Due to restrictive Chinese laws on childbirth, American surrogate mothers are becoming an increasingly popular choice for Chinese citizens who are having problems conceiving.
Although there is an underground surrogacy network set up in China, authorities have been strict in their efforts to enforce their laws, making it dangerous and difficult to successfully bear children using Chinese surrogate mothers, according to CNNMoney.
While American surrogacy is expensive, costing upwards of $150,000 per child — of which $35-45,000 goes to the mother — it’s being chosen more frequently by Chinese citizens who desire parenthood. John Weltman of Boston-based agency Circle Surrogacy said:
“I’ve never seen anything like what I’ve seen with the Chinese. It’s like an explosion.”
Extraordinary Conceptions, a surrogacy center that helps clients meet with doctors, said they receive upwards of 10 inquiries from China a month, and around 40% of their clients are Chinese. Mario Caballero, the center’s executive director, said:
“It’s like anything else — once somebody discovers something, and word spreads, people realize there is another option.”
Dr. David Smotrich, a physician who has worked with hundreds of Chinese patients, said that there are a number of medical reasons that lead families to surrogacy. He said that some women have medical conditions where it is unsafe to become pregnant, and other women are infertile. He said that the the pollution in China has led to increased infertility rates, and gay couples are also becoming more invested in the idea of using a surrogate mother to have a child.
Another incentive for Chinese families to use American surrogate mothers is the birthright citizenship granted to their surrogate-born children. Additionally, the child can sponsor his or her parents for a green card upon turning 21.
From door to door, the overseas surrogacy process usually takes around 15 months and varies in price depending on necessary medical treatment, although the procedure usually costs anywhere from $130,000 to $150,000. Some couples are able to use their own egg and sperm, while others seek donors because they are infertile, which can add to the cost.
Chinese parents have to secure a United States passport and a birth certificate before they are able to take the child back to China.
Pregnancy customs in both countries can also produce stumbling blocks. While expecting Chinese mothers are supposed to rest and eat traditional Chinese cuisine, American mothers usually continue to work, exercise and travel.
While transferring X and Y chromosomes overseas may seem extreme, many American mothers see beauty in giving a family the opportunity to raise children. Audra Anderson, a surrogate mother, told CNNMoney:
“I got to see the family I made and oh! The twinkle in [the biological father’s] eye looking at his little girl. There is nothing better than that … you did it! You made a family.”