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Ukraine

Adoption, IVF, Surrogacy: COVID-19 Puts New Lives On Hold

Staff watching over a newborn at a hospital in Handan, China, on May 10
Staff watching over a newborn at a hospital in Handan, China, on May 10
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

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."


For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus pandemic from the best, most trusted international news sources — regardless of language or geography. To receive the daily Coronavirus global brief in your inbox, sign up here.

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Economy

Soft Power Or Sportwashing? What's Driving The Mega Saudi Image Makeover Play

Saudi Arabia suddenly now leads the world in golf, continues to attract top European soccer stars, and invests in culture and entertainment... Its "soft power" strategy is changing the kingdom's image through what critics bash as blatant "sportwashing."

Footballer Karim Benzema, in his Real Madrid kit

Karim Benzema during a football match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on June 04, 2023, in Madrid, Spain.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — A major announcement this week caused quite a stir in the world of professional golf. It wouldn't belong in the politics section were it not for the role played by Saudi Arabia. The three competing world circuits have announced their merger, putting an end to the "civil war" in the world of pro golf.

The Chairman of the new entity is Yassir Al-Rumayan, head of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Add to this the fact that one of the major players in the world of golf is Donald Trump – three of the biggest tournaments are held on golf courses he owns – and it's easy to see what's at stake.

In the same week, we learned that two leading French footballers, Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kanté, were to join Saudi club Al-Ittihad, also owned by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. The amount of the transfer is not known, but it is sure to be substantial. There, they will join other soccer stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

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