GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. - An Arizona woman was a surrogate for the very first time for a family in China, but once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, baby Jasper was born and had to wait weeks to finally meet his parents.
Foreign parents of babies being born to surrogates in America are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with some waiting several weeks to meet their child for the very first time.
Because of international travel bans, the surrogacy industry is having to adjust, including an Arizona surrogate.
A Green Valley woman experienced being a surrogate mother for the very first time, but definitely was in uncharted territory when coronavirus was widespread in Arizona back in June.
She's sharing her journey and her newfound bond with a Chinese family.
"His name is Jasper. That's his American name. He's beautiful, healthy," says surrogate mother, Heather Regan.
On June 11, she gave birth to Jasper, but the way it happened didn't go as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions.
Jasper's parents are on the other side of the world in China.
"I couldn't even fully experience the whole delivery because I was so focused on getting the video right away of him being born so that the parents could hear his first cry cause. You can't ever get that moment back with your baby," Regan said.
It took six weeks for Jasper to meet his parents. During that time, a nanny with Egg Donor and Surrogacy Institute took care of him.
"What's happening now with COVID is really something that is completely out of the ordinary," said Parham Zar, managing director of the institute in Los Angeles.
He says so far, his staff has helped 27 international couples who could not witness the birth of their child.
"We have set up apartments with two or three bedrooms cameras all over so that the baby and the nanny will stay in one of the bedrooms and the parents are able to see the child 24/7," Zar said.
Zar says once the child is born, parents can begin the travel process but have to fly from countries where foreign nationals aren't prohibited from entering the US.
Regan says the wait was worth it for Jasper's parents, explaining, "She sends me pictures all the time and always expresses how much she loves me and how I'm their hero and it's amazing to hear that from them."
According to the CDC as of Sept. 20, the list of countries where travelers cannot enter the US from includes: China, Iran, the UK, Ireland, Brazil and about 26 countries in Europe.