Ukraine may be often overlooked, but the country of the North still dominates the surrogacy industry.
Despite a long, ongoing conflict and a slightly checkered past, Ukraine is still destination number one for couples searching to expand their families. Ukraine surrogacy has only swelled since the advent of surrogate service friendly laws in the early 2000.
Not just in Ukraine, but almost everywhere, surrogacy is a hotly debated topic. Deeply imbedded in the battlegrounds of LGBTQ communities, and women’s rights. Countries like India continue to make new, and seemingly retroactive, legislation. Where in places like the US, no one consensus can be reached.
Many countries and news sources are quick to criticize the practices of surrogacy, specifically surrogacy in Ukraine. But in Ukraine itself, law makers, citizens, and physician’s, seem overjoyed by the practices. The country sees thousands of couples struggling to make a family of their own each year. While countless programs are available in other countries, surrogacy Ukraine still remains number one. And for very good reasons.
What Makes Ukraine Different?
Ukraine has put in place legislation and policy that protects providers, surrogates, and families alike. These laws have been a driving force for the high numbers of intended parents that visit the country each year. Offering a stability that’s rarely seen elsewhere. “The laws protect surrogates themselves, as well as intended parents. Policy is in place that appropriately guides institutions on how practice should be performed.” Says a spokesperson for one of Ukraine’s leading surrogacy clinics, ilaya.
While you’re sure to find contracts that are composed in bad faith, exploitative practice, and shady “back alley” agreements, if intended parents do their research and stick with reliable clinics, it’s unlikely that they’ll be subject to the dark sides of the system.
“Accredited agencies and certified providers have to stick to a very strict process.” Ilaya says. Meaning that potential surrogates must pass rigorous testing prior to being accepted. Proving that they are making this choice in good faith- not out of desperation. Providers can press the boundaries of medical technology and go further than most other clinics from around the world, but must do so in a safe and tightly regulated manner.
The laws and policies governing Ukraine’s surrogacy business have been shown to be shelf-stable. Meeting intended parents with consistency and quality for over a decade. Since the proposal of the regulations, there has been little change to laws. Building and maintaining a system that has been shown to work consistently.
Meeting the Demand
This consistency has paid off. Ukraine sees thousands of potential parents every year, with numbers increasing steadily. Despite the seemingly constant increase in demand, Ukraine still offers little to no wait time for intended parents that have been accepted by programs. The medical care is on par with some of the finest in the world, and the cost of living in the country is cheap. Which brings down the notoriously restrictive price tag of surrogacy programs in other countries.
Meaning that couples who aren’t in the top 10% of earners can still hope to have a child of their own. Surrogacy programs in Ukraine come at a fraction of what couples would expect to pay for commercial in places like the United States. They can also directly compete with the prices of countries that only offer altruistic surrogacy, like Canada and Australia.
This is just another reason why Ukraine remains one of the biggest providers of multinational surrogacy in the world. Despite a troubled past.
Even today, Ukraine finds itself in the midst of a long term territorial conflict with Russia, which has put a stranglehold on much of the economy. In order to stave off collapse, Ukraine began investing in trade infrastructure with Europe in 1999. By 2016, the country was able to solidify a trade agreement with the EU, which allows them the power of free movement of goods, services, capital, and people. Promoting internal infrastructure, while making it simple for European couples to come back home following their surrogate conception. It also ensures that the government and policies of the country uphold respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights.
A close working relationship with the EU gives many potential parents throughout Europe a peace of mind, as well as access to convenient travel. Which just ticks another box on the long list of what intended parents look for when choosing a surrogacy program.
Holding Their Ground
Understanding demand, however, does little to explain how Ukraine is poised to keep up as well as they have. While the country still struggles with poverty and in 2018, had the second lowest GDP per capita in Europe, they still are able to provide couples and surrogates with excellent medical care and expansive legal protections. With jobs at a premium, and a country filled with robust people, looking to lead the same lives we all hope for, Ukraine is not wanting for potential surrogates.
However, this situation has been seen before, in places like India, Thailand and Nepal. While these were major players in the surrogate tourism circuit, due to rampant exploitation and dangerous practices, surrogate programs have all but disappeared in these countries. So how has Ukraine been able to maintain a decades long surrogacy institution without falling prey to these problems?
In fact, it all has to do with policy. What has made them unique in the face of so many other international surrogacy campaigns, is Ukraine’s consistent reliability. Potential surrogates are offered compensation for their time and efforts- providing they’re between the ages of 21-35, have already had a child of their own with no complications, and are able to pass a series of mental and physical tests.
Laws also state that certain levels of care and ongoing prenatal assessment must be performed throughout the surrogate’s pregnancy. Lawful surrogacy agreements must be written and ratified prior to the continuation of the surrogacy. These agreements carefully outline the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. They are legally protected and recognized, giving all involved an avenue for recourse, should someone not adhere to their responsibilities.
In short, it’s a good business. It allows providers the equipment, experience, and patients necessary to a good practice. Surrogates are able to find gratifying work in which they are properly cared for, and intended parents find the greatest joy of them all- having the chance at a child of their own.