Ukraine's Child Surrogacy Industry

Motherland Ukraine is the new ‘go-to’ destination for couples desperate to be parents, but the industry is out of control. This 6-month investigation uncovers a trail of exploited surrogates and abandoned babies.
"It was a reckless decision to make, because we didn’t have all the facts", says new parent Kate Smith. With international surrogacy now banned in Thailand and India, she and her partner were just one of the heterosexual couples drawn to Ukraine as an alternative. Slick surrogacy websites and glossy brochures tout 100% birth guarantees, but when Smith's baby boy needed urgent medical help, it couldn't be found. "I wasn't prepared for the state of the hospitals", says Smith, who worries for her son's long-term health. Often targeting remote and poor regions near Ukraine's war-torn borders, firms like BioTexCom have been accused of working with few rules and fewer scruples. "Surrogate mothers, they're a flow of incubators. They don't treat you as a human being" says one of BioTexCom's former-surrogates. Drawn by the life-changing money, she went through two terms, both ending in early terminations. "These companies don’t care who they provide their services to, why and how they are provided", says Children's Ombudsman Nikolai Kuleba. He is aware of up to ten cases of children rejected by commissioning parties, left in limbo as stateless orphans.

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