MAGIC VALLEY — A surrogate mom in Idaho who made headlines last year is still caring for the baby she carried for a couple in China almost a year after giving birth.
The biological parents have not been able to travel to the U.S. due to travel restrictions put into place because of COVID-19.
“The biggest concern is the restrictions. I don’t think they’ll have a problem getting to the U.S., but getting back into Asia, they might have problems. So we’re trying to wait and see what happens with all the restrictions," said Emily Chrislip, the surrogate mother.
The biological parents have only been able to see their 9-month-old daughter through FaceTime calls and pictures.
The original plan was for Emily to give birth and hand the baby over to the biological parents that same day, but COVID-19 was declared a pandemic two months before she gave birth. Strict travel restrictions have prevented the couple from being able to pick up their daughter.
What originally was only supposed to last four weeks has now turned into nine months, with no end in sight.
“I can’t believe how much time has passed. I know, initially, we were like 'four weeks, we will take care of her and she’ll go home' and it’s turned into nine months. We’re hoping that they will be able to get here before her first birthday in May," Chrislip said.
She said the entire process for the parents to travel to the U.S. to pick up the baby could take up to three months, which is one of the reasons why they have not been able to travel here.
“I just don’t know if they can take that amount of time off of work. I know some people would be like, 'well it's their child,' but for us too. My husband and I have talked about it and our job is our livelihood, and that’s how we pay for things so we have to work around that for ourselves too," Chrislip said.
She said one of the obstacles the couple faces is the strict restrictions in China and wanting to take the proper safety precautions. Since they would be on multiple flights, they don't want to potentially expose the baby to COVID-19.
"Something that I have to remember is they live in a whole other country and it's a whole different kind of government than we have. In the U.S. we're very free to speak our mind do what we want and in China, that's not the case. If they're told do something they do it," Chrislip said.
Throughout the process, Emily has also received support from the office of Sen. Jim Risch to make sure everything goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
“They’re going to be helping hopefully with the passport process to get it expedited a little bit, we’ll see, but I am in contact with them throughout this whole process as well," Chrislip said.
Emily told Idaho News 6 the hardest part of this process for her will be adjusting to life without the baby once she is in the care of the biological parents. But she said she is grateful to have been able to care for the baby instead of handing her to a nanny agency.
“Looking back I’m like, 'holy cow nine months is a long time,'" Chrislip said. "But it seems like it's gone very fast so it’s different when you sit down and think about the situation, but on a day-to-day basis, we just get through it and keep going on about our day and so it doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary anymore."