FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT investigates surrogacy exploits in the Ukraine

Foreign Correspondent
Source: ABC


Ukraine is the new ‘go-to’ destination for couples desperate to be parents. But our investigation uncovers an industry out of control that exploits surrogate mothers and leaves babies abandoned. 

With international surrogacy now banned in Thailand and India, a thriving industry has sprung up in Ukraine, attracting couples from around the world, including Australia.

But how much do would-be parents really know about the business which delivers their baby?

In Motherland, Europe correspondent Samantha Hawley goes behind the slick surrogacy websites and glossy brochures to expose the industry’s dark underbelly.

In a 6-month investigation, Foreign Correspondent meets those caught up in Ukraine’s baby business and uncovers an industry with few rules and fewer scruples.

The new parents

“It was a reckless decision to make, because we didn’t have all the facts,” says English woman Kate who turned to surrogacy after an illness left her unable to have a child.

When the birth of her baby boy went badly, Kate couldn’t get him the urgent medical help he needed. She realised she was out of her depth. Now she worries about the long-term health effects on her baby.

The surrogate mother

“They don’t treat you as a human being,” says one birth mother, who signed up as a surrogate to feed her family after the war with Russia left her homeless.

To earn a small fee, she endured forced terminations, caesareans and callous treatment at the hands of her agency. “Surrogate mothers…we’re just a flow of incubators,” she says.

The abandoned child

We track down a little girl living in a children’s home outside Kiev. She’s been rejected by her American parents and is now stateless and an orphan.

This is a common story, says Ukraine’s Children’s Ombudsman, who has reports of at least ten children left behind by the parents and agencies who ‘commissioned’ them.

“This is an immoral business,” says the Ombudsman. “It does harm.”

The businessman

And we put hard questions to the owner of one of Ukraine’s biggest surrogacy agencies, a man who’s facing charges of child-trafficking and tax avoidance.

Join us for this gripping and gut-wrenching tale.

Motherland airs on ABC TV at 8pm AEST Tuesday 20th August and again on Friday 23rd August at 1.30pm. It can also be seen on ABC NEWS channel on Wednesday 21st at 5:30am, Saturday 24th at 9.30pm & Sunday 25th at 5.30pm, plus anytime on ABC iview.

Foreign Correspondent: Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 8pm AEST