We must remember the many lives lost to coronavirus. But we should also not forget the fate of many new lives that have been left up in the air as travel bans and strained health care systems have disrupted plans for surrogacy, adoption and in vitro fertilization around the world.
Surrogacy: Some 100 surrogacy babies are stuck in reproductive clinics around Ukraine, which banned foreigners entering the country in March as the COVID-19 infections spread.
*Reproduction clinic BioTexCom, which is managing 46 surrogacy baby relationships, posted a video online urging the government to work with embassies to allow travel exemptions.
*The expectant parents in this global industry come from France, Germany, Argentina, the U.S. and several other countries around the world. Some pregnant surrogates are stuck in isolation away from their families and some who were able to get into Ukraine before the lockdown are now in legal limbo, unable to return to their home countries.
*Human rights activists say the pandemic has shed light on an often exploitive industry. Melissa Brissman, an attorney running the surrogacy agency Reproductive Possibilities, told NBC News that around 200 couples are currently in surrogacy limbo. "When a blanket rule is made quickly, you get all these unanticipated problems," said Brissman. "These babies have parents ready to take care of them. It doesn't have to be this way."
Adoption: International adoptions have similarly been put on hold, with children in countries ranging from Chad to Morocco to China unable to unite with their new families.
*New parents in countries including India and Cameroon are also stuck in lockdowns, with their children lacking documentation to travel with them.
*In many coronavirus hotspots in the U.S., including New York and New Orleans, group homes are understaffed and foster families are hesitant to risk infection.
*On a hopeful note, some areas have seen an increased interest in people wanting to foster and adopt during this time, including Saskatchewan, which was the first district in Canada to provide online foster training. Closed family courts also aren't stopping adoptions, with some ceremonies in the U.S. taking place over Zoom.
IVF: With nonessential medical procedures shut down, women around the world have also had to stop in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.
*In Japan, which has one of the lowest population growth rates in the world, health experts worry that delayed IVF combined with fears around raising children in a pandemic will decrease the birth rate, The Straits Timesreports.
*With the delicate fertility drug cycle, many worry they have lost their chance at becoming parents, despite having often already spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatments. In France, where treatments for thousands of women have been halted, some estimate there will be a rush on IVF treatments after the pandemic is contained.
*Virginie Rio, the founder of the BAMP Collective that advocates for IVF patients, told French Slate, "When we hear that infertility treatment is not vital, we forget the reality for the couples concerned: having a child is often a fundamental life project for them."
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