Surrogacy helped Su Lang - now she helps others
For four years, Beijing-born Su Lang tried desperately to have a baby. But it was only after three miscarriages and much disappointment that her doctor gave her the devastating news that fibroids in her uterus would prevent her from ever carrying a baby to term.
'I was absolutely heartbroken. It had got very depressing just trying and trying. I had so desperately wanted to have a child, and had always dreamed of having many kids and a large family. When I read about the possibility of surrogacy, it gave me tremendous hope,' said the former primary school teacher, who has lived in the US for several decades.
Six years ago, when Lang was in her late 30s, her daughter was born via a gestational surrogacy in which the surrogate received Lang's fertilised egg and carried the baby to term.
She was so grateful for the birth that she set up the Surrogacy Centre Hong Kong in an effort to help others in similar situations.
'Without having been in my situation, you can't possibly know what it is like to so desperately want a child yet not be able to have one. When you are in that position, you are wiling to do anything and to leave no stone unturned to think of a way of achieving your goal,' explained Lang, who lived in Hong Kong for two years before emigrating to the US with her family when she was five years old.
Since 2005, her agency has grown steadily, attracting an increasing number of Asians, including Chinese people, who now see surrogacy as their last option.
'In the US, surrogacy has become a mainstream alternative for people with money. In recent years, it has become all the rage and so accepted. Not a single week goes by without surrogacy appearing in the news. Hollywood is doing it, everyone is doing it,' she said.
And with more individuals giving marriage a miss, and opting for non-traditional types of relationships, Lang said a growing number of single people were turning to surrogacy too.
'In the US, we no longer have the classic family. Families now come in many formats from married couples to singles, gays to lesbians. A child can be happy in a multitude of these family settings,' she said.
'Just because you don't end up finding a specific person to spend the rest of your life with does not mean you can't be other things like a good father or mother.'
Though she acknowledged such a liberal view was not necessarily applicable to Hong Kong and the mainland, where people tended to be more conservative, what was most important, she said, was the fact that her clients readily accepted these new family concepts and saw surrogacy as a viable option.
Her agency works with surrogates willing to be reimbursed for medical costs and expenses, but not paid for the actual work.
'These are special women who choose to be surrogates,' she said. 'They are prepared to take up a very selfless act and make a generous contribution to society. They understand they have the power to change someone else's life for the better, and they have the power to give life. Money to them is not the motivating factor.'
Before selecting potential surrogates, the agency ran a rigorous screening and matching process that included psychological testing and interviews with social workers to ensure surrogates were mentally stable and fully understood the responsibility at stake, she said.