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Teddy bear in a war zone


War babies: the business of managing human emotions

IbyIMD+ Published 15 June 2022 in Leadership • 12 min read

The Russian invasion has disrupted Ukraine’s $1.5 billion surrogacy industry and posed logistical and ethical challenges for agencies operating in the country. Susan Kersch-Kibler, founder of the Delivering Dreams International Surrogacy Agency, describes how she is managing to keep her operations running.


As the founder of an international surrogacy agency, I am in the business of bringing life into the world. Since the war broke out in Ukraine in late February, I’ve been working to ensure that none of the women who work for and with me dice with death.

I set up the Delivering Dreams International Surrogacy Agency six years ago. Having worked as a real estate developer in Russia and Ukraine in my 20s, I had deep ties to the region. When my husband and I struggled with infertility, we adopted our son from an orphanage in Kharkiv. After this experience, I founded an agency helping couples grow their families through adoption and, when the rules around international adoption tightened, I moved into surrogacy.

While nothing prepares you for running a baby business in a war zone, the regional expertise and contacts I gained when developing real estate to rehouse hundreds of families after the collapse of the Soviet Union have helped me navigate the logistical hurdles of transferring women, sperm, eggs and embryos to safety.

I have also learnt to manage emotions and expectations, to turn away potential clients who may be too hard to work with, and I have certainly found that war brings out the best – and worst – in people.


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