Some are crying in their cots; others are being cradled or bottle-fed by nannies. These newborns are not in the nursery of a maternity hospital, they are lined up side by side in two large reception rooms of the improbably named Hotel Venice on the outskirts of Kyiv, protected by outer walls and barbed wire.
They are the children of foreign couples born to Ukrainian surrogate mothers at the Kyiv-based BioTexCom Centre for Human Reproduction, the largest surrogacy clinic in the world. They’re stranded in the hotel because their biological parents have not been able to travel in or out of Ukraine since borders closed in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anxious parents check on the children they have not yet met via video calls, and others have sent audio recordings of their voices to soothe the children
BioTexCom released video footage from the hotel in mid-May to highlight the heartbreaking dilemma for parents and to lobby for an easing of border closures.