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Chinese couples seeking American women for surrogate pregnancies

Posted by Kevin Hartnett  September 27, 2013 10:37 AM

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Last Sunday Leon Neyfakh wrote about the surprising ways Boston is trying to attract Chinese tourists. Marketing angles include the city’s history, it’s universities, and—more remarkably—it’s relative harmony with nature, especially compared with big Chinese cities. It didn’t mention, though, a more niche reason Chinese couples might travel to Boston: To have a surrogate birth.

A report on Monday by Reuters said that wealthy Chinese families are increasingly enlisting U.S. women to carry their children for a number of reasons—to circumvent China’s one-child policy, gain access to top infertility treatments, and to have a child who is an American citizen (and who, once he turns 21, can sponsor his parents for a Green Card).

The article quotes John Wietman, who runs Circle Surrogacy, which is based in Boston. Weitman says that he’s negotiated six Chinese surrogacy arrangements in the last five years, but expects that number to grow. "I would be surprised if you called me back in four months and that number hadn't doubled," he told Reuters. "That's the level of interest we've seen this year from China.”

The use of American surrogates for Chinese families is interesting in a number of ways. It runs against prevailing economic and medical tourism currents—we’re used to outsourcing to China, rather than the other way around, and American couples are increasingly using foreign rather than domestic surrogates because the process is less expensive in countries like India. Sino-American surrogacy arrangements are also a warm counterpoint to the icy relationship China and the US maintain on the world stage. In the same way kings and queens used to build alliances through marriage, maybe the US and China can improve diplomatic relations through bilateral births.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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