Surrogacy in Ukraine, legal aspects

Surrogacy in Ukraine, legal aspects

Infertility treatment by using the services of a surrogate mother is now widely applied in countries where surrogacy is allowed. Nowadays, numerous countries have fully or partially forbidden it. Due to the presence of such restrictions, Ukraine has become one of the most frequent destinations for surrogacy for couples who want to extend their families. However, this isn’t the only reason why people choose Ukraine: the affordable price for surrogacy packages together with the excellent quality and high success rates make this country a lucrative location.

Legal requirements for IPs and surrogate

Despite the legitimacy of surrogacy on the territory of Ukraine, any couple who decides to pursue their program in the clinic or agency must meet certain criteria. The first and the most important one is the presence of the medical reason why you have to use gestational carrier’s services. This reason has to be connected with the impossibility to conceive and carry a pregnancy to the term. The full list of indications is outlined in the Order on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies from the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, however, it is the doctor who can issue the official confirmation.

The most widespread reasons that are considered legal in Ukraine are the absence of a uterus or four and more failed IVF attempts with transfers of good quality embryos. Other reasons include deformations of the uterus or other diseases which become an obstacle for successful pregnancy and delivery. Male infertility isn’t considered to be a valid reason to start surrogacy.

Another essential condition is the official marriage. Only heterosexual and married couples are allowed to become intended parents in Ukraine, otherwise, it would be deemed illegal. One more crucial requirement is connected with an embryo to be transferred. Even though both egg and sperm donation is legal in Ukraine, this won’t be the case with surrogacy. If donor’s material is needed, it can be used either from the intended father’s or mother’s side. Therefore, the embryo has to be genetically linked to one or more intended parent.

When it comes to surrogates, they should also comply with the conditions, set by Ukrainian law. Each of them shall be a biological mother of a healthy baby and have easy pregnancy and delivery. Their health state is checked at the clinic where they decide to stay and if any disease that may put the pregnancy at risk is detected, such woman won’t be accepted. There is no limit set as for their age from the legal point of view, but agencies tend to recruit women who are 20-35 years old.

Traditional surrogacy, where a surrogate gives her eggs for fertilization, is not legal in Ukraine. For this reason, the surrogate’s biological material cannot be used in IVF and she can only become a carrier. Her marital status is of no importance, either married and single/divorced women are accepted. In case she is officially married, her husband has to give consent in the written form and confirm he has no objections. If the woman has a partner (and they aren’t married), agencies tend to check if he is aware of such a decision and make sure she is together with supportive person.

In addition, a surrogate must lead a healthy lifestyle and be a reliable woman who understands the responsibility and is ready to follow the doctor’s recommendation. She needs to have an urge to help another couple and to be ready to devote this part of life to a very special pregnancy.

How does surrogacy look like in Ukraine?

Surrogacy programs are organized in different ways, depending on the country. In Ukraine, intended parents will need a clinic, agency and attorney. They can sign contracts with each of them separately or find a reliable agency that will recommend a clinic according to the budget and preferred location. The most popular cities for surrogacy in Ukraine are Kyiv and Lviv, both of them have airports with regular flights to a wide range of countries.

A lot of agencies offer packages that cover an extensive list of organizational, legal and medical services. The variety of choices gives freedom to find the agency and program to feel comfortable with. IPs select the agency to work with on the basis of recommendations, either from their friends or those found online. It is recommended to have a video conference or come in person to meet the team before signing the contract. 

Once IPs sign the papers with the agency, they can move to IVF and selecting a surrogate. Fertilization and embryo culture can be done either in the home country or in Ukraine. If the embryo development takes place in another clinic, embryos should be transported and the surrogacy program with frozen embryo transfer is done. Most couples choose doing all the procedures in one place to avoid extra people involved and expenses. 

It is worth finding a woman you’d like from the first sight and adhering to agency’s recommendation in this process. Our coordinators at Parens Fertility set up video calls where you can talk to the candidate and be confident in your choice. It is best to come individually as such meeting builds connection between you and your surrogate and gives more confidence. However, not every couple can actually come due to their work schedule or the impossibility to travel for a long distance. 

Programs that Ukrainian agencies offer can be roughly divided into those with IPs’ biological material and packages with egg or sperm donor. The most widespread surrogacy package suggested in Ukraine is one with donor eggs. Ukrainian legislation has provided pretty favourable conditions for both Ukrainians and foreign citizens who can come here for any type of infertility treatment. The possibility to legally use donor eggs or sperm together with the gestational carrier is one of the biggest advantages for patients. 

