Because of poverty and unemployment, Ukrainian women have become live “incubators” for foreigners, with Ukraine becoming one of the world’s centers of surrogate motherhood.
The Internet, newspapers and even street advertising are full of offers to become a host mother. Banners with such themes appear not only in large cities, but also in villages far from industrial centers.
Sam Everingham, founder of the Sydney non-profit “Families Through Surrogacy,” said that demand for this service “has increased probably 1000%” in the last two years.”
There are several reasons why Ukrainian women are so popular in the so-called “surrogate market.”
Antonina Yatsenko, the agency manager who is looking for host mothers to carry clients’ biological children, explained: “…first, for the last 2-3 years, life became much more expensive, but amount of work and money remain on the same level. But when woman has carried another person’s fetus to term, she can allow herself to have a good life for some period of time, pay off the debts, or buy not very expensive land property. Secondly, one of the popular centers of surrogate motherhood was closed for foreigners in Аsia in 2014.”
Ukrainian women are asked for surrogate motherhood service primarily by foreigners, especially from Western European countries. This interest of Europeans to hire Ukrainians as surrogates is caused not by their interest in the Slavic genofond, but in the price of services — in the West, the service of surrogates is much more expensive.
A woman who has agreed to be a surrogate mother is rewarded. In Ukraine, the average sum of such remuneration ranges from 13 to 15 thousand dollars. In addition to this sum, the surrogate mother agrees with the child’s parents that they will cover various additional expenses: a one-time purchase of clothes for the pregnant woman, food, and transportation costs. The surrogate mother can also be paid 250 to 300 dollars each month for pregnancy compensation. Also, in the last months of the pregnancy, she can rent a house in a city where the biological parents live or where they will attend the childbirth.
Surrogate motherhood is one of the most controversial questions discussed in modern society, and the issue has both supporters and opponents.
The obvious advantages of surrogate motherhood include the following:
- For childless couples, most important is the opportunity to have their own biological child;
- By providing the help of bearing a child, the surrogate mother can solve her own financial difficulties, because the service is well paid by the future parents.
Opponents of surrogate maternity emphasize the disadvantages:
- The process of bearing and birthing a baby who will then be passed on to the genetic parents is often a strong psychological trauma to the surrogate mother;
- The baby born through surrogacy may not truly become a native to the family of his/her genetic parents;
- Surrogate motherhood turns children into a sort of commodity, and the process of motherhood into contractual work.
These trends have led to the fact that commercial surrogate motherhood has been restricted or banned by many countries all over the world.
Olga Bohomolets, the head of the Health and Safety Executive, said that surrogate motherhood is out of the state’s control. There is a risk that a surrogate mother can refuse to give the child away, and also that parents may not want to take it.
Ukrainian current legislation is one of the most liberal in the world towards the use of reproductive technologies. Some of the legal aspects of surrogate motherhood are regulated in accordance with the legislation of Ukraine (Section 2, Article 123 of the Family Code of Ukraine) http://zakon0.rada.gov.ua/laws/show/2947-14
However, the matter of the responsibilities and rights of the two parties are not fully clarified in the Ukrainian legislation. But it is specified that the rights of a woman who is a surrogate mother are not to be violated in any way. The rights of surrogate mothers must be guaranteed at the same level as the rights of surrogate parents. However, it is often believed that he who pays the piper calls the tune.
Also, our country attracts those looking for surrogates because of the quality of both doctor and medical technologies.
Agents, managers and doctors who work in this area say that for now, Ukrainian clinics have enough resources to meet growing demand. But at the same time, there is a danger that the “conveyor” approach to surrogacy will lead to a situation with financial interests outweighing the prosperity and health of the surrogate mothers.
Daniila Saxon and Oksana Solovyova (Kiev, Ukraine)
(translation by Tatiana Anokhina)