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Assisted Reproduction

International Surrogacy: The Increased Demand For Dragon Babies

The LA times has reported on surrogacy cases with couples form China.  Given the economic climate in both the United States and in China, many Chinese couples are in a prime position to come to the US to have a child through surrogacy.  This isn’t news to anyone in the surrogacy industry, however.  Not only is surrogacy illegal in China, it’s illegal in many foreign countries.  Therefore, infertile couples who wish to have a child through surrogacy are forced to do so in a foreign country, most commonly the US but most notably, also in India.

“In the last year, it went from nonexistent to being tremendous,” said Parham Zar, managing director of the Egg Donor & Surrogacy Institute in Los Angeles. He estimates that about half of his company’s business comes from Chinese couples.

Surrogate Alternatives Inc. of San Diego has three agents in China who recruit couples. Last year about 40% of Surrogate Alternatives’ 140 client couples were from China, Chief Executive Diana Van De Voort-Perez said.

Although I disagree with the first statement, as my personal experience has been contrary, there has been an increase in the numbers of couples from China coming to the US for surrogacy:

Many couples doing surrogacy also need the help of an egg donor.  Finding a Chinese or any Asian egg donor is very difficult.

The price rises about $30,000 if the prospective mother’s eggs are not viable. In these cases, the clinics typically obtain eggs from donor clinics.

Most Chinese couples insist on eggs from ethnic Chinese women, which has led to inflated prices, said Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg of the Fertility Institutes in Encino.

A Caucasian woman normally gets about $5,000 to $8,000 for 10 to 14 eggs, Steinberg said, with the money technically being paid for the energy, time and pain associated with the “donation.” An ethnic Chinese woman can command $15,000 and up for her eggs, according to Steinberg and other surrogacy specialists.

“It’s supply and demand,” Steinberg said. “Chinese are the premiums.”

Shelley Smith, owner of the Egg Donor Program in Studio City, said she does not usually pay Chinese women more for their eggs, but acknowledged that she is planning to pay an ethnic Chinese woman who lives in New York $15,000, which is higher than her normal fee.

Much of that premium is because the woman is a repeat donor whose eggs have proved to be fertile, Smith said, but other factors are also at play.

“This Chinese egg donor is in great demand,” Smith said. “She has perfect 1600 [SAT scores], she is very, very pretty, and she went to an Ivy League school.”

Chinese clients have become so important that California surrogacy clinics hire agents based in China to drum up business.


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