Surrogacy: 10 years ago, and now

In 2004, which now seems so far away, a woman named Inna gave birth to a child for an infertile couple. They were brought together by mutual acquaintances who knew about her financial problems and suggested this way out.

Every year there are more and more women who agree to help the childless couple. Now Ukraine has changed its legislation: in 2012 it was decided that biological parents have the priority right to a child, not a surrogate mother. Moreover, the age limits for a gestational courier (this is how the surrogate mothers are called in the official documents) were determined: from 20 to 55 years old. And the most important change is that now not only couples in a formal marriage, but also civil couples or single women may use the surmother’s services.

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Now, according to statistics, about 15 such children are born every year in clinics in Kiev alone. This figure does not seem impressive, but few couples with a diagnosis of “infertility” require such serious treatment.

But in general, there are no accurate data in Ukraine about such treatment, as clinics keep confidentiality of those who undergo treatment or become a surrogate mother. Especially since our society, and indeed the whole world, is still somewhat wary of such a fact as a gestational courier, and parents prefer to conceal the fact.

According to the experts working in this sphere, the surrogacy process is fully regulated by law, and separate nuances are solved by signing a contract certified by a lawyer. Things are much more complicated from the moral and ethical standpoint.

Surrogate mothers most often become surrogates for money. Practically every major reproduction clinic has its own database of women who are ready to bear another woman’s child for compensation. Besides nowadays it is possible to find a surrogate on the internet, though it is rather risky, because while the society is only getting used to the idea of surrogacy, many swindlers have long since learnt how to make money out of it.

In about 80% of the cases, the role of a surrogate is performed by a stranger, although sometimes it is done by close relatives or friends of the couple. Such an approach greatly reduces costs, but often strains the family environment, especially since after childbirth the hormonal surge makes women fully feel the maternal instinct, and they want to communicate with the child. In the case of a relative giving birth to him, this can lead to serious conflict, so it is better to use the services of outsiders, with whom you can then painlessly say goodbye.

Reproductive clinics estimate that only 1-2% of couples resort to surrogacy out of cases of artificial insemination. Most are helped by IVF (in vitro fertilization, in which the egg and sperm fuse and the first stages of development take place in laboratories), but there are cases where IVF is powerless. Also, surmam services are needed for women who cannot bear and give birth themselves due to medical contraindications, such as the absence of a uterus or heart disease.

Ukraine is one of the few countries where authorities have legalized this type of treatment for infertile couples. Surrogacy is still banned in France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and some states of America. Particularly in Germany, child abandonment is considered a crime, and in the case of surrogacy the doctor is responsible.

According to the standard requirements for surmamas of reproduction clinics, a woman should not be older than 35 and should have at least one healthy child of her own (in this case a woman usually takes on the role of a surmother for her baby, and there is less chance that she will want to keep the newborn). Besides, the presence of a child allows us to judge the quality of a woman’s reproductive system, because there are cases when an outwardly healthy woman cannot get pregnant.

To avoid conflicts, doctors do not use surrogate eggs for fertilization. If a woman cannot provide genetic material, donor eggs are used. This avoids a lot of problems, because when using a surrogate’s eggs, the surrogate will really give someone else’s baby, besides, there is a much higher chance that she will want to keep it for herself.