State speeds up repatriation process for Irish surrogate babies from Ukraine

Department fast-tracks paperwork for return of newborns amid security crisis

The Department of Foreign Affairs has made temporary arrangements that will allow Irish couples travelling to Ukraine to collect babies born by surrogacy to bring them home more quickly.

The changes, introduced in response to fears over escalating military tensions between Russia and Ukraine, will mean that the parents of babies born in Lviv in western Ukraine will not have to travel to the Irish embassy in the capital Kyiv to collect the children's travel documents

Lviv, which is located near the border with Poland, is regarded as a safer location in the event of a Russian invasion into Ukraine across the eastern border.

Campaign group Irish Families Through Surrogacy said that the department’s move should shorten the exit process for the couples and their babies, and expedite the journey home for Irish couples with their new-born babies by “a number of days”.

The group was briefed on the changes by Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney, who has been liaising the department and working with the affected Irish couples.

“In light of the current security situation in Ukraine and in consultation with other relevant departments, the DFA has temporarily made a number of revisions to the documentary process required to issue a travel document for children born through a surrogacy arrangement,” a spokeswoman for the department said in response to queries from The Irish Times.

“The department is in direct contact with all families with surrogacy arrangements in Ukraine and will continue to provide support to each of them and advice relevant to their particular situation.”

Travel documents

Ukraine is a popular country for Irish couples seeking a child by surrogacy through private clinics. The process of registering the birth of the child can normally take up to four weeks with the Irish parents and the surrogate mother required to travel to the Irish embassy to obtain travel documents. A DNA test is required from the father to verify the baby is eligible for citizenship.

About a dozen babies are due to be born by surrogacy in the period to May, in addition to one birth expected this week.

One baby, Luke Moynihan, was born to a surrogate mother in Lviv on Tuesday with his Co Kerry parents Dermot and Dorothy arriving into the Ukrainian city on Thursday to collect him.

"The accommodations agreed by the state bodies involved and coordinated by the DFA are all technical. They are related to some of the additional documentation that is required for court procedures in Ireland following their return," said Irish Families Through Surrogacy.

The group said that the arrangements are subject to constant review.

“While every case is unique, the general effect of today’s arrangements will be to shorten the process by a number of days,” it said.

“We ask that should the situation escalate further, the DFA will further expedite the exit process while ensuring the integrity of the process is not compromised and that the safeguards to protect the child, the surrogate mother and parents remain adhered to.”

The group said that it was grateful to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and his department "for their responsiveness to these families."

The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Irish nationals not to travel to Ukraine because of the escalating security situation and urged all Irish citizens in the country to leave.