Trading Babies

By Piper Bayard

I recently learned about a new fad called Maternity Tourism. That’s where wealthy women, primarily from China, travel to America at the end of their pregnancies to have their babies here, ensuring they are born American citizens. They fly here on legitimate travel visas, stay in boutique hotels that are set up with nurseries, have their American babies at American hospitals, and then, after their recovery period, they return home with their little Yanks. Click here for a short CNN video on the topic.

image from Dreamstime.com

Yep. Arrive pregnant. Leave with an American citizen.

So when I first heard about this, I thought, “Wait a minute! That is soooo not cool.”

American citizenship is a first class privilege, not a Plan B. Immigrants who come here to identify with American laws and ideals and to contribute to the well-being of this country with their time, talents, and loyalties are the people who keep our country young and vital in a changing world. But immigrants who come to take advantage of our bounty while maintaining their first identity and loyalty to other countries . . . those immigrants bleed us of our vitality without contributing any value that supersedes the harm they cause. Allowing people to illegally use us while simultaneously spitting on us is just mental. Maternity tourism, at first glance, fell into that latter category to me.

And then I gave it a second thought. . . . Hey, why not? It’s not like Americans don’t fly over there to bring home Chinese babies. Besides, these women are coming here legally. They are paying for the goods, services, and health care they receive, and they are abiding by the terms of their visas and going home with their babies. They are not using their babies as anchors to legitimize their illegal presence in America. We should be thanking them for being good and responsible tourists.

Not only that, but these new little Americans can serve our country in a unique mission. They can help us balance the trade deficit with China. . . . Think about it. The USA currently has a $270 billion trade deficit with China. That means we buy around $270 billion more clothes, machine parts, and unnecessary plastic objects from them than we sell to them.

Now, there are roughly 341 million family households in China, approximately one-fourth of its population. If each of these 341 million families has an American child growing up in China, those kids will eventually translate into 341 million American adults contributing to the functioning of Chinese society. In all fairness, the labor and money collected by American citizens on Chinese soil should apply toward balancing that trade deficit.

Our US government needs to start negotiations now to ensure that our American-Chinese citizens will receive an American standard of fair labor treatment, and at least an American federal minimum wage for their services. Consider that the children of China, for all practical purposes, can begin to work and contribute to society’s functioning as early as 3 years of age. I’m not making this up. Check Google Images with the search “Chinese Child Labor.”

But we’ll be charitable and round that up to a generous 10 years, since these are American citizens we’re talking about.

Now, let’s put this all together. If 341 million American-Chinese children begin earning $7.25 per hour, forty hours per week, 50 weeks per year, in just 10 years they will be worth, collectively, $4.945 trillion annually to the nation of China. Look at our trade deficit now! Who knows? Perhaps we will earn China’s Most Favored Nation Status.

Considering the benefit to our country from having 341 million American-Chinese children reversing the trade deficit back in our favor, we should not discourage these clever tourists from purchasing the benefits of our establishment. In fact, we should actively encourage them, and even thank them. Personally, I think these new mothers should receive a complimentary mani/pedi upon arrival in the USA—something every pregnant woman enjoys—and a baby gift in the form of a child’s pet to take home with them at their departure. . . . A pregnant Imperial Dwarf Deer.

Imperial Dwarf Deer (formerly known as a muskrat), image from Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com

What do you think of Maternity Tourism? Do you think it’s ok since these women are following our laws? Or do you think our laws should be changed? How would you change those laws? And what other appropriate baby gifts can you think of to give these folks?

All the best to all of you for finding the silver lining.

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50 comments on “Trading Babies

  1. I’m not so sure on this…at first I think, if they’re doing it legally, then it’s okay. But then I think, if they want their babies to be American citizens, why do they travel back to China? Call me a pessimist, but I don’t see this necessarily as a good thing. China is so very close to having the right to claim our country, okay – maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here – but what if this is some planned way to allow for these Chinese/American citizens to run for President of the United States after having been raised in China? Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many conspiracy theory movies….

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I don’t think you’re exaggerating one bit. I think it’s cold calculation on many levels. If you consider, these are the wealthy Chinese women. Chinese don’t get to be wealthy in China if they aren’t part of the approved establishment. If the Chinese government didn’t approve of maternity tourism and see some benefit to China, it would not be allowed from their end.

