The Baby Carriers
During times of the COVID -19 pandemic, three immigrant women struggle to rediscover their identity through the surrogacy industry.
Throughout the course of a year and a half, Baby Carriers follows the lives of three people in the surrogacy industry and examines the impact of the pandemic on their lives – Alan, a California-based Chinese agent has to fly all over the country picking up clients’ babies and find helpers to send them back to China; Tonia, a young surrogate who has completed her journey, but transits to become the nanny as the pandemic delays the parents’ arrival; and Vivien, the passionate and charismatic founder of a Sino-U.S. surrogate agency.
In China, the country where I come from, surrogacy is officially prohibited. The subject gets press mainly with negative news, such as Celebrity Zheng Shuang abandons her two American surrogate babies, a scandal that drew a torrent of criticism nationwide towards surrogacy.
My curiosity grew higher when I met Vivien, a passionate and charismatic entrepreneur and founder of a Californian surrogacy agency. As a well-off Chinese immigrant (/fluent English speaker) with financial freedom, she could have chosen any industry to invest in. But why this shady and controversial one? There was a clear pride and satisfaction in her voice when Vivien speaks about her profession. And even more to my surprise, it was the same case with most of the American surrogate mothers I met.
(Like most of the people outside the circle,) I used to assume surrogate mothers to be women living in extreme poverty who have no other option of income. But in reality, here in California, they are mainly women with decent jobs and a caring personality who share strong compassion towards those unable to have their own children. While single mothers holds a high percentage, their financial status could hardly be described as “struggling”(what’s a harsher word?).
What’s really a struggle is the actual business. Each case can easily take up to two years, from intended parents pairing up with a surrogate mother all the way to the successful delivery of a baby. The tedious work requires the coordination of 6-7 parties, if not more, covering aspects such as medical, logistics, finance, etc. Things only grew more challenging when the pandemic hit in 2020, which led to the country shutting off its borders. Everyone in the business had to figure out their own solutions.
For me, it seems like a miracle that such complex procedures could even be completed. How stressful is this process for the intended parents when they have such little control? What happens when complications occur during pregnancy? Who will protect the surrogate mothers’ or the intended parents’ rights? This is a film where I try to answer these questions.