Surrogacy in Ukraine
For couples that qualify, surrogacy in Ukraine is now the most affordable, legally secure and stable option for childless couples starting their own family.
Jump Down this Article:
- Surrogacy options within Europe
- Is surrogacy in Ukraine legal?
- Satisfying the local bureaucracy
- Kiev for tourists
Also in the Guide:
Stable and secure options are available within Europe
Ukraine offers European standards of medical care, a stable democracy, affordable cost of living, and the most supportive surrogacy laws worldwide. That’s why Ukraine continues to grow as a global surrogacy hub.
Experts predict further growth in demand for Ukrainian surrogate mothers, as well as a growth in the number of local women looking to carry pregnancies for foreign couples. These factors combined with explicit support from local legislation have made Kiev a hub for international surrogacy.
The city of Kiev is the capital of Eastern Europe. The country is at once European, but also follows a modern legal tradition. The Ukraine has explicit Federal legislation supporting surrogacy contracts for heterosexual, married couples. Embryo donation is legal, and egg donation is regulated by law. In addition, Europeans and Americans do not need a special visa to enter the country for the purpose of surrogacy.
Ukraine has a long history helping childless couples start families. The country has been a popular destination for international adoption, and since 2009 Kiev has been growing as a hub for overseas surrogacy. Western couples can find Caucasian egg and sperm donors easily, far more affordably than international donation agencies (that regularly charge $15,000 to $20,000 USD per donation). About 95% of population is of European decent.
Ukraine enjoys relatively high living standards, and surrogate mothers are accustomed to clean and safe living conditions and healthy food. The World Health Organization rates the Ukraine as having low incidents of low birth weight and infant mortality. Ukraine ranks #116 on the list of countries, which places it significantly ahead of both India and Thailand. (This is well ahead of other countries where surrogacy is also allowed).
There are several excellent IVF clinics in Kiev, and pricing and services typically vary widely among each. Quality clinics have modern equipment based on Western medical protocols, and the medical staff of most private clinics have been trained in Europe and the United States. Unlike other destinations, Ukrainian surrogacy clinics offer an ala carte services, with an extremely competitive programs, and ‘concierge; services added according to the wishes and circumstances of the Intended Parents. Special pricing is often an option. Some clinics will offer “guarantee” programs, that perform unlimited IVF cycles and embryo transfers until you have a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Is Surrogacy in Ukraine Legal?
Surrogacy in Ukraine is both legal and secure. The practice is well regulated, and surrogacy contracts are considered enforceable under legislation enacted at the Federal level.
Under Ukrainian law, the child belongs solely to the Intended Parents from the moment of conception. Once the baby is born, the birth certificate is issued with the names of the Intended Parents, and the Surrogate is not awarded any parental rights. As a result, the surrogate has no standing to keep the baby or claim any rights. This is true even if egg and sperm donors were used and there were no biological relation between the child and intended parents — their names remain on the birth certificate.
In general, Ukraine has a much more comprehensive legal framework for surrogacy than other European countries. Most countries either prohibit surrogacy altogether or they allow surrogacy agreements only if the surrogate is unpaid. For those countries that allow surrogacy, the laws typically give all parental rights to the surrogate until a court process (a ‘Parental Order’ for example) can transfer the rights from her to the Intended Parents. In these countries the surrogate has an option to sue for custody if she chooses — but this is not the case with surrogacy in Ukraine.
Surrogacy in Ukraine is officially regulated by Clause 123 of the Family Code of Ukraine, which establishes the parental relationship in cases of Medically Assisted Reproduction. Under the article, “if an ovum conceived by a [married couple] is implanted to another woman, the [married couple] shall be the parents of the child. The clause supports the surrogacy contract, while at the same time restricting the procedure only to married couples. (“Married” refers to Ukrainian law – which at the moment does not recognize same-sex marriages.)
Registration of the baby is regulated by the Order 24 and Order 771 of the Health Ministry of Ukraine, which deals with medical procedure of artificial insemination and embryo implantation. The order declares that in cases has given birth to a baby conceived by another couple (i.e., a surrogacy arrangement) the registration of the child is made based on the surrogacy agreement signed by the Intended Parents and the written consent of the surrogate. The agreement is submitted alongside the medical document certifying that the surrogate gave birth to child of the Intended Parents, and this allows the Intended Parents to be registered as legal parents of the child.
Meanwhile Order 24 of the Health Ministry of Ukraine further regulates the details of surrogacy in Ukraine, giving guidelines that protect the surrogate and ensure a healthy outcome to the process. Under the guidelines, surrogates must be:
- Between 25-35 years old.
