Having a Baby in the Year of the Dragon

Chinese Couples Use Science to Make Sure Kids Are Born in Auspicious Period

By SHIRLEY S. WANG – LOS ANGELES

What does every aspiring dragon mother want? A dragon baby.

Monday begins the year of the dragon, considered the luckiest of the Chinese lunar years. Some Chinese and Chinese-Americans are so committed to welcoming a child this year that they are getting fertility treatments to boost their chances.

Evie Jeang, a 34-year-old Los Angeles lawyer, and her husband, Vincent Chen, 40, are one such couple. Ms. Jeang doesn’t have known fertility issues but froze her eggs two years ago as “insurance” since she wasn’t ready to have a child yet. The couple is now trying in-vitro fertilization to try to ensure they have a dragon baby.

If she isn’t pregnant by March—or maybe April, says Ms. Jeang—then “it isn’t meant to be.” They will stop treatment and try again in a few years.

Assisted-reproduction clinics in the U.S., China and elsewhere are reporting a surge in demand tied to the year of the dragon. The Los Angeles-based Agency for Surrogacy Solutions and sister company Global IVF Inc. have seen a 250% increase in business from Chinese or Chinese-Americans so far in January, according to co-founders Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos and Lauri Berger de Brito.

They expect the trend to continue until mid-May, the time by which couples need to conceive in order to deliver a baby by Feb. 9, 2013. Any baby born after that will be a snake not a dragon.

Being aligned with cosmic forces is important in Chinese culture. The year of the dragon is supposed to be particularly fortunate for babies, marriages and businesses. Those born as dragons are “the strongest, smartest and the luckiest—supposedly,” says Yibing Huang, a professor of Chinese literature and culture at Connecticut College. Mr. Huang has a dragon brother, though he himself is a sheep, a “mediator,” he says.

Chinese often schedule important life events to take advantage of the luckiest times. A recent lunar year that spanned two springs spurred a spike in weddings. And even though births are trickier to plan, in 2000, the most recent year of the dragon, 202,000 more babies were born in Taiwan than a year earlier, according to the Taipei Times citing government statistics.

Now with improvements in fertility treatments—and more affluent families in China—couples are deciding not to leave their luck to chance. Some are traveling long distances to the U.S., where reproductive medicine is thought to be more successful though more expensive. One cycle of in-vitro fertilization, a procedure in which a woman’s eggs are harvested, fertilized and placed back in her womb, costs upward of $10,000 in the U.S. compared to about $2,400 in China, according to the website IVFcost.net.

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