Four years, two continents: a gay Chinese couple’s journey for a surrogate son

Li and Xu fell in love in a country where gay marriage and surrogacy are illegal. Their story is part of a growing trend

Before Qiguang Li could pass through customs and step on to US soil for the first time, he faced a three-hour detention where he learned that he needed to be more candid about his identity. It was September 2015, after a long flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles. Li came with another man, Wei Xu, who asked a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer whether the two of them could go through the border screening together. “What’s your relationship?” asked the officer. They said they were friends. “Then you can’t.”

So Xu went first and passed the screening. He forgot one important thing, though: Li’s travel documents were in Xu’s bag. Li, 37 at the time, spoke poorer English and couldn’t properly explain to the officer what had happened. After a while of anxious waiting, Xu returned to the checkpoint to look for Li, still unaware of his mistake, and they were both sent to a room for additional screening.

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