The reasons behind the surrogacy boom in Ukraine
Ukraine is in news again but for reasons apolitical. The European nation has become the go-to place for people wanting to have children via surrogacy.
Despite regional, cultural and bureaucratic barriers, what unites prospective parents and surrogate mothers is desperate need. One party needs a child, the other, money.
Here, we look at how surrogacy is making a few dreams come true in Ukraine.
Ukraine: The emerging hub of surrogacy
It all began in 2015, after Asian countries such as India, Nepal and Thailand started shutting down their surrogacy shops amid allegations of exploitation and mistreatment.
Ukraine is a haven for Western couples because surrogate pregnancies here are legal and economical.
Moreover, it recognizes couples as the biological parents right from conception and lets surrogate mothers demand price they think suitable, reports the BBC.
Surrogacy demand in Ukraine has risen by 1000% since 2016
Sam Everingham, who works with Families Through Surrogacy, an advisory charity in Sydney for parents to-be, told the BBC that the demand for surrogacy in Ukraine has shot up by about 1000% since 2016.
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Why are Ukranian women drawn to it?
The rapid decline in monetary standard of living since the recession of 2014-2015 - thanks to the unrest between Ukrainian military and Russia-backed militants - has left several local women in want.
IVF pregnancies, though often poorly regulated and risky, offer good money and a hope for a better, comfortable future to these women wanting to raise their own children well.
Only mothers are permitted to be surrogates
Interestingly, the law in Ukraine allows women who have at least one child of their own to serve as surrogates. This is backed by the belief that it is easier for women with children to part with the newborn.
Eligibility for undertaking an IVF pregnancy in Ukraine
Only heterosexual, married couples who can prove that they cannot conceive biological children on their own because of medical reasons are allowed.
At least one of the parents should be genetically linked to the baby.
One IVF pregnancy usually costs between $30,000-$45,000.
The surrogate mother can never claim the baby's custody.
The official parents need to be on the Ukrainian birth certificate.
No bed of roses: Poor health check-ups, malpractices a reality
Though it's good money and most clinics, agencies play fair, there are several stories of malpractices and abuse.
It is not uncommon to hear of embryos being exchanged, incorrect/untimely treatment, and doctors taking more clients than recommended.
In some instances, surrogates aren't paid by agencies in case of miscarriages or if clients aren't benefited as expected.
Victims rarely complain, fearing backlash and ostracization.