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Monday, October 26, 2015

Affluent Chinese hiring surrogate mothers in U.S.

After giving birth as a surrogate mother for a Chinese couple four months ago, Terry is now matched with another Chinese couple, in Canada, and waiting for her medical appointment.

"It's really a good thing to do," said Terry, who asked that only her first name be used. Terry said she was even learning Chinese now from her Chinese colleagues at Extraordinary Conceptions, a Carlsbad, California-based agency that offers surrogate parenting services, where Terry works as a medical records clerk. Terry also has a child of her own.

At Extraordinary Conceptions, surrogacy mothers are usually women age 21 to 39 who have at least one child. They are paid $30,000 to $50,000 for carrying a child.

The agency now has 60 percent of its business from China and seven Chinese-speaking employees have been hired to deal with the surging interest from the country.

"I've been going to China for the last four years and have worked with hundreds of Chinese couples," said Mario Caballero, executive director of Extraordinary Conceptions. "I go to China every three months, meeting clients and middle agents, and visiting IVF (in-vitro fertilization) centers in China."

He said he started having more Chinese clients when words spread out. "You can come to the U.S. to have a baby; you can be a single person or an older person. All of this has been communicated by media back to China, so people decided that they could have a family when they thought they could not," said Caballero.

As China's law forbids surrogacy service and the government periodically cracks down on the underground surrogacy market, more Chinese couples are looking to overseas agencies.

It usually costs from 800,000 yuan to 1.1 million yuan (about $125,790 to $172,950) to have a baby in the U.S., much more expensive than in other countries such as Thailand, India and Nepal.

"The U.S. passports", the "stability of U.S. laws", and "the highest success rate" are among the top reasons why Chinese choose American surrogacy mothers, according to Caballero.

"And many of those countries do not issue birth certificates for the babies," he added. "In California, the paperwork with the names of the intended parents is at the hospital before the baby is born, so the surrogate's name never appears on the paperwork."

Another incentive is that the child born in the U.S. is eligible for U.S. citizenship and can sponsor their parents for a "green card" on reaching the age of 21.

Although surrogacy is illegal in China, Caballero said both he and the Chinese parents do not have legal concerns "because they know they are not doing surrogacy in China".

In April, the Chinese government set up a special task force to crack down on medical organizations, medical personnel and agencies providing illegal surrogacy service. But industry insiders said local family planning commissions as well as industry and commercial bureaus do not interfere with their business as long as the surrogacy is not done in China.

It is believed that the higher demand for surrogacy from China is partly due to the rising infertility rate. A report on China's infertility released by the China Women and Children Career Development Center in 2012 finds the infertility rate has increased to 12 percent in 2012 from 3 percent of 1992, which means about one in eight couples have reproductive problems.

The industry insiders said the surrogacy market will continue expanding at 30 percent a year.



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