      Say what you will about China, but China is patient. America is not. That is their strength and our weakness. What a marvelous tool for them to raise up our citizens in their world and send them back here as adults to take what power they can in our country. They will be Americans on paper, but they will be Chinese in their hearts and minds. Personally, I think it’s a travesty, and our citizenship laws should absolutely be changed.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughtful comment.

  2. educlaytion says:

    Interesting stuff. I’m fascinated. Not sure what I think immediately but talk about your all time loopholes.

  3. kerrymeacham says:

    I’m in the, “If I have to think too hard to determine if I like it, then I don’t,” camp. While your logic is flawless as always Piper, I’m gonna go with an absentee citizen not being the best of any world. Call me crazy. Thanks for a stimulating post Piper. You find the most interesting things to make people go, “hummmmm”

  4. Kathy Owen says:

    I don’t think we should change the birth law; that’s not really the problem. It’s the abuse of it, although right now I’m having trouble coming up with what it is that they’re taking away from us by giving birth to American citizens.

    But if you want to put a stop to it, I think we should have rules that restrict pregnant women from other countries from traveling to the U.S. when they are past a certain gestation period – 5-6 months along, maybe? How long can someone stay on a tourist visa?

    Maybe that would be hard to enforce, but hey, they scan us at airports for all sorts of weapons, why not have some ultrasound techs out there playing guess-the-baby’s-gestational age. Maybe some of these women would be in for a surprise! “I’m WHAT? Pregnant? Uh, oh…”

    I know, I’m feeling particularly goofy this Monday.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      As far as what they are taking away, I think it’s more about what they have to gain without having contributing. They would be legally eligible for everything from SSI to health care. When they are grown, they can return and bring their entire families to take advantage of our system. Who’s to say they aren’t long term anchor babies? What I see as more of an issue, though, is the increase in the number of Americans who are not American. America actually does have a national culture and societal identity that would be diluted by these non-American Americans, especially once they start voting. And as voters, they will be equal “guardians” of our constitution. Do we really want people who are culturally and socially communist Chinese voting in our elections?

      But, then again, now that I think about it, if they are anything like the hyphenated Americans in this country, the Americans of China will work harder at being American than we do. Could be that some day, it will be like the Persian culture, formerly from Persia, that now survives in California more than it does in Iran. Perhaps in 30 years when these kids are grown, they will be the only ones left eating apple pie, so to speak. I honestly don’t know. Just a thought.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  5. Texanne says:

    Do we really want people who are culturally and socially communist Chinese voting in our elections?

    It’s a stealth invasion, and it is not good. As usual, the Communist Chinese (and others, too) are taking advantage of our best intentions to destroy us from within. First it’s the crushing debt and loss of manufacturing and farming capability. Now it’s the Communists who will show up at age 18 demanding to vote.

    In CA a few years ago, there was a move to allow non-citizens to vote in CA elections, provided the non-citizens owned property in the state. That move failed.

    What other country awards citizenship in this fashion? I’d like to know.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      * Argentina
      * Barbados
      * Brazil
      * Canada
      * Colombia
      * Jamaica
      * Mexico
      * Pakistan
      * Peru
      * Romania
      * United States
      * Uruguay

      Australia is close. Birth on Australian soil does not, by itself, grant citizenship unless one parent is an Australian citizen. But, if the child resides in Australia until he/she turns 10, then the child automatically acquires citizenship, regardless of the citizenship/immigration status of the parents.

      You know, Australia is making sense to me. What do you think?

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      • Texanne says:

        Of the countries you list, probably only Canada is an attractive destination for instant immigrants. It’s hard to imagine that the others on the list are much of a target, certainly not in the way we are.

        But this is not just a case of folks wanting a better life–they have a good life. They want something much more sinister than that. They want us. I just can’t figure out why.

  6. Texanne says:

    Sorry, Piper, I forgot to thank you for another enlightening post. You are a brave woman. :)TX

  7. I don’t know what to say on this. Yes, they are responsible tourists – yes, they don’t use that to legitimize their stay – yes, they pay for the services etc.

