Rich Chinese seek US surrogate mums
WEALTHY Chinese are hiring American women to serve as surrogates for their children, creating a small but growing business in US$120,000 (S$150,000) American babies for China's elite.
Surrogacy agencies in China and the United States are catering to wealthy Chinese who want a baby outside the country's restrictive family-planning policies, are unable to conceive themselves, or are seeking US citizenship for their children.
While there is no data on the total number of Chinese who have sought or used US surrogates, agencies in both countries said demand has risen rapidly in the last two years.
US fertility clinics and surrogacy agencies are creating Chinese-language websites and hiring Mandarin speakers.
Boston-based Circle Surrogacy has handled half a dozen Chinese surrogacy cases over the last five years, said president John Weltman.
"I would be surprised if you called me back in four months and that number hadn't doubled," he said. "That's the level of interest we've seen this year from China."
At least one Chinese agent promoted surrogacy as a cheaper alternative to America's EB-5 visa, which requires a minimum investment of US$500,000 in a job-creating business.
While the basic surrogacy package that Chinese agencies offer costs between US$120,000 and US$200,000, "if you add in plane tickets and other expenses, for only US$300,000, you get two children and the entire family can emigrate to the US", said a Shanghai-based agent.
Often, though, it is infertility that sends Chinese couples to US surrogacy agencies. More than 40 million Chinese are now considered infertile, according to the Chinese Population Association.
Agents said that a substantial portion already have one child - some in their teens - and are looking to have a second outside China's 1979 family-planning policy that restricts couples, in most cases, to one child.