The Department of Foreign Affairs is working to try to fast-track emergency travel documents for Irish babies born by surrogacy in Ukraine to help couples bring children to the State more quickly.
The Government has advised against all travel to Ukraine due to heightened tensions over Russia’s build-up of military troops around the country.
The department is in direct contact with Irish couples who have travelled or who are planning to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes.
Ukraine is a popular option among Irish couples seeking a child by a surrogate mother through private clinics. There are 14 Irish children due to be born there between now and May.
The process of registering the birth of the child can typically take three to four weeks, with the Irish parents and the surrogate mother required to travel to the Irish embassy to obtain a birth certificate. A DNA test is required from the father to verify the baby is eligible for citizenship.
Dublin surrogacy solicitor Tracy Horan said that issuing emergency travel documents in advance to Irish citizens born through surrogacy could reduce the wait by two weeks.
“We are trying to take DNA samples to try to short-circuit all of that. If we can short-circuit that in any way, it would be hugely beneficial,” she said.
Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery-Kearney, who is helping affected couples, said the department was looking at ways of speeding up the process to allow couples return more quickly.
“Shortcuts cannot be taken on some of the process because it is a necessary for the constitutional protections of the child when they come home,” she said.
“They are looking at perhaps some of that documentation could be done in advance while we are waiting on birth of the babies there.”
She said the department was taking a “realistic view” that parents were going to travel because they are “deeply concerned for their babies”.
“They are naturally very anxious. No one willingly goes into a war zone but no one willingly stays apart from their newborn baby and leaves them to the care of others,” she said.
The department is assessing the various surrogacy cases, where the mothers are located and the due dates, and the documentation required to see if paperwork can be expedited.
“We will continue to provide support to each of these individuals and families with advice relevant to their particular situation,” said a department spokesman.
“Every case is different and there are a number of external factors that can impact how long families need to remain in Ukraine following the baby’s birth, including the length of time it takes to obtain vital documents such as the baby’s birth certificate.”
Ms Seery-Kearney said that surrogacy clinics were also asking Ukrainian mothers if they could travel to give birth in Lviv which is considered safer than the capital Kyiv and eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine's ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, told the Oireachtas foreign affairs committee that Russia's actions around Ukraine are part of a wider plan "to seriously destabilise Europe" and, in a worst-case scenario, may be trying to draw borders in Europe by force.
“The future of the global security architecture is being decided in Ukraine,” she said.
She said Ukraine appreciated Ireland’s support as a “reliable partner” during an unprecedented and challenging time for her country.