    But what I didn’t see in the article is WHY are they doing this? Maybe if I have their answer on that, I could elaborate better.

    And the chinese babies adopted by american families are raised in US, having their family and country in US and an american mentality. There is a huge difference.

    And a question: let’s suppose (heavens forbid) that sometimes in the future, there will be a war between China and US – whose side those babies will they fight on? It’s a rhetorical question, I don’t really need an answer…

    Very interesting topic, thanks Piper :)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      You raise some excellent points, Irene. I suspect the true “why” is variable depending on the woman giving birth, but I can’t think of any “whys” they could possibly have that spell anything but trouble for us in the long run. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  8. Annie says:

    I have to say it smells awful at first sniff, like a ripe-to-be-changed diaper. Usually a person’s gut reaction is right.

    I think it should take a little more than simply being born here to be American, unless your parents are already long-standing citizens.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I 100% agree. The 14th Amendment Citizenship Clause served the purpose of granting citizenship to former slaves. That problems no longer exists, and the solution has now become the problem. We need to change. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  9. EllieAnn says:

    I think it’s strange that the US allows anyone born here the option of becoming a citizen. It goes back to our dependance on immigrants for the well-being of our country.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      We had to have a way of making former slaves citizens of America after the Civil War, because pre-Civil War case law said blacks could not be citizens. The problem no longer exists. We have a new problem, now, and it’s time for change. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  10. Catie Rhodes says:

    I think your answer to Tiffany’s comment makes up a logical reason for this practice. And you’re right that China has patience while America does not. This is…wild. Thank you for posting. I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

  11. Hmmm…seems like a risky situation. There’s definitely something stinky afoot (even if I’m not quite bright enough to figure it out LOL)

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Yes. I don’t know exactly what they’re thinking, but there’s nothing good that can come of this. I believe it is one more instance of people using our magnanimity against us. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. My twins were born in Bangkok (we lived there for five years). Our kids never were Thai citizens, as neither me nor my husband are Thai. We had to apply for them to become Canadian citizens (even though it was technically automatic since we are both Canadian).

    I’m not sure when Thailand changed this law (that one parent has to be a citizen in order for their newborns to be granted citizenship), but I wonder if other countries, like the US, might someday follow suit. I’m not sure this is a good thing or not…part of me wonders if it comes out of xenophobia.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Just because you’re xenophobic, it doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you. :) I understand your point, and perhaps we would reach another crossroads, but right now, I think we are laying ourselves out as the world’s doormat, and that doesn’t sit well with me. Anyone who wants to come here legally and embrace America is welcome to me. Anyone who wants to come ravage us is not. But like I said, I do understand your point. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate your perspective.

  13. Gene Lempp says:

    When the U.S. was young, the law of “born in our land belongs to our land” made sense. We didn’t have as much population, lots of space to fill (and conquer) and people couldn’t hop a red-eye and be anywhere in the world within a day.

    Realities always change faster then laws and reasons burn away in the heat of the moments realities. Which makes me wonder if the true culprit is the law itself or the way in which it is handled. Something to consider, with politics aside and only the realities before us.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I think laws have to change to deal with current problems. That’s why the Founding Fathers allowed pathways for adapting the Constitution over time. I have no doubt they would instantly approve of changing this amendment. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  14. Erin Gill says:

    Chinese citizens in general have a very difficult time coming and going between China and the US. I have known of more than one Chinese graduate student, who when it came time to return to the U.S. to continue their program, were prevented from doing so (or at least delayed unreasonably) by their government while waiting to get their visas approved. I can’t claim to know what all the red tape is about, but this *might* be something these mothers are trying to make easier for their children…the ability to get an education (particularly post-baccalaureate) in the US while easily being able to come and go from their home land. The one flaw in this reasoning is… if the Chinese government makes it so hard on Chinese citizens, why would they allow this tourism practice in the first place??? Hmmmmmmmmm :) Any Chinese citizens reading this are welcome to respond…

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Exactly. Why would the Chinese government make it easy for women to travel here at exactly that time and come home at exactly that time? Those are some pretty inflexible travel plans. They don’t seem to do that for anyone else. I, too, would love to hear from some Chinese citizens on that score. Real Chinese citizens. The ones who aren’t Fifty Centers. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. :)

  15. Texanne says:

    This is another one of those things that is easier to think about in Big Picture mode. One thing to say, we are under attack and need to strengthen our defenses, keep the invaders out. Another thing to look at a mother and child and say, “You. Leave.”

