Qiguang Li and Wei Xu, a gay couple from China, flew to the United States to get married (forbidden in their home country) and start the long journey towards having a baby with the help of a surrogate mother.

Between 2015 and 2018, the couple made the transpacific trip four times in order to facilitate their gestational surrogacy journey

They spent more than $200,000 USD to fulfil their goal of having a family of their own. Li and Xu are certainly not alone – many gay Chinese couples are making this same journey to undergo surrogacy.

For many of these men, the pressure to have a child began mounting between the ages of 30 and 40. When speaking to reporter Zeyi Yang, they expressed concern over the concept of mianzi. This is “a nuanced Chinese concept that literally translates to “face” but also means social standing and dignity.”

One of the most important components of mianzi is the pressure to maintain the family lineage and have a family. Having a blood descendent is considered a mandatory aspect of having a good life in Chinese culture. This explains many men’s desire to have a child – they feel that they must do so in order to respect their parents.

Some of the men interviewed by Yang confided that their parents were initially unhappy when they discovered their sons were gay

However, they were much more accepting when they found out about the option to have a surrogate grandchild.

David Wang, a single gay man in Sichuan, explains. “My parents’ main argument was that they don’t want me to end up ageing alone.” They paid for his surrogacy journey as single father, and his son was born in February 2019.

Dr Guy Ringler, a partner at California Fertility Partners, is at the forefront of promoting surrogacy to gay men in China

He says, “I have several patients who told me that they came out to their parents after their baby was born. They said that it was so much easier because the parents don’t care any more. Because they have grandchildren, it’s not that big of a deal anymore.”

For Xu and Li, the circumstances were similar. Xu waited to reveal his sexuality to his parents until he was halfway through the surrogacy process. His parents were excited for the news that they would soon be grandparents, and this helped them come around to the idea that he was gay. However, it must be noted that this is not a feasible option for all gay Chinese men – the cost of surrogacy can be up to $250,000, and only the wealthiest people in the country can afford this procedure. In the meantime, Xu and Li would love to have a second child if they can round up the funds.

Are you considering the surrogacy? Or have you had a child using a surrogate? We would love to hear from you at [email protected] or on social media @ivfbabble