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Amid shutdowns in commercial surrogacy programmes in some of Europe’s most notable destinations, parents from abroad are turning their hopeful eyes to Ukraine. Would you?

While it’s rarely the first choice of any hopeful family, surrogacy can sometimes be the last viable option available to couples in need.

While contemporary medicine has be able to address a myriad of infertility issues, there are still some that are insurmountable. Leaving parents in need with few options.

Surrogacy is a hot debate in the media right now and has been for at least the last decade. Few countries have ideal legislation concerning the practice while others outright ban it.

Countries that were prominent for commercial surrogacy practices, such as India, Thailand, and Nepal, have closed extra national programmes due to reports of exploitation.

So where does that leave parents hoping to secure the future of their families? “Most of our clients are heartbroken when they come to us,” a spokesperson for a prominent multinational surrogacy company explains.

“Surrogacy is rarely anyone’s first choice, and the faith that the process requires is monumental.”

Dr. Rashmed Tounsend, has been working with the Valencia based company Ilaya since it’s advent in 2011. Ilaya services Ukraine surrogacy programmes but operates out of Spain.

“I think that most couples would prefer to work with a surrogate that was local to their home country, but due to legislation and cost, that option is largely unavailable to them,” Tounsend tells us.

Ukraine has seen a surge in their surrogacy numbers since larger countries have been forced to ban the practice, but booming business hasn’t been enough to curb some couples concerns about exploitation and treatment of surrogate mothers.

Following the terrifying reports of the exploitative practices of surrogacy industry leaders, many intended parents hesitate to look abroad for their possible options. However, many are left with no choice.

With the rising costs of surrogacy programmes at home, or strict laws that don’t allow for a reliable avenue to pursue such procedures, families aren’t given many options.

The average cost for a surrogacy program in the US starts at around $90,000. Prices continue to rise should patients require multiple IVF attempts or run into other complications.

And that’s only if you live in a state where surrogacy is legal. “Couples from states that do not allow for surrogacy can see an increase in their total costs due to travel arrangements and necessities.” Tounsend reminds us.

For families from such countries as the UK or Australia, travelling to a country like the U.S. for surrogacy is completely out of the question, due to financial constraints.

This leaves these families searching for options that are closer and much less costly. “Ukraine then becomes a much more viable option, because it’s located in mainland Europe, so no specialised visas are required for travel.” Tounsend says.

Flights from the UK to mainland Europe can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of those to the US.

Surrogacy: The Only Choice for Some

Surrogacy in the Ukraine has been strictly regulated since 2000. Laws outlining the rights of intended parents, as well as setting parameters for who is eligible to become a surrogate, were set in place.

Largely due to this legislation, as well as having high standards for medical care, saw Ukraine sweeping up many families who were looking to secure a surrogate outside of their home country. However, these laws can be difficult to regulate properly.

There have been reports for surrogate mothers receiving less than ideal medical care, and being victims of obvious malpractice. One report mentions mothers being treated “like cattle” and mocked by doctors.

While officials stress that this is not the norm, whispers of malpractice and embryo swapping have also been heard, although are still unfounded as of yet.

While it may not be an easy choice to make for many couples, it is one that has provided positive results for many.

Health experts in Ukraine estimate that there are over 2,500 babies born to surrogates each year in their country, which makes them familiar with the practice.

They also offer novel medical techniques and incentives that are not seen in other countries, like an unlimited number of IVF attempts, and no age restrictions regarding gamete supplication from intended parents.

Surrogate mothers that are found eligible are set to earn well above what would be expected from a Ukrainian minimum wage.

However, commercial surrogacy abroad is still not risk free, and hopeful parents are urged to do thorough research before choosing a clinic to continue the procedure with.

Which continues to make the choice a difficult one for families who worry about more than just the financial costs of surrogacy.

“Ukraine surrogacy is just one of the options that we offer prospective parents. There are other avenues available to some couples.

While it’s not the first choice for many, it’s a choice that our clients are extremely satisfied with in the end. Ultimately, our goal is to provide safety and happiness to our clients and our surrogate mothers.

Whatever avenue is the best for all parties involved, is the one we pursue.” Tounsend says.

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A 30-year old mum-of-four who five years ago gave birth to twins as a surrogate mum for her best friend, has landed a major role as Australian Ambassador for Britney Spears’ new lingerie line, Intimate Britney Spears.

Rosie dreamed of being a model since she was a child, and was recently signed to Mint Management modelling agency to represent the brand. And, aside from modelling for several other brands, this superwoman has penned a number of books about her IVF experience.

“It's a pretty crazy amount to fit in,” Rosie told Daily Mail Australia. “I honestly don't think I could have handled all of this in my twenties, but now I think I'm more resilient and can bring something slightly different to the fashion industry.

“My work ethic is stronger than it was then, too. I know what I need to do when I turn up somewhere, and so I come along and just do it.”

Rosie’s story makes her new career all the more extraordinary. With three kids at just 24, she and her husband had built a multi-million dollar business between them. However, it failed and they lost everything, leaving them to wondering how to get their lives back on track.

However, when best friend Lauren asked Rosie to surrogate for her, she agreed. “After giving birth to two surrogate babies and seeing my friend’s face when they were placed in her arms was just magical and it’s something I will never forget,” she writes on her blog.

Unfortunately, soon after giving birth Rosie developed an infection, which left her with scarring on her uterus. Doctors told her that if she wanted another baby, she’s have to do it fast.

“We had to result to IUI and on the third attempt we were pregnant with our fourth baby,” she wrote. “After a very touch and go pregnancy our daughter was born healthy and happy at 37 weeks.”

However, just three weeks later, the infection resurfaced, with devastating results.

“I had started feeling sick with temperatures and continuous bleeding,” says Rosie. “My gynaecologist discovered a blood clot in my uterus and decided to do another operation. I still wasn't getting better though and two operations later it was decided I needed a hysterectomy."

Now, four years later, Rosie is happy and content, and despite her hardships in the past, she feels grateful for what she has.

“We are happy and healthy,” she writes. “I still and always will have issues with my girly bits and varying degrees of daily pain, but it's nothing I can't handle, I'm just thankful to be here. We realised we didn’t need the big house, fancy cars and nice things to be happy as right now we are the happiest and stress free and “brokest” we’ve been in a long time.  We’ve managed to buy a really old, small house full of character with a big backyard; it’s small but it's ours and we are happy.

You go girl! Such a great example that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. It’s so lovely to see good things happening to someone who deserves it.

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