Author: Daniel Pyne
Miami is consistently a popular destination for tourists, and with its exciting nightlife, beautiful beaches and fantastic weather year-round, it’s not difficult to see why. For a growing number of Russian women, however, it’s the prospect of giving birth in another country that brings them to this city in a process known as birth tourism.
So, what is birth tourism? If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Today, we will shed some light on this concept.
What is Birth Tourism?
The definition of birth tourism involves travel to another country for the express purpose of giving birth there. Popular destinations include the United States, with Miami being a favorite destination for mothers from the CIS region and Southern California for Chinese mothers. Other popular destinations include Canada and Hong Kong.
Why Birth Tourism?
The growth of birth tourism can be broken down into these three factors:
Secure Citizenship for Children
Securing citizenship for the child is the primary factor for the rise in birth tourism. Many parents want to give birth to their children in another country so that their children will acquire citizenship in that country or have dual citizenship in their birth country as well as their parent’s homeland.
Some nations, like the U.S., follow the doctrine of ‘jus soli,‘ meaning ‘right to earth.’ This suggests that if one is born in a particular place, then the child has the right to live and work in that country. Furthermore, some nations provide services to their citizens such as free education and healthcare that the child would qualify for as well.
Safe and Healthy Delivery
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 830 women die each day due to preventable complications from childbirth and pregnancy, 99% of which occur in developing countries. Many mothers feel more protected with medical practitioners in other countries and prefer to go where they feel more confident in safe delivery.
Political Realities at Home
Some countries may have policies influencing the parent’s ability to have children. China, for example, limits the number of children a family can have to two. As such, the parents travel to another destination to give birth. This act would not violate China’s two-child policy because the third child has citizenship from another country.
What does Birth Tourism Look Like?
A niche industry has grown in destination countries to help mothers organize their birth tourism trips. From securing accommodations to booking doctors and obtaining a passport for the child, companies like SVM-MED and Miami Mama help these families throughout the entire process. They also counsel them on how to deal with U.S. immigration officials.
“We tell every client, ‘You have the documents, you have to tell the truth,’” says Konstantin Lubnevskiy, owner of Miami Mama, in an interview with NBC News. “This is America. They like the truth here.”
The packages can range from $20,000 for a 3-month stay in a Miami suburb and medical care to an almost $100,000 package that includes a chauffeur and a gold-tiled bathtub in Trump Tower II in Miami. One birth tourism facilitator even boasts about the accommodations they offer as “designed by the American multibillionaire Donald Trump himself.”
These packages obviously cater to the people who can afford them. Therefore, giving birth in Miami is a status symbol in Russia. It is common on Instagram to see shots of mothers with their newborns in their arms accompanied by the Russian hashtag “#BirthsInMiami.” The growing middle- and upper class in China and Russia are fueling this trend, but for these parents birth tourism is about more than just being fashionable. It is about providing a better future for their children.
While there is no official data on the number of birth tourists who travel to the U.S., the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration laws, estimates that 36,000 babies in the U.S. are born to foreign nationals each year. Since 2000, the number of foreign nationals who give birth in the state of Florida has increased by 200%. Currently, there are no laws that dictate whether pregnant foreign nationals can give birth in the U.S., but a shifting political environment could lead to potential changes in the future.
Stay on top of the latest changes and trends in the medical tourism industry by joining the Medical Tourism Association.