Despite the war with Russia, surrogacy agencies in Ukraine are still accepting clients for their surrogate mothers. An article in Toronto’s Globe and Mail paints a picture of near-normality for the agencies. In fact, government paperwork has been reduced. Before the war, couples might have to spend a couple of months in Ukraine; now they can pick up their baby and leave within a few days.
As conditions in Ukraine worsen, it seems that more women are willing to be surrogates – just to survive. More than 30% of the employable population lack jobs – and women are often the first to be fired. “I need to raise my children, I need to feed them and the war is taking money not giving,” one woman told the Globe and Mail.
BioTexCom is the largest surrogacy business in Ukraine; various publications estimate that it handles two-thirds of the foreign couples seeking a child. In a video on its website its owner, Albert Tochilovsky, says that they are open for business.
Ukrainian fertility clinics tell journalists that they are preoccupied with saving the frozen embryos. “Russian troops have killed not only our soldiers and civilians, they have killed future babies as embryos,” says Dr Valery Zukin, of the Nadiya Clinic in Kyiv. “We’re trying to save not only our soldiers and our citizens—we are trying to save future citizens and future babies.” In eastern Ukraine, there are reports that fertility clinics and their frozen embryos, eggs and sperm have been destroyed. Dr Zukin told Women’s Health magazine that his clinic is caring for 19,000 frozen embryos. Some clinics have run out of liquid nitrogen which is hard to get under war conditions.
Foreign couples think more about shopping for a baby than about the welfare of the surrogate mother. “It’s weird, but people still think that it’s normal and they want to have a normal course and they are very surprised when it’s not,” says Julia Osiyevska, the owner of New Hope agency in Kyiv.
A women’s rights activist in Ukraine, Maria Dmytriyeva, told The Globe and Mail that foreign couples who hire surrogate mothers under wartime condition are just “vultures”.