Surrogacy In Georgia. What You Must Know Now
In this video, Page Provan Director and award-winning surrogacy lawyer, Stephen Page, talks about what you need to know about surrogacy in Georgia now.
G’day, I’m Stephen Page from Page Proven Family and Fertility Lawyers, and I’m talking today about surrogacy changes in the Republic of Georgia.
Now, I’ve had clients who’ve undertaken surrogacy in both Georgias, Georgia Atlanta, which is the home of Coca Cola, amongst others and Delta Airlines, and Georgia which is in the Caucasus, roughly between Russia and Iran. This one is about the second Georgia between Russian and Iran. The Republic of Georgia has been a destination for Australians.
In recent years, in one year at least, over 20 children were born to Australian intended parents in the Republic of Georgia via surrogacy. It’s been a destination that’s open for heterosexual couples, but no longer. The Georgian Health Minister has announced that from one January 2024, surrogacy will not be open to international intended parents in Georgia.
Just stopped, and this will happen by a law that will be presented to the Georgian Parliament and then presumably enacted by the Georgian Parliament. I want to congratulate the Republic of Georgia about the process in which it’s gone about that, namely it’s given six months notice of the intention to have these laws, and that’s quite different to what we’ve seen in other places in the past, India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Mexico, where the change has been imposed and overnight.
So by having notice in place enables intended parents not to be stuck halfway through their journey, but gives them sufficient time to plan their affairs. Now, those who are already going through the journey, my expectation is that they won’t be directly affected, namely if they already have a surrogate pregnant prior to 1 January 2024.
Obviously, those who haven’t had a surrogate pregnant before 1 January 2024 ought to look somewhere else. I understand that there’s some suggestion that their surrogate might go to somewhere like Armenia, a place where there is no regulation of surrogacy, I would strongly urge anyone considering that, just don’t.
Just don’t, don’t go into a Wild West or cowboy lands where you may not, in fact, be recognised as parents. Don’t give yourself that grief. Plan the process now to look at somewhere else. You might say, well, why has Georgia done this? Why has it done this now? I think there are a number of reasons. The first is that back in 2021, there was the second surrogacy baby farm in the world, if we turn our minds back to 2014, there was the first baby farm.
You may remember the baby Gammy saga where we had a couple from West Australia, the Farnell’s, who had two children via surrogacy with the Mrs. Chanbua in Thailand. They had two children, Piper, a girl, and Gammy, a boy.
Piper turned out healthy, Gammy was born with Down syndrome, and after the child was born, Gammy was withheld by Mrs. Chanbua in Thailand, Mrs. Farnell had to go home empty handed, or at least empty he handed it of Gammy, they took Piper home and then the world’s media took up the story, and we all learned that Mr. Farnell was a convicted pedophile, multiple times over, and he hadn’t told the clinic.
Evidently, the clinic hadn’t asked. Mrs. Chanbua certainly didn’t know, and nor did Mr. and Mrs. Farnell know that Mrs. Chanbua had put her age up improperly, she hadn’t told the clinic, and nor had the clinic asked. So with that outlier case, one might think, understandably, that the Thai government and Parliament passed laws to greatly restrict surrogacy in Thailand.
But that wasn’t the driver. When I was talking to journalists, and I talked to many journalists during that period, the driver by the Thai government was the Thai baby farmer because at the same time, news broke, the same clinic, of course, had facilitated the son of a Japanese dot com billionaire to have 16 children all at the one time using a variety of Thai and Cambodian surrogates.
The Thai government held on to these children at first because it was concerned properly about trafficking of the women and trafficking of the children. Ultimately, a court in Thailand held that it was appropriate for the children to be united with their father, and off they went. But because of that case and reinforced by baby Gammy, suddenly Thailand had all these laws concerning surrogacy, greatly restricting the practice.
The second baby farmer was reported from Georgia in 2021. A couple decided to have lots of children, and they had about 20 children all in a year. They had 16 nannies, from recollection, and the wife was a stripper from Russia, who was on holiday in Georgia, the husband was a bus magnate. He owned his bus line or all these buses in Turkey.
They met in Georgia, fell in love, and then decided to have all his children, have an instant family and he had the money to do it. Well, all that came to pass, the news broke. Subsequently, he has been arrested for tax evasion and held in custody in Turkey, I don’t know the outcome of those charges, but I worry for those children.
After that news broke of the baby farm in Georgia, one would think that there might have been action by clinics there to tone down what they were doing because, of course, they got a social licence to operate, or there might have been action by the Georgian government to take action, neither happened. Covid came and went, the Ukraine War started, the demand for surrogacy in Georgia went through the roof.
Ninety odd % of the work undertaken by Georgian clinics was by foreigners. One could well imagine Georgians who wanted to go to their local IVF clinic and seek help to discover that, well, we can’t offer you help at the moment because we’re out of capacity. Why? Because they’re doing all this work for foreigners.
One could well imagine in those circumstances, the Georgian government deciding, well, there is a way to provide capacity, and that is to stop foreigners using surrogates in Georgia. So we’ll see how this plays out, as I said, I think it’s really good that the Georgian government’s given notice.
We’ll see how the Georgian clinics react, whether they will seek to lobby the government to change its mind, or they’ll move elsewhere, time will tell. If you have embryos in Georgia and you’re thinking of getting them out, please contact me. I have a view about how that can happen and how you can undertake surrogacy ethically somewhere else, hopefully at not too high a price in today’s challenged world.