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Tampa non-profit working to rescue Ukrainian surrogate mothers

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Posted at 10:27 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 23:15:26-04

TAMPA, FL. — The Tampa-based rescue group Project Dynamo has been working to pull people out of harm's way in Ukraine for weeks.

More recently, they've been getting requests to help Ukrainian surrogate mothers and even several babies born via Ukrainian surrogates.

"A lot of the surrogate mothers, they tend to be, for whatever reason, in the south and the east which is where a lot of the violence and fighting is," Co-founder Bryan Stern said.

Stern is on the ground in Ukraine and says he's working to keep surrogate mothers in the country in a safe house.

"Surrogacy in the surrounding areas is either not welcomed or illegal," he said.

Roia Barrios is a Tamp Bay lawyer with expertise in reproductive law. She tells ABC Action News that evacuating surrogates out of Ukraine right now is leading to some legal issues for the intended parents of those babies, like this.

"If they're evacuated to Poland, the surrogate will be the legal mother of the child and then the intended parent will have to adopt the child that's theirs," she said.

It's a problem Barrios says we will likely continue to see more of.

"It's estimated that there's about 2500 people who go to the Ukraine every year for surrogacy," she said.

Back in Ukraine, Stern said war is also leading to tricky dynamics when it comes to getting those babies to their parents.

"For the surrogates who have had their babies, do you know what the hand-off process is? Like I can't imagine having to try and do that exchange with the baby in a warzone," ABC Action News Reporter Rochelle Alleyne said.

"Uh, we're actually doing that right now as I talk to you," Stern said. "I have an American family in my car as I talk to you with an American baby in my car as I talk to you, that we picked up on the other side of the country about 13 hours ago, 14 hours ago."

Rescue efforts underway for Ukrainian surrogate mothers

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He said those families are driving usually driven to the Polish border where they can hopefully fly home with their babies. Right now, Project Dynamo has requests to rescue at least 100 other surrogate mothers, in addition to their other rescue requests.

For more information on Project Dynamo and how you can help, click here.

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