"Without Respect to one's Belly: to give birth to and immediately give away a child - is this possible?"
an article by Rosjurconsulting Director General Konstantin Svitnev, legal expert with the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology

"ART Regulation in Russia and Elsewhere"
IV International Congress, Current Assisted Reproductive Technologies Issues: Problems and Solutions

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23/05/2011

Grandmother of Four Surrogate-Born Children Fighting to Be Registered As Their Mother

A unique (not only for Russia but for the whole world) reproductive program has been recently finished in Moscow. In January 2011, an elderly Russian woman became a grandmother of four surrogate-born grandchildren who were born three years after the death of their genetic father.
In May 2005, her 23-year-old son Michael has got a terrible diagnosis - acute leukemia. Before the chemotherapy treatment, he arranged cryopreservation of several portions of his sperm (which is a common-place in cases like this). He felt better, but it turned out that the improvement was only temporary. The disease progressed; the doctors recommended expensive marrow transplantation in order to save his life. After the surgery, his condition got even worse, and after three infinitely heavy months, on January 26, 2008 the young man died. He was only 26 years old.

Michael dreamt of having children and repeatedly told his mother of his desire to become a father. As a child, he, like many other children, lacked his father's care and attention. As teenager, he repeatedly said that he would never abandon his children and will take care of them at all times. During his illness the young man dreamed of procreation and kept saying that the main values in life are family and children.

Shortly before his death, Misha gave his mother a kind of "reproductive testament" – an authorization for usage of his genetic material, so that his child will come into the world. Michael was somehow convinced that it would be a girl and even chose her name - Mary, by name of the Virgin, whose icon has always been placed at his bedside. He had no idea that the by will of Divine Providence and the efforts of his mother he will really become a father - and of many children.
Immediately after the death of her son, Michael’s mother felt like the sun had darkened; she was not able to hear or see anything of what was happening around her. But suddenly it seemed she was enlightened from above - she thought of the precious glass-tubes where a spark of new life glimmered. The mission of her life was now the birth of grandchildren living continuance of her son, and procreation of their family line. The idea that perhaps not everything was yet over; that perhaps her home will be filled with children's laughter again helped her survive the loss.

The situation was complicated by the fact that Michael did not have time to start a family due to his young age and circumstances - the terrible diagnosis put paid to his hopes when the young man was only 23. The only chance for him to become a father (and for his mother to see long-awaited grandchildren), even after his death, was a gestational surrogacy program in conjunction with oocyte donation. The task was to find two women - a donor oocyte, ready to sacrifice her egg cells, and a surrogate mother who would carry the future child.

The only wish of the intended grandmother about the future oocyte donor was that the girl was smart. As they say, but deliver us from evil. So, not wanting to tempt fate, she entrusted the final selection of the donor to doctors.

Since the chances of success were very poor, wanting to secure herself against failure, the woman decided to use the services of two surrogate mothers. You can not imagine what she came through on the first ultrasound test to learn that each of her surrogates bears twins! Cases of simultaneous pregnancy occurrence with two surrogate mothers are relatively rare, and even if pregnancy occurs there are always risks of spontaneous reduction, non-viable pregnancy or simple miscarriage – it is very difficult to carry twins. But the fate was kind to the future favored grandmother - both of the girls delivered their “precious cargo” without much trouble, and in January in one of Moscow's maternity clinics four babies were born, two of them just two days after the others - three boys and one girl, who, of course, following her father’s will has been named Mary.

The joy of the newfound grandmother is only gloomed by the fact that she has not yet been able to obtain birth certificates for her grandchildren - one of registry offices in Moscow denied her to get four infant Russian citizens registered, referring to the fact that allegedly only married couples are allowed to take advantage of surrogacy services in this country.

In accordance with Russian law, the woman has an unconditional right to be recorded as mother into the children’s’ birth certificates. This is supported by numerous decisions of various courts, which have always been there to protect the interests of single people willing to become parents through surrogacy. It should be also the case with a single woman who took advantage of a surrogacy program in order to become a mother. The first two "surrogate" grandmothers in Russia - Ekaterina Zakharova and Natalia Klimova – acted the same way.

She also has the right to settle the provenance of children and paternity of her son through the court’s decision and become a guardian of her grandchildren. In this case, the field "mother" on the birth certificate will remain empty. But the "mother-grandmother" did not want this field in the first document of her grandchildren was blank.

The power of attorney to represent interests of the first in human’s history surrogate grandmother with many children in court has been traditionally given to the law firm Rosjurconsulting.

 “I’m happy”, says the newfound grandmother. “I wish only one thing to all the women who find themselves in the situation I’ve experienced – don’t you lose hope to get grandchildren after you have lost your son or daughter. God and science to help you!”


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