babies on their laps and rocking them while they lie in prams and bouncers in the Kyiv basement

 Nannies are also seen cradling yawning babies on their laps and rocking them while they lie in prams and bouncers in the Kyiv basement 

One worker is seen feeding a baby as he sits next to breakfast items and a coffee machine for those sheltering in the Kyiv basement

One worker is seen feeding a baby as he sits next to breakfast items and a coffee machine for those sheltering in the Kyiv basement

One worker is seen feeding a baby as he sits next to breakfast items and a coffee machine for those sheltering in the basement. 

Other babies have their nappies changed while they are cared for in the makeshift nursery.

Bottles are also laid out so that they can be given to the babies as nannies carry the newborns around the basement. 

Nannies are also seen holding babies while tending to others who are sleeping. 

The volunteers are looking after the group of newborn babies around the clock. 

Other babies have their nappies changed while they are cared for in the makeshift nursery

Other babies have their nappies changed while they are cared for in the makeshift nursery

Bottles are also laid out so that they can be given to the babies as nannies carry the newborns around the basement

Bottles are also laid out so that they can be given to the babies as nannies carry the newborns around the basement

In Ukraine, the entire surrogacy process costs the equivalent of £42,000.

The legal situation is also different to Britain, where the surrogate mother is automatically given legal rights. In Ukraine the ‘intended parents’ are the only ones with any legal rights.

Ukraine is one of the rare countries in the world to allow mothers to carry babies for foreigners as a commercial practice. 

Nannies are also seen holding babies while tending to others who are sleeping in the makeshift nursery

Nannies are also seen holding babies while tending to others who are sleeping in the makeshift nursery

The coronavirus pandemic put a spotlight on this growing business sector in Ukraine.

A large clinic in Kyiv aired a video of dozens of babies born from surrogate mothers and whose parents could not come to pick them up because the borders had been closed. 

A charity which helps couples seeking surrogacy called Growing Families has been contacted by more than 100 from 12 countries seeking assistance as the war continues. 

The volunteers are looking after the group of newborn babies around the clock as their parents cannot collect them

The volunteers are looking after the group of newborn babies around the clock as their parents cannot collect them

Nannies take care of newborn babies in a basement converted into a nursery in Kyiv, Ukraine

Nannies take care of newborn babies in a basement converted into a nursery in Kyiv, Ukraine

A select few biological parents have managed to complete the process, including one British couple, Metaish and Manisha Parmar.

They were in Kyiv with their newborn twins Sai and Amaya as the invasion began, sheltering in a basement with Ukrainians in an apartment block.

The couple managed to flee the city after a 17-hour car journey across the country and a walk in freezing temperatures with their babies clasped to their chests. 

And American couple Jessie and Jacob Boeckmann carried their newborn baby to the Polish border after she was born by surrogate on February 22, two days before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Concerns are growing for the babies and the embryos that couples have in storage as the siege of Ukraine continues. Pictured: Newborn babies sleep in their cribs on March 17

Concerns are growing for the babies and the embryos that couples have in storage as the siege of Ukraine continues. Pictured: Newborn babies sleep in their cribs on March 17

Concerns are growing for the babies and the embryos that couples have in storage as the siege of Ukraine continues. 

It has led one EU official to call for the evacuation of babies from surrogate mothers in Ukraine.

The commissioner for internal affairs, Yiva Johansson, also spoke of her concern for children from surrogate mothers who were later put in orphanages. 

Speaking to members of the European parliament, she said that parents in the EU member states and US had struggled to get their babies out of Ukraine even before the invasion. 

It has led one EU official to call for the evacuation of babies from surrogate mothers in Ukraine. Pictured: A newborn baby is dressed on a changing table in Kyiv, Ukraine

It has led one EU official to call for the evacuation of babies from surrogate mothers in Ukraine. Pictured: A newborn baby is dressed on a changing table in Kyiv, Ukraine

She said: ‘During the pandemic many of those newborn babies have not been picked up, so they have been stuck and are now being taken care of in orphanages.’

However, some orphanages have been emptied during the invasion and it is unknown where the children are. 

The commissioner said:  ‘Surrogate mothers that gave birth to babies right now, these babies cannot be picked up either and they are a bit in a limbo,’

She stressed the importance of evacuating newborn babies from Ukraine.    

And Sam Everingham, global director of Growing Families, told the i  ‘It is such a difficult situation and we are getting many calls daily from couples who have got surrogates or embryos in Ukraine who are desperate for information.’

The commissioner for internal affairs, Yiva Johansson, also spoke of her concern for children from surrogate mothers who were later put in orphanages. Pictured: A newborn baby is dressed on a changing table in Kyiv, Ukraine

The commissioner for internal affairs, Yiva Johansson, also spoke of her concern for children from surrogate mothers who were later put in orphanages. Pictured: A newborn baby is dressed on a changing table in Kyiv, Ukraine

Low costs, willing women and favourable laws: Why Ukraine has become a global surrogacy hotspot for foreign parents 

Commercial surrogacy has been legal for married heterosexual couples in Ukraine since 2000. It is now the second most popular destination behind the US.

Mr Everingham said that a shortage of surrogates in the UK drives couples to look oversees. While the US is popular, the relatively high costs exclude some parents.

In Ukraine, the process costs around $55,000. Costs rise to around $60,000 if the couple is using a donor egg or sperm. In contrast the US surrogacy services can range from around $100,000 to $200,000.

Surrogates in the UK cannot be paid. Intended parents can only pay for expenses the surrogate incurs.

Ukraine’s laws are another factor. The Family code of Ukraine law states that where embryos created by IVF by the intended parents are returned to the womb of another woman, the intended parents are the legal parents.

The law in Ukraine specifically states that the baby belongs to the intended parents and the surrogate mother has no prenatal rights. Both intended parents names appear on the Ukrainian birth certificate.

This might appeal to British couples concerned over the UK laws that automatically grant rights to a surrogate. Laws in the US vary state to state.

Countries including Thailand, India and Nepal, which used to allow compensated surrogacy for foreigners, have banned the practice out of fear it led to the exploitation of women.

However there are restrictions on how Ukraine surrogacies can operate. Unlike in the UK, surrogacies in Ukraine can only be ‘gestational’, meaning the woman cannot be biologically linked to the baby. Meanwhile at least one of the intended parents must be biological.

 

The commissioner for internal affairs, Yiva Johansson, also spoke of her concern for children from surrogate mothers who were later put in orphanages. 

Speaking to members of the European parliament, she said that parents in the EU member states and US had struggled to get their babies out of Ukraine even before the invasion. 

She said: ‘During the pandemic many of those newborn babies have not been picked up, so they have been stuck and are now being taken care of in orphanages.’

However, some orphanages have been emptied during the invasion and it is unknown where the children are. 

The commissioner said:  ‘Surrogate mothers that gave birth to babies right now, these babies cannot be picked up either and they are a bit in a limbo,’

She stressed the importance of evacuating newborn babies from the besieged Ukraine.  

A select few parents have made the journey to be reunited with their children successfully.      

Ukraine is one of the rare countries in the world to allow mothers to carry babies for foreigners as a commercial practice.

Estimates say 2,500 to 3,000 children are born every year in Ukraine for clients outside the country, including in China, the United States and the EU.

The coronavirus pandemic put a spotlight on this growing business sector in Ukraine.

A large clinic in Kyiv aired a video of dozens of babies born from surrogate mothers and whose parents could not come to pick them up because the borders had been closed. 


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