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Surrogate babies stranded in US as agencies try to navigate through pandemic
Published: Jan 20, 2021 08:33 PM

A 27-year-old woman going through her fourth surrogate pregnancy oses in her rental flat in Kiev, Ukraine, on June 4, 2020. Photo: VCG



While surrogacy services continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus did bring about risks and even tragedy. Media reported that some babies born to surrogate mothers have been left stranded overseas due to lockdown measures.

Liu Ningguang, general manager of the China region of the New York-based Global Fertility Genetics, which provides fertility treatment and surrogacy services, told the Global Times that Chinese clients seeking surrogacy in the US have cancelled traveling to the US during the COVID-19 outbreak, largely because of quarantine restrictions on entering and exiting the country.

Normally, parents need to visit the foreign country to pick up their biological children born to surrogate mothers.

During the pandemic, some babies have been stranded as expectant parents were unable to enter the country, Liu said. 

Chinese people's willingness to travel to the US has also been greatly discouraged given the US' disastrous handling of the pandemic. 

Some people have been unable to obtain US visas because of the outbreak, so they cannot meet their surrogate babies as scheduled. It is often seen that clients will have their entry plans disrupted or suddenly changed due to unanticipated quarantine measures. People traveling from the Chinese mainland to the US are usually required to stay in quarantine at a third facility for at least 14 days on inbound and outbound trips, Liu noted.

In such cases, prospective parents can ask for a temporary guardian in the US for custody to avoid the baby being held up in a medical facility, she said. 

The Straits Times reported in May 2020 that the surrogacy system has been tipped into chaos by the pandemic, which has seen borders closed, flights cancelled and visas pulled, creating a "pile-up" of newborns waiting to be picked up by their biological Chinese parents.

Liu told the Global Times that surrogacy agencies in the US that cater to Chinese clients or rely entirely on Chinese surrogacy orders have also nearly shut down during the outbreak, though she said surrogacy tragedies caused by the pandemic are rare around her. 

Restrictions on surrogacy services during the pandemic vary around the world. 

Ulovebaby, a Kiev-based surrogacy agency which specifically targets Chinese clients, told the Global Times that the global spread of COVID-19 hasn't affected its business.

Many of its Chinese customers still travel to Ukraine for surrogacy amid the pandemic, the agency said, declining to tell the accurate number of clients it has served since the coronavirus outbreak began. "One reason is that, Ukraine approved visa-free travel for Chinese citizens months ago," said a staffer surnamed Kang who works at the agency's China office.

Ukraine recognizes China as a low-risk country for COVID-19 and Chinese citizens can visit Ukraine amid the pandemic without neither [nucleic acid] tests nor self-isolation, as government-backed website visitukraine.today showed.
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