    Like the photo above. Beautiful, irresistible. Who could reject them?

  16. You know, these Chinese-American citizens may not be a problem if I remember my tax law right. Even if they’re living in China, as American citizens they’re required to report and pay taxes on those wages. From the IRS website:

    “If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, you must report income from all sources within and outside of the U.S. This is true whether or not you receive a Form W-2 Wage and Tax Statement, a Form 1099 (Information Return) or the foreign equivalents. See Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income for more information.

    Additionally, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate and gift tax returns and for paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are living in the U.S. or abroad.”

    So the key is this: If these Chinese-American citizens do mean us ill, and they do indeed work from the time they are young, if they don’t pay their American taxes (Since they must get some sort of income), they’re liable for tax evasion. When they come back ‘demanding to vote’ as another commentor stated, they get arrested for tax evasion. No problems.

    If they don’t mean harm, or possibly trying to give their kids the choice of where to live, then I hope them well!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Lol. I love it! But I’m guessing those little kids don’t make enough to tax. More likely, they will qualify for some kind of federal handout. But that’s a great approach, Pat. :) Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  17. I didn’t know anything about this, but you’ve certainly started a great discussion. I personally believe one’s parents should be citizens, first. I find it a little disturbing citizenship is handed out that freely. Part of being a citizen is staying and contributing. I don’t think it’s unfair to ask that. But, giving Chinese children citizenship and then sending them back to China to potentially be raised with that country’s convictions is a tad concerning. Thanks for waking my brain up this morning!

  18. Dave says:

    I think that legal immigration is an essential part of keeping this country vital. The tricky part is creating policies that foster a sense of loyalty, ownership and engagement in the civil process. The process we have today does a mediocre job of that, yet witness the fervor shown by newly minted citizens. We have trouble getting natural born citizens to even vote.

    Still, I view the Chinese maternity tourists as just that – tourists. Nothing wrong with tourism. Take their money and send them home when they’re done.

  19. Personally, I like the idea. They’d have immigrant work ethic but are American citizens. If you think about it, immigrants made this country the way it is today. We work harder than most Americans born here, since we think that it’s a privilege, especially since the lives in our countries are harder. Besides, no one can claim of full American citizenship unless they’re American Indians, since they’ve been here first. We’re all immigrants. ;-)

    Now, there’s also a problem in the said article. Are they going to treat the Chinese immigrants born here as foreigners or fake papers as citizens? Remember that these foreigners have to pay higher in terms of taxes and they won’t have the same privilege as U.S. citizens. Also, if they fake their documents and passed themselves as U.S. citizens, their troubles would be for nothing.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Hi Marilag. :) Always good to see you.

      I understand your point about hard-working immigrants making America a great country. I agree that the immigrants who come here to build a new life and embrace American ideals are critical to fostering our relevance in the world as a nation. My concern is that these will be people raised as communist Chinese but with all of the rights an privileges of Americans at their disposal. These are not poor mothers. These women are the fruit of the communist establishment and deeply entrenched in it or they would not have money and such efficient, timely visas in their hands. China and America are not allies, they are frenemies. As far as how China would treat these babies, they would be treated like every other person in China. They would be tools of the State. As such, their American citizenships would also be tools of the State in the eyes of their families and their homeland.

      Legally, in America, they would be no different from any other American citizen. Thanks for stopping by and giving your perspective as one of those wonderful immigrants who makes America a better place to be.

  20. I am amazed that America still lets this happen given that it has the world’s fourth toughest border policy (after North Korea, Russia & Belarus).

    It’s been a back door to migration for decades. Here in the UK we stopped it back in 1982, Ireland didn’t stop it until 2008 when their economy was practically collapsing under the weight of mass immigration.

