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Chinese baby with nurse

Photo by 东旭 王 on Unsplash

BEIJING – Cherry Lin wistfully strokes a one-piece baby outfit, fretting it may be too small for a son she is yet to meet — one of hundreds of Chinese mothers estranged from babies born to commercial surrogates overseas after the novel coronavirus forced border closures.

China banned all forms of surrogacy — both commercial and altruistic — in 2001 due to concerns poor women were being exploited.

But for $35,000 to $75,000, couples can seek women abroad, from Laos and Russia, to Ukraine, Georgia and the U.S., to carry their babies.

The system has been tipped into chaos by the pandemic, which has seen borders closed, flights canceled and visas pulled, creating a backlog of newborns waiting to be picked up by their biological Chinese parents.

It has also revived the black market for surrogacy inside China.

“Baby dens” with dozens of newborns in orphanages or apartments have been found as the situation worsens, according to surrogacy agencies in Russia and Ukraine.

“I can’t sleep at night thinking my baby is stuck in an... see more