Ahead of Growing Families London and Dublin seminars on 2/3 October on international Donor IVF and Surrogacy options, global expert Sam Everingham profiles one of the events’ parent speakers
Some countries have responses much more cautiously to the Covid-19 pandemic than others. Back in March 2020, the country of Georgia – one of just six countries offering legally protected surrogacy to foreign nationals, closed its surrogacy programs. Not until June 2021, with vaccinations higher and the world starting to live with Covid, did the country finally re-opened its programs.
So why is this significant? For a start, given so few countries offer legal protection to foreigners engaging in surrogacy, the closure left hundreds forced to wait or ship their embryos elsewhere. Secondly, for those eligible for Georgian surrogacy (heterosexual couples with a medical need), it has been one of the most affordable options available.
Many women do not turn to surrogacy until their late thirties or forties. At this stage, affordability can be a key barrier. Often they may have already spent years shelling out for IVF and donor programs that have led nowhere.
Hannah Scott is one of these. Now loving being a mum to one year old George, for many years she doubted parenthood would happen. Seven years ago, she and her defacto partner tried for a child naturally, then invested in IVF through three funded NHS cycles. The drugs she was prescribed had awful side effects, including weight gain. As well she suffered two miscarriages.
She and her partner persevered, trying three rounds of egg donor IVF in Greece, even trialling donor sperm as well. Nothing worked.
While her doctors in Athens and the UK ordered five hysteroscopies, Hannah was never informed of problems with her uterus. Not until she invested in the same tests through an independent Greek pathology unit was she told the truth – significant uterine scarring meant she would never carry a child. Hannah felt cheated by IVF clinics convincing her to invest in repeated transfers with little chance of success – “Throwing money down the drain – I had had enough.”
Seeing all her friends having children, “I changed from bubbly and outgoing to not wanting to go out” Hannah admits. “(But) I knew I wanted to be a mum.”
She turned to surrogacy, looking at options in Greece, Ukraine and Georgia – given each had protective legal frameworks. Aged 40, Hannah finally selected Georgia. It was October 2019. Within a month, with the help of a Georgian donor, ten embryos were created.
Bracing for another long journey, Hannah was delighted when in January last year, the first transfer to her surrogate worked. Baby George was born in September 2020.
“If I could turn back time, I would have done this a long time ago”, Hannah admits. She now moderates a popular Facebook group for intended parents engaging in Georgia.
In early October, Hannah along with three other recent UK parents will discuss in details their overseas family building journeys at Growing Families London Event. These seminars cater to safe, regulated family building options for singles, couples whatever their sexuality and budgets. They provide honest insight into the processes, hurdles, success rates, costs, latest developments and ultimate joys. In this series, expert speakers also discuss the specifics of donor and surrogacy options in the USA, Ukraine, Canada & Georgia.
Growing Families is an information and referral hub for singles and couples hoping to build their family with the help of donor IVF and/or surrogacy.