16 Feb 2022 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating Star Born through Assisted Reproduction
If the story of the 16-year-old U.S. figure skating phenom nearly sidelined from the Beijing Olympics by a COVID diagnosis wasn’t dramatic enough, the story of Alysa Liu’s heritage is a real page-turner.
Liu’s father, Junguo (Arthur) Liu, is a story in himself. A hero of the Chinese student democracy movement of the late 1980s, he smuggled out of the country in fear for his life, eventually ending up in Oakland, California, as reported by Sports Illustrated in 2019. After working as a busboy at a Berkeley restaurant, in 1998 Arthur graduated from the University of California Hastings College of Law and set up a legal practice in Oakland.
Inspired by the desire for a large family like the one he left behind in China, Arthur conceived Alysa and her four younger siblings using egg donation, in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, using two different egg donors and two surrogates. His ex-wife, Yan (Mary) Quingxin, is the children’s legal guardian and “mom,” with whom the children continue to reside parttime.
Five Siblings Conceived via Egg Donation, Surrogacy
Alysa was conceived using a different egg donor than her siblings, sister Selina and triplets Joshua, Justin and Julia. Both egg donors were white, reflecting both Arthur’s desire for his children to benefit from the genetic diversity and his view of his own life as a fusion of cultures, he told Sports Illustrated.
Alysa also is the only one of her siblings who skates. Arthur, the quintessential “skate dad,” has been taking her to the rink since age 5, and it paid off. At age 13, she became the youngest woman to win a U.S. championship title and the youngest skater in history to win back-to-back titles in 2019 and 2020, as reported by news site Romper.com.
Alyssa says she was about 8 years old when she began to realize that she didn’t look like either her dad or her mom, who also is Chinese. Both Arthur and Alysa have openly shared Alysa’s “origin story,” and in a recent television interview alongside her father, she spoke of how proud she is of him for creating their family.
As I wrote recently, when children born via assisted IVF and/or surrogacy are brought up with the truth, their questions answered honestly with age-appropriate information throughout their childhoods, they tend to accept the facts of their births as “normal.” Just as my boys, who have two gay dads, began to notice as preschoolers that not all families look the same, Alysa figured things out at an early age. Fortunately, her father and family chose to celebrate their story of diversity, making the amazing saga of a young Olympian just that much more amazing, and showing the world the miraculous opportunities offered by assisted reproductive technology.