With the faint whiff of eugenics about it, the act of choosing the sex of your baby may be anathema to many people.
But increasing numbers of Hong Kong and mainland parents are getting around laws which ban the procedure at home by hiring the services of middlemen to smooth the way – at a price.
These facilitator businesses partner with clinics and hospitals in places like Thailand and the United States, where an IVF procedure can cost anything from HK$250,000 to HK$2.3 million.
“We have people who want a boy and a girl at the first go,” says 32-year-old Tina Fong Wai-lan, who runs Eden Hospitality with her husband Alfred Siu Wing-fung. Set up in 2008, it has arranged for more than 300 couples to go overseas on IVF and sex selection packages. “If it’s the first time they’re having children, the [Chinese] government won’t penalise them,” she said. Others look to even out the sex balance in their families.
Business has spiked with their client base tripling to 300 in the past year – about 70 per cent from the mainland and the rest from Hong Kong. The increase could be partly due to an advertising strategy which offers marriage packages alongside baby sex selection services.