Family Building For Hong Kong & China residents
While Hong Kong, Bangkok and Sydney are popular destinations for good quality IVF, increasing numbers need a surrogate and such services are harder to access. Yet a global audit of surrogacy agencies in 2018 showed China to be in the top three user nations of cross-border surrogacy globally.
In the Hong Kong context, while legislation to allow surrogacy was finally enacted back in 2007, few local arrangements have progressed. Similar to countries such as Australia, Hong Kong has placed a raft of limitations and provisos on domestic surrogacy – couples need to be married, no advertising or payment is allowed, counselling is mandatory and the surrogate remains the legal parent until a later transfer of parentage. And strangely, none of Hong Kong’s licensed ART clinics list themselves as providing surrogacy services despite the laws allowing it.
Hong Kong does not have specific laws concerning surrogacy which takes place in other jurisdictions. All this means that demand for international IVF, donor and surrogacy arrangements is strong amongst both locals and expatriates.
The US is the destination of choice for those who can afford it – made more attractive by the automatic US citizenship awarded to children born there, the excellent medical care and legal protections. But huge Chinese demand for Californian surrogates has been a key driver pushing surrogate compensation in that state to over US$45,000 plus expenses.
Five other countries – Ukraine, Georgia, Russia, Greece and Canada also have both protective laws around surrogacy and egg donation for foreigners and often significantly lower costs. (Surrogacy and IVF in Ukraine can cost as little as US$35,000). A further small group of nations provide surrogacy without protections (such as Laos), have only just started programs (Columbia) or can provide donors but not surrogates (for example Thailand).
However accessibility and rules are complex. In an increasingly borderless world, these modern families often involve parties in two, three or more countries. A childless Frenchman and his Irish partner resident in Hong Kong may engage an egg donor from Spain, create embryos there and if needed, ship these to Ukraine where surrogacy is legal. The Frenchman and his Irish wife have are named as parents on the Ukraine birth certificate. On return to Hong Kong, the child is issued a temporary visa, and a formal residency/dependent application is made later.
Parent-run non-profits such as Growing Families aim to educate and empower infertile couples so they are less reliant on fertility ‘brokers’ selling hugely marked up ‘solutions’ and can instead deal directly with reputable professionals.
Growing Families are running their first educational seminar in Hong Kong on Saturday 19 October 2019, which will discuss family building options globally. Ten legal, medical and counselling experts from Hong Kong the US, UK, Ukraine, Greece, Russia and Australia will share their knowledge. Based on feedback from events run in Australia, the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, these seminars are highly valued. They cater particularly to singles and couples with fertility issues as well as gay men planning a family. Full details are at https://www.growingfamilies.org/hong-kong-seminar/