Surrogate Still Caring for Baby Nearly 1 Year Later as COVID Prevents Parents from Leaving China

"I can’t believe how much time has passed," Emily Chrislip said of caring for the baby girl for the last ten months

The Idaho woman, who agreed to serve as a surrogate for a couple in China, is still caring for their baby close to one year later due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Emily Chrislip gave birth to a baby girl in May 2020 but pandemic-related travel restrictions at the time prevented her biological parents from coming to the U.S., PEOPLE previously reported.

Though Emily and her husband Brandon had the option of leaving the baby with a nanny agency, they decided to personally care for her after the parents asked them to step in.

"At first, we thought it would be a max four weeks, and then it kept getting longer and longer," Emily, 25, told PEOPLE in September. "We've just accepted that we don't know... but we wouldn't have it any other way."

Now, ten months after her birth, the Chrislips are still caring for the infant, as her biological parents search for a safe way to get to the U.S. and finally meet their daughter, ABC affiliate KIVI-TV reported.

"I can't believe how much time has passed," Emily told the outlet. "It seems like it's gone very fast so it's different when you sit down and think about the situation."

"But on a day-to-day basis, we just get through it and keep going on about our day and so it doesn't seem too out of the ordinary anymore," she continued. "We're hoping that they will be able to get here before her first birthday in May."

Emily served as a gestational carrier for a Chinese couple
Emily Chrislip with her husband Brandon and their son. Breana Thomas Photography/Courtesy of Chrislip family

"The biggest concern is the restrictions," she added. "I don't think they'll have a problem getting to the U.S., but getting back into Asia, they might have problems. So we're trying to wait and see what happens with all the restrictions."

Emily, who shares son Camden with Brandon, was chosen as a surrogate for the couple in China in September 2019.

The initial plan was to have the parents travel to America and be there for the baby's birth before taking her home, Emily previously told PEOPLE.

"We were going to let them be in the delivery room to see her be born and then they would have had their own room at the hospital with her and my husband and I would have had our own room," she explained. "At the time of birth, my job was supposed to be completed."

But then the pandemic happened, leading the little girl to spend the first months of her life with the Chrislips and without her biological parents.

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In the months following the baby's birth, Emily said the reunification process has been difficult because it could take the parents up to three months to travel to the U.S. and get their daughter.

"I just don't know if they can take that amount of time off of work," she explained to KIVI. "I know some people would be like, 'Well it's their child,' but for us too."

"My husband and I have talked about it and our job is our livelihood, and that's how we pay for things so we have to work around that for ourselves too," Emily added.

She also noted that the biological parents are worried about restrictions in each country and potentially exposing their child to COVID-19 on the multiple flights they'll have to take.

"Something that I have to remember is they live in a whole other country and it's a whole different kind of government than we have," Emily told KIVI. "In the U.S. we're very free to speak our mind do what we want and in China, that's not the case. If they're told do something they do it."

In order to speed up the process, Emily said she's enlisted the help of Idaho senator Jim Risch, KIVI reported. His team is currently helping with passports "to get it expedited a little bit," she told the outlet.

While she and Brandon remain hopeful that they will give the baby girl to her biological parents soon, Emily acknowledged that when that day finally comes, it will undoubtedly be difficult.

"I think that it has been easier for me than Brandon," she told PEOPLE in September of bonding with the child. "He loves babies and kids and is a big softy. I try to keep some of my barriers up, but I don't know about Brandon."

"We definitely love her and will always care for her but we understand she is not ours," she added.

Emily also noted that she doesn't see herself serving as a surrogate again — unless it's for the same couple.

"I think if this pandemic didn't occur, I would consider it more," Emily explained. "I don't know if I could go through something like this again. I would consider it for the same parents, though, if they ever wanted to have more children."

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