Northern Ireland

Ukraine: ‘Passport secured’ for surrogate child of Co Down couple

The war in Ukraine has left the McDonnells unable to return to the north with their child
The war in Ukraine has left the McDonnells unable to return to the north with their child

A couple from Northern Ireland have secured a passport for their baby who was born to a surrogate in Ukraine, but could have to wait up to 10 days for the document to arrive.

Jaunty Beau’s parents, Mary and Peter McDonnell from Portaferry in Co Down, have been in Ukraine and trying to bring him home since his birth on January 31.

It has been reported that a British passport for the baby has now been approved, but it could take up to 10 days to reach Ukraine.

The pair began their surrogacy journey prior to the start of Russia’s invasion.

According to the UK Foreign Office, it is in communication with the family and offering assistance to help them.

The McDonnells told BBC News that following the death of their 16-year-old daughter Ellie in 2020, they had been looked into surrogacy.

They currently live in Portaferry on a farm with their 15-year-old son Max.

Ellie had been involved in a farm accident the previous year and, after the family thought she had recovered, died in her sleep from an epileptic fit.

The couple decided to pursue surrogacy and flew to Ukraine in August 2021 for medical appointments and embryo creation.

The embryos were removed from the surrogacy facility when Russia invaded Ukraine but the couple were called last year to discuss the possibility of resuming the process.

The embryos were successfully planted in the surrogate and the couple travelled to Kyiv to see their child, Jaunty Beau, being born on January 31.

The couple spoke about having to update their wills and guardian forms for their son in case they did not return from Ukraine, describing the ordeal as scary.

The couple are currently stuck in Kyiv as their baby boy did not have a passport, with their 15-year-old son Max having to stay at home and help on the family farm.

It is understood that after the couple spoke about their experience this morning, the passport office contacted them to arrange an emergency meeting to expedite a meeting that had been scheduled for March 13.

It should arrive in Ukraine in around 10 days and then parents and child will be able to travel home to Northern Ireland.

Earlier today, First Minister Michelle O’Neill and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly said they would be contacting the Home Office on behalf of the family.

The McDonnells also described how their son had to be rushed to hospital shortly after he was born, saying he stopped breathing and turned blue, with doctors fearing there may be something wrong with his brain.