Doctor Diana Obidniak is a fertility specialist and medical director for the International Surrogacy Agency (ISA) group.
Here, she reveals how the process of foreign surrogacy works, and why her agency is open to families all shapes, sizes and sexualities...
Surrogacy is legal in Russia: is there a real legal experience of the process there?
Yes, indeed. There is a legal framework as well as documents and regulations, where everything is clearly determined. There are lawyers who specialize in international law in the field of reproductive technologies. It is the high level of reproductive technologies and the absolute legitimacy of surrogacy that attracts many prospective parents to Russia from Europe and the UK, where this opportunity to build a family is often legally prohibited. The statistics show that every year at least 22,000 children are born with the help of surrogate mothers in Russia. The first program was implemented 25 years ago, so we have a lot of experience.
Do prospective parents choose a surrogate mother in Russia themselves?
Some people do this - it's not forbidden - but this path is quite risky and difficult in the sense of guarantees. Therefore, agencies are usually engaged in the selection process and are in constant contact with parents, taking into account all their wishes, worries, and special family characteristics.
There is an important point of ethics in Russian legislation, which is that the surrogate mother cannot be the egg donor: They must be two different women. The law requires this in order to exclude the genetic link between the child and the woman who gave birth, reducing any possible emotional and legal risks. So we choose two women for each program: a donor who will give an egg for fertilization, and a surrogate mother who will carry your child. Both pass a full range of medical and psychological tests, and lawyers sign contracts with both of them. Now you understand why most parents ask the agency to take care of their program!
What does your agency, the International Surrogacy Agency (ISA), offer prospective parents?
We partially talked about it in the previous question, about how the process can be tough: selecting two appropriate women; organising comprehensive medical and psychological tests; providing all the nuances of the legal side of the issue, from setting the contracts to the receipt of all required documents to the newborn (especially in the registration of a single man as a parent of the child). It’s a huge number of activities that must all be properly executed. ISA is a full-service agency: we deal with everything at all stages of the program, and even after the birth of the baby. For example, the child's travel documents and even help with the registration of citizenship in the country of residence through our partners. In other words, parents contact us once, and we provide them with comprehensive assistance and support in building their family. There are not many such agencies yet, because it requires a truly professional team of specialists from various fields: doctors, lawyers, coordinators, psychologists, managers, logisticians.
And, of course, we are proud to say that 70% of the protocols for our surrogate mothers end in pregnancy, which is high compared to world standards. Our lawyers also study the nuances of the legislation of each country where single men and same-sex couples come to us. Few agencies treat any all families with such respect and cordiality. We do. We want more happy families in the world and we want to be involved in this. We are proud and infinitely happy that we have helped more than two hundred very different families from all over the world, including the UK, USA, Canada, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries, to hug their babies.
Our advantages are baby Guarantee Programs, IVF expertise (time-lapse, IR-witness system, PGT), doctors and coordinators speak your native language, no waiting list for a Surrogate, strict selection criteria, unlimited access to your Surrogate, convenient solution for payment in installments; legal support of all stages.
How is the agency's selection process for donors and surrogates work?
We have our own database of female donors and surrogate mothers. There are well-developed medical, psychological and legal selection protocols. We are in very close contact with intending parents: we send photos and profiles of donors, take into account their wishes even regarding the appearance of donors and the psychotype of the surrogate. We have had cases when we selected a suitable surrogate and donor in just one day! The maximum selection period took one month.
Where do prospective parents begin if they’re thinking of using your service?
First you need to write or call us. We will arrange a free consultation with our coordinator to understand all the details of your family situation, your medical, psychological, and legal needs.
To get a consultation, fill out the form on our website. Within 1-3 days, our coordinator will contact you: in messengers, by mail or by phone (where it is convenient for you).