A Terrible Loss, Then Something 'Sweet'

Boy born from surrogate in China after parents died in car crash four years earlier
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2018 9:30 AM CDT
They Died 4 Years Ago, Just Became Parents
Not Tiantian's toes.   (Getty Images/Sandra Dombrovsky)

A Chinese couple have had their parenthood dream realized, though nearly five years after their deaths. A baby boy was born to a surrogate in December from a fertilized embryo frozen by the couple. It was to have been implanted in the womb of Liu Xi, but she and her husband of two years, Shen Jie, died in a 2013 car crash just five days before the scheduled procedure, reports the Guardian. As Liu and Shen had no siblings, per the New York Times, their deaths might've meant the end of their family lines—if their parents hadn't intervened. They demanded a court grant them authority over the couple's embryos, stored at a hospital in Nanjing. After a complicated three-year legal battle—it involved suing each other, per the Times—they won.

Since surrogacy is illegal in China, an embryo was then implanted into the womb of a 27-year-old surrogate from Laos. To ensure Chinese citizenship, the child was born in a hospital in Guangzhou, with the four grandparents taking DNA tests to confirm the identities of his deceased parents, reports the BBC. Liu's mother named him Tiantian, meaning "sweet." His "eyes look like my daughter's but overall, he looks more like his father," she tells the Beijing News, per the Guardian. Shen's father adds the grandparents will only tell Tiantian what happened to his parents when he's older and ready to hear it. "This boy is destined to be sad on his arrival into the world," he says. "Other babies have their fathers and mothers." (A California woman gave birth to her own grandson.)

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