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Chinese Couples Turning to American Surrogate Moms

  • Shannon Van Sant

FILE - Tony Jiang poses with his three children at his house in Shanghai September 16, 2013. In December 2010, Jiang, a Shanghai businessman and his wife welcomed a daughter, born in California to an American surrogate he calls "my Amanda".

FILE - Tony Jiang poses with his three children at his house in Shanghai September 16, 2013. In December 2010, Jiang, a Shanghai businessman and his wife welcomed a daughter, born in California to an American surrogate he calls "my Amanda".

Shanghai resident Tony Jiang and his wife Cherry have three children - all born in the United States to an American surrogate mother. Their daughter and twins were born in California. “The elder girl is now three years old," he told VOA. "The younger twins are now 13 months.”

The Jiangs are part of China’s booming business of families seeking American women to bear their children. Although surrogacy is illegal in China, agencies are now connecting Chinese couples with Americans who will bear their children for a fee.

The Jiangs had turned twice to domestic surrogates through military hospitals, which can legally perform the procedure. But the efforts were unsuccessful, so they contacted a surrogacy agency in the United States. There, they connected with Amanda, a California resident who prefers to only give her first name. She gave birth to all three of the Jiang children.

“Cherry was actually in the room with me when Nicole was born, and she actually got to witness the birth, and see Nicole come into this world," she said. "And she was so ecstatic, and she was crying, and she was just so happy.”

Fertility options with benefits

China’s relaxation last year of its one child policy, which allows couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child, has led families to seek fertility options. But a regulation under the Ministry of Health bans surrogacy procedures at most Chinese hospitals.

So increasing numbers of wealthy Chinese couples are seeking fertility options in the United States, a decision that comes with many benefits.

Under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, anyone born in the United States has a right to citizenship. U.S. citizens may also apply for green cards for their parents when they turn 21.

So-called “designer babies” draw interest from some Chinese couples who favor eggs from tall, American or European donors. Gender selection is also an option through in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures in the United States.

Tony Jiang started an agency in Shanghai that consults with Chinese couples on their fertility options. He said most people, like him and his wife, seek surrogate mothers abroad because of fertility problems. They choose the United States because of its superior health care system and opt for a gestational pregnancy.

“More and more patients are inquiring about services at clinics,” he said.

Surrogacy procedures can run upwards of $120,000. That's a steep price. But Chinese couples are increasingly willing to pay it for the chance to have a child born in America.
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