By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times
February 19, 2012

Americans have long gone to China to adopt babies. In a twist, Chinese couples are now coming here to become parents — through surrogacy.

China does not permit surrogate parenting, but that country’s rising affluence has given many couples the option of coming to U.S. surrogacy clinics. California, with its large Chinese American community and its courts’ liberal attitude toward surrogacy, is a prime destination.

Jerry Zhu and Grace Sun of Beijing have so far saved $60,000 toward the expected $100,000 cost of surrogate birth. They hope to come to Los Angeles later this year for the procedure.

“It’s going to be expensive,” said Zhu, who manages a furniture factory. “But if we have a child it will complete the family. We are hoping for a son.”

U.S. and Chinese authorities say they do not track the numbers of Chinese couples coming here for surrogacy services, but surrogacy experts and clinic operators say there has been a sharp upswing.

“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.

Zhu, 42, and Sun, 35, said they haven’t chosen a clinic yet, but know they want to have the procedure performed in Southern California because of the many clinics here that specialize in surrogate births. The couple, who requested that their English nicknames be used because surrogacy is frowned upon by many people in China, said they came to their decision after several miscarriages.

“Of course we would rather have our own child naturally, but we realized that that might be impossible,” Zhu said.

Like most couples, Zhu and Sun hope for a so-called gestational surrogacy, in which an embryo created by the woman’s egg and the man’s sperm is implanted in a surrogate mother who will bear the child.

Clinic directors say a gestational surrogacy typically costs $80,000 to $120,000, with higher costs if there are complications or if repeated implants are needed.

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….Continue Reading

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