China Experiences a Booming Underground Market in Child Surrogacy

New York Times – August 2, 2014 – by Ian Johnson

The rise of surrogacy is often linked to the increase in wealthier, better-educated Chinese couples waiting until their late 30s to start a family, a trend that makes it harder to conceive. Some academics say China’s severe air, water and soil pollution contribute to increasing infertility, though that claim has not been scientifically demonstrated.

Regardless, failure to reproduce is less of an option than it is in the West. Tradition holds that couples must have a child. A folk proverb warns that “among the three unfilial deeds, having no offspring is the worst.” Some women think they must have a child or their husbands will divorce them. Some couples seeking surrogacy have sadder stories, sometimes hoping to replace only children who have died.

China’s unregulated market, with a network of roughly 1,000 baby brokers nationwide, often results in trouble.

One woman who asked to be identified only by her family name, Zuo, said a friend put her in touch with a woman from the countryside who had already given birth and needed more income. Another friend recommended a private clinic in Beijing that would conduct the embryo implantation and follow-up treatments; a surrogate mother requires months of hormone shots to prepare her body for the implanted embryo and prevent its rejection.

Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

Attorney and Advocate at Time For Families
Who am I? On the deepest level, I am blessed. I have an amazing partner, who I have known since 1989 and been married to since 2004. I am the donor dad of two beautiful daughters who have two moms who are equally amazing. My husband and I have expanded our family through surrogacy and have a seven-year old son. I have had three careers (acting, massage therapy and the law) and I am still discovering myself. I am the Board Chair of Men Having Babies. The one thing I know for sure is that life is about trusting your instincts. Family is an instinct.
Anthony Brown