Surrogacy in Ukraine
UPDATE: The global outbreak of Covid-19 has affected surrogacy in Ukraine. Travel to Ukraine is restricted for foreign couples until June 2020. IVF clinics continue to perform most procedures, but couples considering surrogacy in Ukraine should send existing embryos or donated oocytes by medical courier (or wait until the restrictions are lifted).
For couples that qualify, surrogacy in Ukraine is now the most affordable, legally secure and stable option for childless couples starting their own family. But despite some illicit options, Ukraine surrogacy is legal only for heterosexual married couples. Singles and LGBT couples should consider other destinations.
Jump Down this Article:
- The cost of surrogacy in Ukraine
- Is surrogacy in Ukraine legal?
- Satisfying the local bureaucracy
- Avoiding illicit surrogacy programs
- FAQ for surrogacy in Ukraine
Also in the Guide:
Legal and secure surrogacy 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 significantly better than other countries in the region (as well as other popular surrogacy destinations).
Cost of Surrogacy in Ukraine
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 extremely competitive prices, 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, which perform unlimited IVF cycles and embryo transfers until you have a healthy pregnancy and birth.
The table below shows an estimate of your total cost of surrogacy in Ukraine.
|Pay-per-Cycle Programs||Surrogacy Cost w/ Existing Embryos||"Guaranteed" Success Options|
|Egg Donor Pay||$3,000||NA||$3,000|
|Surrogate Matching & Prep||$5,000||$5,000||$6,000|
|Total Surrogacy Cost||$56,035||$51,830||$65,500|
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. (Compare this to altruistic surrogacy laws in the United Kingdom and in Canada.)
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.
Surrogate Mothers in Ukraine
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 inconveniences. All new parents must apply for citizenship or 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.
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.
Surrogacy Scandals in Ukraine
Even though surrogacy is well regulated in Ukraine, there are still some agencies that take advantage of the friendly laws and provide illegal services. SENSIBLE advises clients to be wary of large-scale, “surrogacy corporations” that cut corners and offer “too good to be true” deals.
Since 2009 when surrogacy in Ukraine was legalized, several enormous agencies have evolved. These organizations exist solely to cash in on the legality of commercial surrogacy in Ukraine. The profit-motivation of these corporations is a strong incentive to concoct ‘grey-area’ options that bypass local laws.
To be clear: most agencies in Ukraine are reliable and professional. But the practices by a very few, less-reputable organizations have led to some highly-publicized scandals. Intended Parents who work with such surrogacy services may find themselves under increased scrutiny, additional bureaucracy, and delays once their baby is born. Intended Parents who take advantage of “grey area” legal options in Ukraine are likely to find themselves in legal jeopardy.
Some Common-Sense Advice
Intended Parents should consider their surrogacy journey following these guidelines:
- Always adhere to the local laws, and be wary of any options that seem to operate in a legal grey area. This is especially true for programs that offer surrogacy for gay couples or single parents, which are strictly prohibited in Ukraine.
- Avoid surrogacy agencies that are wholly owned by a specific clinic. These agencies may have a conflict of interest that can impact the objectivity of client care.
- Avoid agencies that receive referral fees or other kickbacks from clinics.
- Avoid clinics that perform medical services and also find/manage the surrogate mothers. The surrogate mother’s care should be managed by an independent coordinator who has her best interest as a top priority.
- Work with general practice fertility clinics, which perform a wide variety of fertility procedures and not soley focused on surrogacy.
It’s always a red flag to work with an agency that is financially tied to a particular clinic; or worse, to be wholly operated by a clinic. There’s a clear conflict of interest if an agency is financially tied to just one clinic regardless of that clinic’s published success or reputation.
And it should go without saying that Intended Parents should avoid “solutions” offered by clinics that are contrary to the local laws. Some agencies may offer shortcuts to make the surrogacy process faster, easier or bypass some legal obstacles—but these solutions have inherent risks. While many times clients may make it through their process undetected, eventually these loopholes will be uncovered and the unlucky clients will find themselves facing severe penalties. Such gambling with the future of one’s family is not worth the risk, according to the consultancy.
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.
Frequent Questions about Surrogacy in Ukraine
Is surrogacy in Ukraine legal?
Ukraine has a much more supportive legal framework for surrogacy than other Western countries, including the United States. Under Ukrainian law, the child belongs solely to the intended parents from the moment of conception.
What is the total cost of surrogacy in Ukraine?
A typical surrogacy journey in Ukraine costs about $50,000 USD. Guarantee programs cost about $60,000 USD and include unlimited egg donations, IVF cycles and embryo transfers until a successful birth. Special concierge services are also offered by many agencies.
Is it difficult to return home with a surrogacy baby?
Receiving a passport for your newborn is simple and straightforward for North American couples. A US passport requires no more than 3 weeks, including DNA testing and paperwork by the local Consulate. Some European passports may take much longer.
Are surrogate mothers in Ukraine treated ethically?
Oversight of surrogate mothers in Ukraine is the most thorough and ethical worldwide. A surrogate in Kiev will live in her own home, have weekly visits from a social worker, receive housekeeping and childcare as needed, and may have regular direct contact with the IPs throughout the pregnancy.
Is gender selection available in Colombia?
Gender selection for family balancing is available. Although clinics cannot guarantee a boy or girl baby, PGS analysis will determine the gender of each embryo. Most clinics will allow the intended parents to choose which embryo to use during an embryo transfer procedure.
Is Ukraine safe for intended parents?
Most of western and central areas of Ukraine are still popular tourist destinations and as safe as any other European city. That said, travel to Crimea and the Russian border is discouraged due to disputes with Russian separatists,
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