The inability for people to travel during the COVID-19 crisis is creating a 'very stressful' situation for couples involved in the surrogacy process, according to an Irish solicitor.
Tracy Horan, a solicitor specialising in surrogacy and fertility law, says post can't even be sent to Ukraine - one of the countries where Irish couples can avail of legal commercial surrogacy - at the moment.
Ms Horan spoke to Moncrieff about the current challenges facing Irish couples.
She explained: “We are working with the [Department of Foreign Affairs], and the DFA are helping.
"In certain circumstances they will be able to assist us - they’re doing everything in their power, and there have been open channels between solicitors and the intended parents as to what we hope to do for those parents to reunite them with their babies when they’re born.
"All they want is to be there when their baby is being born."
Ms Horan said the she has attempted to send post to Ukraine from Ireland, but that's not even possible at the moment.
She observed: “It’s not only getting people in the Ukraine now… there isn’t even post going into the Ukraine.
"That has ramifications for surrogacy proceedings that are going on at the moment in Ireland."
Amid the travel restrictions, BBC has reported that 50 surrogate newborns in Ukraine are being looked after in a large dormitory-style nursery.
Ms Horan said that's a situation that could face Irish parents if they can't get into the country to bring their newborn babies homes.
She noted that different clinics are taking different approaches to care for the babies once they arrive during the current crisis.
She explained: “I would be speaking to the clinics in the Ukraine directly as to what is in place for these babies when they’re born, if their parents can’t get there.
"[Some] Ukraine clinics have been on to us to send over provisions for the unborn children - we’ve been asked to send over nappies, food, baby clothes… to provide for those children when they’re born."
However, it's not clear if it would be possible to send such packages to Ukraine given the current postage restrictions.
She noted that Ukraine is popular for Irish couples as it's more affordable than other countries offering commercial surrogacy services.
She said: "Usually the couples have been through multiple rounds of IVF and have very little finance at the end of it.
"If you go through surrogacy in the Ukraine, it would be much cheaper in comparison to the US or Canada - in the US you’re talking about €120,000 minimum to have a baby… Ukraine is around €50,000… it was much cheaper, but of course it’s going up because there’s a huge, huge demand for it.
“For the Ukraine… you have to be married, heterosexual, and use the male [parent’s] sperm. A DNA test has to be done in the Ukraine to establish that link - [then] it is an Irish baby that comes home on an Irish emergency travel document.
"The father has to get to Ukraine - you just can't get out [otherwise], it's not possible."