    We all know that immigration is beneficial to economy and culture. However, a nation that care’s for it’s people, security and economy should choose it’s migrants through, not the other way round. Consider also that the ethics of somebody who travels around the world to have a baby in a foreign country to get a passport, and also lies to the border police (they won’t let you in to have a baby) then this raises questions to the quality of migrant you are getting.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Well, while we have a tough immigration policy, we don’t enforce it very well, and our borders are a joke. A really bad joke. I’m quite surprised anyone would rate us as having the fourth toughest border policy. You make some excellent points. Thanks for stopping by. :)

      • I am guessing at it being fourth but having worked in public service (specifically immigration) for the past 11 years I speak from my humble experience. You are definitely tougher than the UK and we operate the most stringent control in the EU.

        I think the subject of how well the borders are enforced is subjective. UK is constantly attacked from both sides of public opinion (ie we are either too soft or too harsh). It’s always a subject that divides people.

        • Piper Bayard says:

          It’s definitely a subject that divides people here, too. As far as I can tell, we have a schizophrenic border control more bent on preserving voter loyalty than on controlling borders. The TSA throws up ridiculous smoke and mirrors at the airports, molesting American infants and old women in wheelchairs because, hey, we wouldn’t want to single out young Islamic men, would we? I mean, just because the vast majority of the active terrorists on the planet targeting America today are a subset of that group? What sense would that make? But at the same time, people raise hell when Arizona enacts a state law allowing police who have probable cause to stop people for possible crimes and violations, to also inquire into their citizenship. And what’s more is that the AZ law is an almost exact restatement of the federal law that the government refuses to enforce. Our immigration and border control policies have nothing to do with either immigration or border control, nor do they have anything to do with the security of our nation. They have everything to do with political pandering.

          Is it that way in the UK? Is the UK immigration and border policy consistent and based on what’s good for the country? Or is it based on what’s good for the UK politicians? I would love to hear your perspective on this issue.

      • Well in a sense it is political as the people who write the policy are always thinking about the votes but I do not believe that it is ever used as a tool against the country here in the UK. The primary objectives are to protect the nation’s economy from illegal work and acquirement of public funds as well as national security (terrorism). The policies are not perfect and many who work in the field have strong opinions that some should be changed but that is the way with any public agency. You’ll never please everyone.

        In the UK our border agents are not linked up with airport security (as I believe Homeland Security is in the US) so there is no argument over searches etc. There is always the argument over race and ethnicity however. We have a race relations law which forbids a public agency discriminating against a person because of race or ethnicity. It does however allow certain profiles of people to be targeted for more scrutiny if there are statistics and evidence to demonstrate that profile is a risk. People think that profiling is illegal, that is only true if it is purely prejudicial. So as long as the background work is done and you have evidence to back up your “high risk profile”, there is no need to pull over the old lady in a wheelchair or the frequent business traveller.

        The problem here in the UK is more of resources than policy. The laws are all there to have an effective control but the border agency is not given enough staff or money to effectively enact those policies. There is also the fact that EU law trumps UK law on human rights and freedom of movement issues and the national and European policies are not always compatible. But that is a different argument altogether and quite a boring one too!

        • Piper Bayard says:

          Just to be clear, I don’t think our politicians ever actively work against our country. I think they often put their own personal and political interests first, rationalizing by saying that their interests ARE the best interests of the country.

          I like the UK approach to profiling. Sounds like a good compromise. I’ve often thought we should at least profile for groups who would be virtually void of any risk, like 80-yr-old American Baptist grandmas from Arkansas, for example.

          Actually, I am fascinated to find out that EU law trumps UK law. I’m surprised the UK joined under those circumstances. For a country to give up such a chunk of its sovereignty is amazing to me.

          Thank you so much for your information and discussion.

      • It’s part of being in the EU, I think it’s a trade off against all the benefits. Some people are strongly against the EU but they are marginal. There are indeed down sides but the country benefits overall. I guess its a case of taking the rough with the smooth.

  21. Reba Verrall says:

    This is a really tough topic for any free & democratic country to be sure Piper; I really appreciated your insights and information…definitely have to go simmer on this one for awhile.

  22. This is the real reason everyone was speaking Chinese in Firefly/Serenity, isn’t it? :)

    Really though, I don’t think this is cool. Seems sneaky to me and I don’t like sneaky. What is the purpose? Do they one day hope to have an American president who was raised with Chinese ideals? Makes me nervous.

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