Concerns over Ukraine-born twins
A High Court judge has raised concerns after being told how twins were born as a result of a British couple in their early 60s entering in to a £22,000 surrogacy arrangement with a clinic in strife-torn Ukraine.
Mrs Justice Theis said the twins were born in Ukraine, where "commercial surrogacy" was permitted, in the autumn of 2013, around the time civil unrest began.
She said the couple, who had been married for nearly 40 years, were in the Ukraine at the time of the births but their return to the UK with the twins had been delayed for six months.
The surrogate mother had given consent to the couple taking the children, now 18 months old, to the UK, and to the youngsters becoming naturalised British citizens.
But there had been no contact for more than a year, despite attempts to locate her, said the judge.
Mrs Justice Theis said the case was an example of the difficulties which could arise if specialist legal advice was not taken by people entering in to foreign surrogacy arrangements.
Detail of the case emerged today in a ruling by the judge.
The judge said she had given her approval to the couple becoming the twins' legal parents after analysing issues at a hearing in a family court in Canterbury, Kent.
She did not identify the couple or give the sex of the children.
She said the couple, who met the surrogate mother twice, spent many years trying to conceive a child of their own - and tried IVF more than 20 years ago.
They were advised to consider surrogacy following a number of IVF procedures in the UK and abroad, and carried out extensive research before entering into an arrangement with a surrogacy clinic in Ukraine called Renaissance Inc.
"This case provides another example of the difficulties that can be incurred if specialist legal advice is not taken before entering into a foreign surrogacy arrangement," said Mrs Justice Theis.
"A feature of this case is that the agreement between the applicants and the clinic in Ukraine involved an 'all- inclusive package'.
"There was one payment made under an agreement which did not limit the number of embryo transfers and covered all aspects of the arrangement."
She added: "A consequence of this type of agreement is that it was not possible to establish whether the eggs used were donor or the surrogate mother's eggs. Further, there is a lack of clarity about the payments made to the surrogate mother."
The judge said the case highlighted the need for parents to establish what the financial arrangements were with a surrogate mother and to meet the surrogate mother and "establish clear lines of communication".