- The natural mother of at least one child.
- Mentally and physically capable of becoming a Surrogate Mother.
- Surrogate may have no relation to commissioning parents.
- The marital status of the surrogate is irrelevant.
- A legal surrogacy agreement must be signed between the parents and the surrogate
That said, surrogacy in Ukraine is not without its risks. All new parents must apply for citizenship and travel visas to return home with their newborn babies. This is quite easy in countries like the United States or the UK. However some countries have steadfastly refused to issue citizenship to surrogacy babies, including Italy and Switzerland. All couples who are considering surrogacy in Ukraine should check with a local Family Law expert to see what will be the process for establishing citizenship and bringing the baby home. (More on Ukraine Family law and surrogacy can be found here.)
Local bureaucracy for surrogacy in Ukraine….
Surrogacy in Ukraine is tightly regulated, which makes it a secure and stable destination to start your family. However it also means there is some additional red tape to navigate to qualify.
Here are the documents you will must provide to fulfill the legal requirements in Ukraine:
- Passport photocopies of the father and mother.
- Marriage certificate of the parents, with Apostille.
- Original letter from a doctor (on the letterhead of the clinic/doctor with doctor’s signature) stating a diagnosis of infertility
Your local doctor must provide a statement that the intended mother is unable to successfully carry a pregnancy herself. This letter is an important requirement of the Ukrainian bureaucracy for surrogacy. Specifically, the letter should explicitly state one of the following reasons why surrogacy is a recommended option:
1. Because of multiple failed IVF attempts (at least 4 attempts), surrogacy is now recommended to achieve a successful pregnancy.
2. Infertility issue such as an absence or deformation of the uterus or cervix, or non-receptivity of the endometrium (such as submucous myoma).
3. Because of specific health issue, a natural pregnancy would be impossible or would put the mother’s health at risk. In this case the letter should cite the specific medical condition.
Your doctor only needs to state one of these excuses in his letter. He should also add that among the available fertility treatments, surrogacy would be a likely option. (Also, couples should also send any available medical records regarding previous fertility treatments. The clinic in Kiev will want to know as much about your medical history as possible when they accept you as a patient.)
Sometimes the details of a patient’s situation are obvious — and you may think they do not need explanation to the clinic. But the requirement is not intended for the clinic — it is to satisfy the local government, which requires a doctor’s letter on file. The clinic is charged with enforcing the requirement. All surrogacy cases are reviewed by the authorities to ensure that the paperwork requirements are met.
As with the fertility analysis mentioned above, the letter is another point of negotiation with the various Kiev clinics. Some clinics will accept a letter that is more general and less explicit. Some require strict adherence to the regulations. When you approach clinics about a possible program, the more clearly the requirements are met, the more likely the clinic is to accept your case and offer a better package.
Fact Sheet: Kiev for Tourists
Kiev (or Kyiv) is the capital and largest city of Ukraine, located in the north central part of the country on the Dnieper River. The city is one of the oldest in Eastern Europe, dating back to the 5th century.
The population is about 3 million, making Kiev the 8th largest city in Europe. According to a 2001 census, about 93% of Ukrainians have a secondary education, and nearly 46% have achieved university education. Ukraine’s population is overwhelmingly Christian; the vast majority – up to two-thirds – identify themselves as Orthodox Christian.
Average temperatures range from an average 26ºC (79ºF) in summer to -2°C (28ºF) in winter. Spring and autumn can be very brief. Heat waves or cold spells occur occasionally, and can push temperatures as high as 38ºC (100ºF) or as low as -20ºC (-4ºF).
Ukraine ranks #166 on the worldwide list of countries by low birth weight, and 155 on the list for infant mortality. That puts the country right next to other developed countries like United Arab Emirates and Lebanon, and well ahead of Thailand or Mexico.
Although travel to Crimea and the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is discouraged (due to political turmoil), Western regions of the country (including Kiev) are generally safe and open for tourism. Most Westerners do not need a visa to visit Ukraine for fewer than 90 days, and no special permit is needed to enter for the purpose of surrogacy in Ukraine. A visa or valid Ukrainian residency permit is needed for all stays longer than 90 days. Ukrainian law requires visitors to have valid health insurance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Houghton
Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the ‘Sensible’ Surrogacy Guide, and a dedicated Consultant who has advised thousands of couples on worldwide opportunities for Gestational Surrogacy. He is also a surrogacy parent himself, and advocates for ethical and secure gestational surrogacy programs. Learn more about Bill on his profile page at SensibleSurrogacy.com as well as professional background on LinkedIn.
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