By KATIE KINDELAN and AMANDA MCMASTER, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Emily Chrislip, a 25-year-old mom from Idaho, thought her experience as a surrogate for a family in China would end after she gave birth.
Instead, Chrislip and her husband, Brandon, remain the temporary caregivers for the baby Chrislip gave birth to last May.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the baby, whose name and face the family are not revealing publicly due to privacy concerns, has remained with the Chrislips in Idaho for nearly one year instead of returning to her biological parents in China.
“We just felt that it was the right thing to do,” Chrislip told ABC News’ Erielle Reshef in an interview that aired Friday on “Good Morning America,” adding that she “wasn’t surprised” the baby’s parents asked her and Brandon to continue to care for the baby.
“We just couldn’t imagine her going to some nanny agency where they were going to take care of her, and we were capable,” she said. “We have a loving family and I’ve already carried her. So we said, ‘Let’s just do it."”
Chrislip and her husband are already the parents of a 2-year-old son, Camden.
They have been raising their surrogate baby as if she is an extended member of the family, according to Chrislip, who was matched with the biological family through an agency and had not met them prior to her pregnancy.
“I kind of view her as like my cousin’s child,” she said. “I care for her. I love her and I will always care for her, but I know she’s not mine and she belongs with her parents.”
The baby’s parents in China are paying her expenses and compensating the Chrislips for her care, according to Chrislip.
The two families video chat each week to try to get acquainted while living thousands of miles away.
Chrislip said she hopes the baby can be reunited with her parents before her first birthday in May, a first meeting Chrislip imagines will be very emotional.
“I picture all the time in my head all the different scenarios, and it just makes me emotional thinking about it,” she said. “I can only imagine the feeling that they’re going to have seeing their child for the first time.”
“Just as I see my own child when they are born, but they had to wait a whole year,” she added.
The baby’s biological parents are trying to work out the logistics of being able to travel from China to the U.S. and then back to China with their daughter, according to Chrislip.
“I’m hoping that when her parents get here, we can have a nice transition,” she said. “That they’ll be able to stay long enough in the United States that we can help her get acquainted with them and teach them about their daughter and teach them the little cues that she gives and how we know what they mean and just her schedule and just really helping her with the transition.”
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