Temporary financial supports have been requested to help the parents of children born to surrogate mothers in Ukraine unable to travel to the country due to the deteriorating security situation.
Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney, who has been assisting families, said some unable to travel are working out arrangements for nannies to look after their children in the interim period, at a probable cost of about $100 (€88) per day.
She has raised the issue with Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, seeking support given the unpredictable duration of the crisis.
In total, 14 children were expected to be born to surrogate mothers before May. On Monday a fifth Irish family is expected home with their new born child. Three others returned over the weekend.
However, Senator Seery-Kearney explained that for some, the extremely difficult decision not to travel to the country had become unavoidable amid reports of an imminent Russian invasion.
“It’s absolutely devastating. Who wants to be in a separate country to their child if their child is in a place where there is a risk of conflict?” she said.
In normal circumstances, parents would travel out to the country at 36 weeks to take part in the birth.
“So it runs counter to everything for parents not to be there to hold their babies at the moment of birth.”
Given the dynamic nature of events in Ukraine, it is still hoped tensions could reduce to the point of averting conflict. In the meantime, however, expectant parents have been thrown into a period of uncertainty around travel. More babies are due to be born to surrogate mothers in the months after May.
Meanwhile, Senator Seery-Kearney, who had been working closely with the Irish Families Through Surrogacy group praised Department of Foreign Affairs officials for doing everything possible to expedite complex legal requirements in the surrogacy process.
High level political involvement is also thought to have played it part although details remain vague given the sensitivities of the situation.
Senator Seery-Kearney stressed that despite the focus on Irish families, everybody was acutely aware of the unfolding crisis enveloping the country of the surrogate mothers who live there.
“We never ever lost sight of that. This is about Ukraine and their lives and their families and these are surrogates who have a fantastic relationship with the Irish families,” she said.
On Sunday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said officials had been working to assist Irish couples.
“Our team in the embassy in Kyiv and our consular team in Dublin have literally been working through the night with families, to try to ensure that families who have been involved in surrogacy over the last few days can get home safely,” he told Newstalk radio.
He said that although the advice was still not to travel, authorities would nevertheless work with families to “unite parents with children that are being born”.
A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is “working intensively to facilitate the early departure of children born through a surrogacy arrangement in Ukraine, in light of the current worrying security situation in the country.
“We remain in direct contact with the families concerned – providing support and advice to each of them relevant to their particular situation.”
He said official advice not to travel to the country at the current time has also been “strongly reiterated”.