Monday, January 23, 2012

Having a Baby in Year of the Dragon Is Too Lucky to Be Left to Chance

Having a Baby in Year of the Dragon Is Too Lucky to Be Left to Chance
Chinese Couples Use Science to Make Sure Kids Are Born in Auspicious Period

LOS ANGELES—What does every aspiring dragon mother want? A dragon baby.
Monday begins the year of the dragon, considered the luckiest of the Chinese lunar years. Some Chinese and Chinese-Americans are so committed to welcoming a child this year that they are getting fertility treatments to boost their chances.
Evie Jeang, a 34-year-old Los Angeles lawyer, and her husband, Vincent Chen, 40, are one such couple. Ms. Jeang doesn't have known fertility issues but froze her eggs two years ago as "insurance" since she wasn't ready to have a child yet. The couple is now trying in-vitro fertilization to try to ensure they have a dragon baby.
If she isn't pregnant by March—or maybe April, says Ms. Jeang—then "it isn't meant to be." They will stop treatment and try again in a few years.
Assisted-reproduction clinics in the U.S., China and elsewhere are reporting a surge in demand tied to the year of the dragon. The Los Angeles-based Agency for Surrogacy Solutions and sister company Global IVF Inc. have seen a 250% increase in business from Chinese or Chinese-Americans so far in January, according to co-founders Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos and Lauri Berger de Brito.

They expect the trend to continue until mid-May, the time by which couples need to conceive in order to deliver a baby by Feb. 9, 2013. Any baby born after that will be a snake not a dragon.
Being aligned with cosmic forces is important in Chinese culture. The year of the dragon is supposed to be particularly fortunate for babies, marriages and businesses. Those born as dragons are "the strongest, smartest and the luckiest—supposedly," says Yibing Huang, a professor of Chinese literature and culture at Connecticut College. Mr. Huang has a dragon brother, though he himself is a sheep, a "mediator," he says.
Chinese often schedule important life events to take advantage of the luckiest times. A recent lunar year that spanned two springs spurred a spike in weddings. And even though births are trickier to plan, in 2000, the most recent year of the dragon, 202,000 more babies were born in Taiwan than a year earlier, according to the Taipei Times citing government statistics.
Ringing in the New Year
Now with improvements in fertility treatments—and more affluent families in China—couples are deciding not to leave their luck to chance. Some are traveling long distances to the U.S., where reproductive medicine is thought to be more successful though more expensive. One cycle of in-vitro fertilization, a procedure in which a woman's eggs are harvested, fertilized and placed back in her womb, costs upward of $10,000 in the U.S. compared to about $2,400 in China, according to the website
K. and G. Lam, a couple who live on the southern coast of China and both work in finance, have been trying to conceive naturally and through in-vitro fertilization for years in China without success. With the coming year of the dragon, they decided to "accelerate" their efforts to have a dragon boy by using a surrogate in the U.S., says Mr. Lam, 40. Surrogate mothers are illegal in China, as is picking the gender of the child.
As the Lams prepared to meet their surrogate at a clinic in Los Angeles one recent day, Ms. Lam was sober. "I'm putting my dreams in [her] hands," says Ms. Lam, 39.
During their first meeting with the woman, Shereen, Ms. Lam was so moved she cried. Shereen seemed kind, and though she isn't Chinese, the Lams say that doesn't matter. Any baby born during the year is a dragon baby, no matter where or to whom—and the child will be biologically theirs.
A lucky zodiac means "more hope for [the baby's] success," says Mr. Lam.
Robyn Perchik, owner of Beverly Hills Egg Donation in California, said a doctor told her about the coming year of the dragon, so she increased the clinic's database of donors of Chinese origin by targeting Chinese-language newspapers. The group has seen a 250% surge in contracts signed for those eggs in the past few months compared with a year earlier, says Ms. Perchik.

There has been an increase at some clinics in Asia as well. Chen Hsin-Fu, president of the Taiwanese Society for Reproductive Medicine in Taipei and a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital, known for its expertise in fertility treatment, said the hospital has seen a 30% to 50% increase since May from patients all over Asia.
Many couples undergoing fertility treatment don't have a medical need for doing so. Ms. Berger de Brito says that 30% or so of Global IVF's current Chinese clients have no medical necessity, a percentage echoed by Lin Tseng-kai, head of the Artificial Reproductive Technology Center at Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital in Hsinchu, Taiwan. "It doesn't matter if you have an easy time or a hard time [getting pregnant], when it comes the dragon year they all want to have one," says Dr. Lin.
Ms. Jeang, the Los Angeles lawyer, grew up in Taiwan until the sixth grade surrounded by family who believed intensely in astrology and went to psychics. She had a two-year engagement before getting married because her mother told her that it would be more auspicious if the wedding took place after she turned 30.
Being born a dragon should be good for the baby but also for her husband, she says. She has been told that a baby born the following year, which would be a snake, wouldn't get along well with him. In fact, taking her husband's pig sign into account, if she doesn't have a baby this year, she should wait five more years before giving birth. The couple hasn't decided if they would wait that long, as Ms. Jeang would be 40 by then.
Her Asian-American husband "thinks I'm crazy, but he just wants to have kids," she says.


