Babies stranded in suburban Chicago, thousands of miles from parents, because of bureaucratic delays

Some babies in suburban Chicago are being kept from their parents because of bureaucratic delays.

The babies have been born to surrogates in Illinois, but their parents are citizens of Taiwan and China. Over the last year, COVID travel restrictions and passport problems were the main reason that babies born through surrogacy were kept from their parents. Now, surrogacy groups say the problems are delays with the Chinese and Taiwanese embassies.

"Without COVID, you could walk into an embassy and present documents to get a Chinese travel document," said Vicki Li. She is the coordinator of Asian Programs at Shining Light Baby, a surrogacy group based in Schaumburg. "Now, they are not accepting any in person appointments."

Li has been taking care of baby Daniel for five months now, and will continue for at least another couple months, until his parents can get the paperwork for him to come to China to live with them. 


Chinese parents have been turning to U.S. surrogates since 2015, when China lifted it s one-child policy. But arrangements that used to be handled in person are now all being done over email, creating a backlog, said Zara Griswold of Shining Light Baby. 

Li has taken in three other babies since the pandemic began: Eric, Ryder and Zane. 

"I'm actually enjoying being with the baby. My two are old in college right now --  only my husband and I stay in the big house with the babies," she said.

Daniel's parents live in Beijing. They watch him over video monitors and talk with him. But they want him with them, and that might not happen for months. When it does, Li or a nanny will fly with him to China.