The egg donor matching is different from the surrogate selection in Ukraine. Due to legal restrictions and the anonymity of egg donors, patients are not able to meet their donor, find out her name or get contact details. However, agencies are trying to create extensive profiles with the essential information. In addition, patients receive photos and can see the person. Our coordinators from Parens Fertility say this amount of information is always enough to make the right choice.

When the matching is done, the medical procedures can start. If there is an egg donor, the fertility doctor will synchronize her cycle with surrogate’s. This is done to avoid freezing embryos and to do the fresh embryo transfer. If IPs decide for PGD, the synchronization stage won’t be done. After the transfer of an embryo pregnancy can be confirmed in 10-14 days. Then, the surrogate is taken care of by her team of doctors and coordinators.

Surrogate pregnancy is different from the natural one and requires more attention and care. Considering the fertilization is done outside the body, surrogate will take her hormone drugs for as long as doctor recommends to. Each surrogate should have a personal coordinator who she can contact in case of need or emergency. This person is assigned by the agency and is responsible for arranging all the appointments and controlling the course of the program.

During the pregnancy woman comes to see her doctor at least once a month. During these visits she also does blood and urine tests, has consultations with other medical specialists. Even though agencies are trying to recruit surrogates who live close to their location, around 95% move to live maximum 20 minutes from maternity hospital in case they need help. To be in a close proximity to the hospital is also a big advantage when delivery starts. Once the baby is born, intended parents together with their attorney start preparing documents to leave Ukraine and go back home.


 

Surrogacy arrangements

Surrogacy is becoming more and more popular not only with heterosexual couples, but also with homosexual or single people as a decent alternative to adoption. However, there aren’t a lot of countries with freedom to enter into surrogacy agreement under all these conditions and a big number number of them doesn’t allow it at all on the legislative level. That is when intended parents resort to the international surrogacy.

International surrogacy is the type of surrogacy where intended parents travel to another country to extend their families and it has already become a way out for many couples all over the world. The legal limitations isn’t the only reason why people decide to find a surrogate abroad, another is the affordable price. If we compare costs in the USA and Ukraine, the latter will be the only option for some couples who cannot afford a program at home.

It is important for each couple who is about to start their international program to understand the possible risks. It is recommended to have a conversation with the independent lawyer and get information about the registration of the baby after the birth. In some cases it becomes impossible and couples who rely only on the contract with an agency can get stuck in Ukraine without the possibility to legally leave. There is enough of unfortunate cases when parents are forced to stay in Ukraine for the unknown amount of time, until the solution is found. 

In order to start the journey, the surrogacy arrangement needs to be made. A surrogacy arrangement is the agreement between the surrogate and intended parents on carrying and giving birth to a baby. Surrogacy can be either altruistic or commercial and it should be supported by the presence of the surrogacy contract prepared by an attorney. Altruistic surrogacy involves no compensation to surrogate, neither monthly nor final while for commercial one it is crucial to have it outlined in the contract.

Surrogacy arrangement in Ukraine is possible with the provision that both surrogate and intended parents meet the requirement of the Ukrainian law. Therefore, it should involve the following parties:

  1. Gestational carrier.
  2. Intended parents (heterosexual and married).
  3. Agency (not obligatory).
  4. Medical facility.

Independent lawyers (both in Ukraine and home country) are hired to make sure the surrogacy program is legal. This is lawyer who creates the surrogacy contract which must include the information about these parties along with their obligations and rights.

Ukraine is considered to be the country with pretty favourable conditions for surrogacy as intended parents are considered as legal parents from the very beginning. When the baby is born, their names will be indicated in the birth certificate, the official document issued by the civil registry office. This document doesn’t have any information about the surrogate. However, the situation in a lot of countries where surrogacy is banned is different - one may be even sentenced to several years in prison for violating the law.

Another widespread concern that arises during the surrogacy arrangement is the hypothetical possibility that surrogate may claim her rights as a mother. Unlike other countries, a surrogate in Ukraine has no parental rights over the baby and IPs are its legal parents from the moment of pregnancy confirmation.

Conclusion

Surrogacy is one of the most controversial topics for discussion and laws which regulate its implementation in different countries has no tendency to change rapidly. It takes decades for countries to develop favourable conditions, and lots of infertile couples who can only become parents through surrogacy dream of having this possibility regardless of their citizenship.

At this point, the most reasonable decision for those who pursue international commercial surrogacy is to be supported by attorneys who can explain the nuances and offer ways to avoid issues either during the program or with obtaining legal parenthood. 

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