  1. Consumer spending was flat in December as households took advantage of the largest rise in income in nine months to boost their savings, setting the tone for a slowdown in demand early in 2012.

    The Commerce Department said on Monday spending was the weakest since June and followed a 0.1 percent gain in November.

    Economists polled by Reuters had expected spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, to nudge up 0.1 percent last month. For all of 2011, spending rose 4.7 percent, the largest increase since 2007.

    When adjusted for inflation, spending dipped 0.1 percent, breaking three straight months of gains. It increased 0.1 percent in November.

    The government reported on Friday that consumer spending grew at a 2.0 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, helping to lift gross domestic product 2.8 percent — an acceleration from the third-quarter's 1.8 percent rate.

    Part of the spending, which has been concentrated in motor vehicles, has been funded from savings and credit cards as high unemployment constrains wage growth.

    Why All the Gloom?Summers: 'Lot of Work' NeededThese Folks Quit Jobs, Made Millions
    Wages rose last month, helping to prop-up incomes. Income advanced 0.5 percent, the largest gain since a matching increase in March, and followed a 0.1 percent rise in November. Economists had expected income to rise 0.4 percent.

    Consumer spending is closely watched because it accounts for 70 percent of economic activity.

    Unemployment stands at 8.5 percent — its lowest level in nearly three years after a sixth straight month of solid hiring.

    For the final three months of 2011, Americans spent more on vehicles, and companies restocked their supplies at a robust pace.

    Still, overall growth last quarter — and for all of last year — was slowed by the sharpest cuts in annual government spending in four decades. And many people are reluctant to spend more or buy homes, and many employers remain hesitant to hire, even though job growth has strengthened.

    The outlook for 2012 is slightly better. The Federal Reserve has estimated economic growth of roughly 2.5 percent for the year, despite abundant risk factors: federal spending cuts, weak pay increases, cautious consumers and the risk of a European recession.

    Economists say the big question going forward is whether incomes will gain enough strength to support stronger spending, thus helping the economy to grow at a faster rate. Many analysts believe the economy will continue to muddle along with low growth in 2012.

    Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight, said he expected the overall economy would grow 2 percent this year, only slightly better than 2011 with consumer spending rising 2 percent as well.

  2. "Even if there is little prospect of getting Republicans to agree with these proposals, they're important reference points for the public in identifying Obama as someone who's on their side," said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin.
    Obama offered his plans, with scant detail, in Tuesday's State of the Union address. He used the word "fair" seven times to describe tax increases aimed at groups the Occupy movement has branded as the "one percent" of Americans who are doing extremely well while the rest of society struggles.
    The president proposed ending tax breaks for U.S. companies moving jobs or profits to foreign countries and creating a minimum tax on their overseas profits. He also suggested new tax breaks for businesses that move jobs back to the U.S., for domestic manufacturing and for companies that invest in towns that have suffered major job losses.
    Getting most attention was his plan to tax incomes above $1 million annually at a rate of at least 30 percent. That's a sharp and convenient contrast with the 15 percent tax rate enjoyed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, who earned about $21 million each of the past two years.
    The proposals quickly became fodder for the GOP presidential contenders. Romney said the next day on CNBC's "Kudlow Report" that Obama's plan was "designed to come at me if I'm the nominee," and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said during last Thursday's presidential debate, "His proposal on taxes would make the economy worse."

    Read more:

  3. Cold weather may come to the U.S. Northeast including New York next week, boosting demand for natural gas and heating oil to warm homes and businesses, forecasts show.
    Temperatures may fall from 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (3.3 to 5.6 Celsius) below normal in the New York area to as much as 18 degrees below normal in northern Maine, according to David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.
    “The big story this morning is the strengthening of this weekend’s Northeast cold push and the longer duration into early next week,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

  4. I am interesting in knowing what your thoughts on the whole GOP primary?

  5. This cannot be empty

  6. Why spend all that money for a YEAR?


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