Having babies from abroad

Updated: 2014-10-08 07:59

By YANG WANLI(China Daily)

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Having babies from abroad 


More Chinese couples are turning to surrogacy services but risks remain, Yang Wanli reports.

Tang Zhou and his wife are planning to have their second child, a test-tube baby.


An Australian couple was reported to have abandoned a baby with his surrogate mother in Thailand because the baby had Down syndrome–but accepted the boy's healthy twin sister.

According to media reports in August, the 21-year-old surrogate mother from the southeast of Bangkok allegedly said she had been paid $14,900—enough to educate her own two children and pay back debts.

But she was now reportedly left with the baby boy, known as Gammy, who allegedly also suffers from a life-threatening heart condition, and cannot afford to pay for the medical treatment he requires.

In Australia, there is no national legislation on surrogacy, meaning some states have banned commercial surrogacy arrangements overseas in which the surrogate was paid for carrying a child.

But in some states, including Western Australia, it is legal to pay a surrogate mother living overseas. An Australian woman can act as a surrogate mother for free but has the right to keep the child rather than hand it over to the biological parents.

Surrogacy Australia—a nonprofit group that supports Australians who are planning to become, or already are, parents via surrogacy arrangements, said that more couples in Australia choose to go overseas than find an altruistic surrogate mother at home, with 400 to 500 each year venturing to India, Thailand, the US and other places to do so.

Thailand is a popular destination for couples seeking surrogate mothers. In 2014, the government drafted a law that bans paid surrogacy, in response to the controversial baby-Gammy incident.

His wife had a natural delivery when she was 34 and their first child, a boy, is now 7.

The couple, who are involved in a wine-importing business in Beijing, are now hoping to have a daughter through a surrogate mother in the US.

"My wife couldn't bear another delivery because of her heart condition and her age. Surrogacy helps avoid the risks to older mothers," Tang said.

"Moreover, our second child will be born in the US and become a citizen there. That is not a bad choice."

The couple spent weeks researching their move, looking for a reliable agency that provides surrogacy services overseas. Surrogacy is still illegal in many countries, including China.

"We will be taking much higher risks by relying on a surrogate mother in China because we are not protected by any regulation or law. You pay a lot of money but may encounter many problems," Tang said.

"You might not even get your baby back."

Tang and his wife are part of an increasing number of Chinese couples who are turning to surrogacy services.

Tang also considered surrogacy in Thailand but dropped the idea after recent reports about a baby with Down syndrome who was delivered through surrogacy and allegedly abandoned by the biological parents in Australia.

Instead, Tang chose the California Surrogacy Center agency as his first option after reading the detailed introduction on its website. Compared with many other agencies that he could contact only via e-mail, the center has a consulting office in Beijing, Tang said.

The couple visited the office on the 11th floor of the Nanyin Building near the West Third Ring Road in Beijing on a Friday morning. A consultant named Liu Jia hosted the couple. She said the office is only for consultations. Other procedures, including health checks, contractual arrangements, surrogacy and delivery of the baby, are done in the US.

"In the past two years, we've successfully helped about 40 couples in China have a child through surrogacy, including two gay couples. Most intended parents from China are between 38 and 45 years old," Liu said.

The center is in San Diego, California, and has satellite offices in Los Angeles and Beijing. According to Liu, the center has been operating for more than eight years, and about 100 surrogate mothers live in California.

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