TODAY   |  November 29, 2013

Chinese couples turn to US surrogates for babies

Since surrogacy is illegal in China, couples who can’t get pregnant are searching for American surrogates to have their children, which are born with American citizenship. NBC News’ Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> heard about surrogates, women being paid to carey another couple's child. it enables thousands of american families to have children each year. but now there's a twist. couples from china are hiring american women to have their babies. you have been covering this for some time.

>> we have. we told you about pregnant chinese women flying to the united states to have their babies because any baby born on american soil is automatically a u.s. citizen . well, this is the next level of that. since it's illegal in china, chinese couples that can't get pregnant are now turning to american surrogates.

>> for linda and her husband, the path to parenthood hasn't been easy.

>> four years ago i have a disease. so i can't give birth to baby.

>> reporter: so like a growing number of chinese families, they turned to an american woman to carey their child.

>> some people told us it's legal in the united states so we searched information on the website.

>> reporter: websites like these advertising services in the united states . but that's not all they're selling. in mandarine this talks about the 14th amendment to the constitution. the one that says babies born in the united states are automatically u.s. citizens . therefore giving birth to a child in the u.s. guarantees the little darling citizenship and all the benefits there of.

>> what do chinese couples say for you?

>> harvard, yale, princeton. they want them to come here and get a great education and by them being united states citizens they won't have a problem coming back and getting accepted to the colleges.

>> she is at extraordinary conception. an agency that matches surrogate surrogates and egg donors with families.

>> 55% is chinese clients.

>> 55%?

>> yes.

>> is that up from say a year ago?

>> it has definitely grown 20 to 30% from last year.

>> it was very fulfilling.

>> reporter: last month janice gave birth to a baby boy for a chinese couple.

>> i could not live my life without any three children and the thought of giving that to somebody else is really the main reason why i did it.

>> reporter: agencies help chinese families secure american birth certificates , social security cards and passports before they head home to china.

>> how much does it cost to have an american surrogate?

>> anywhere between 120 to 140,000.

>> not cheap.

>> no.

>> included in that price, the ability to choose the baby's sex.

>> they were choosing to do a gender selection . they were choosing they wanted a boy.

>> reporter: and some chinese couples that haven't used their own sperm or eggs asked for a tall blonde egg donor .

>> by using a young lady that's taller that they will also have taller children themselves.

>> reporter: linda says all they were hoping for was exactly what their american surrogate gave them, a healthy child.

>> without her we can't get our baby.

>> a lot of parents can relate to that feeling but there are some including members of congress that think chinese couples are taking advantage of the u.s. policy on citizenship. they have talked about passing legislation to change the practices but it's hard to change the u.s. constitution . on the other side, all of this is bringing money into our economy because these chinese couples are coming over and paying medical bills in cash. they're paying for ivf and it's fuelling economic growth.

>> it's interesting how they want to choose the tall and the blonde --

>> yes.

>> you know, you can sort of mess with --

>> yes.

>> mother nature.

>> you can choose the gender and who is going to be your egg donor .

>> expensive proposition.

>> these are wealthy chinese families doing this.