Growing Families annual UK/EU conferences are coming up in March, bringing together surrogates, parents and professionals from around the globe. For the first time surrogates from Ukraine will be speaking
For many couples who have experienced medical complications in pregnancy, including the heartbreak of late miscarriage or still-birth, working with a surrogate to create their family becomes the best way forward. However surrogacy arrangements can be complicated emotionally and logistically.
As well, surrogacy and even egg donation can be expensive. So increasingly Europeans are choosing destinations such as Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. Growing Families (formerly Families Through Surrogacy) has been running events in the UK since 2014. Back then many were creating families in India or Thailand. However with the closure of many south-east Asian countries to surrogacy, hopeful parents were forced to look at other options.
While there has been a growth in UK citizens engaging in domestic surrogacy, an absence of binding contracts and lack of surrogate screening and payment turns many off local arrangements. So more recently, many dozens each year have turned to countries like Ukraine.
Growing Families events have regularly heard from UK surrogates, and occasionally those from the US and Canada
But developing country surrogates have never had a voice. So for the first time this March, surrogates from both Ukraine and Russia will share their own stories.
Marina is one of these women. From Ukraine, Marina saw a newspaper ad for surrogacy and thought “Why not try?”
Mother to boys aged 7 and 11, Marina explains she “feels the pain of those couples who struggle to get pregnant and become parents.”
She was invited for initial testing and screening, including blood tests, swabs, scans and consultations with different doctors.
“I also had to provide documents to prove that I have children of my own and that I do not have any problems with the law” Marina explains.
I ask her whether surrogacy is generally accepted in Ukraine or is it a taboo subject?”
“There is a growing tendency for women to become surrogates” She says. “However at times the older generation is more reluctant to accept this .. and may judge”.
“My husband was not supportive at first” Marina admits, “but he accepted my decision, although he was worried for me. My parents and my husband’s parents knew from the very begining and it was not easy for them accepting my choice. My closest friends knew and they gave me their full support”.
Marina ultimately carried for a Brazilian couple, earning around US20,000. I ask her what impact that had on her life
“It might sound strange to some people, but my family has been dreaming about a car and our own apartment. Unfortunately we were never able to realise this dream, …Having earned this money as a surrogate we have finally purchased a car and an apartment of our own.”
Non-profit Growing Families London conference on 21 March will provide much more insight from Marina, three other surrogates and parents who have gone down this route
The format provides a welcoming introduction to others in the same situation as well as insights on legal issues, eligibility, costs, risks, medical and psychological considerations. Visit here for more details