Happy Thanksgiving from Circle Surrogacy

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Beginning the holiday season is exciting. It’s magical. On the other hand, it can be stressful and slightly inconvenient.

Without weighing the pros and cons of what the holiday season means, it’s not difficult to be grateful for the reminder Thanksgiving brings. The prompt of this holiday to stop and take an inventory of all the blessings in our lives is what makes this time of year so special. When we’re usually focused on tackling the problem at hand, it’s a welcome reprieve to change the channel in order to see all of the good.

We asked around the office and came up with a lengthy list to help inspire your because the possibility for gratitude is simply endless.

Health. Family. Friends. Breath. Food on the table. Technology to keep our far loved ones near. Heat. Air conditioning. Homes. Coffee. Tea. Water. Running water. Wine. More wine. Thanksgiving pies. Gym memberships going on sale during the holidays. Clothes to keep us warm.  The sun. The moon. The lightbulbs. Smiles. Laughter. Jokes. All the dollars we have, no matter how many or how few. Our employees. Our employer. Music. Dancing. Art. Painting. Writing. Books. New ideas. Entertainment. Entertainment on the go–on our phones, in our cars, on the train, especially in the aeroplane. Flight. Chocolate. Sugar. Those online videos that show us new ways to mix our chocolate and our sugar.

That only covers a small piece. We hope you keep the tradition going and spend a time listing everything and everyone you are grateful for this holiday season.

Cheers and love from the Circle Family!

New York City – Circle Surrogacy Reunion

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Over 100 people gathered with us at Chelsea Piers last Sunday for a Circle Surrogacy Family Reunion. Parents who had completed their journey over a decade ago mingled with intended parents who just embarked on their journey.

Several employees attended as well. Jenn Skarinka, Travel and Events Manager and organizer of the reunion said, “The sweetest thing I saw was one couple holding another couple’s baby. The joy in their faces was just priceless. I definitely choked back happy tears after seeing that. It hit me. This is why we do what we do.”

One of the best benefits of the event was that kids born through surrogacy got to meet and play with one another while parents shared their stories with people they felt could truly understand.

The kids (and even some of the adults) enjoyed the balloon maker, face painter, and the coloring books.

Jen Rachman, who works as a Circle Surrogacy Outreach Coordinator, attended the event as an employee and a former intended parent. Jen and her husband had their son with Circle in 2012. She said listening to those with children mentor those currently in the program was inspiring. Another highlight for Jen included meeting children of parents she consulted with at the beginning of their journeys.

Jen said, “The best part was telling my son every child in that room was born through surrogacy just as he was.”

Jen Rachman and Jenn Skarinka were joined by several other Circle employees including John Weltman, Founder and President along with his husband, Cliff Atkins, Executive Vice President, (Cliff and John had their two sons through surrogacy); Scott Buckley, Director of Operations; Gina-Marie Madow, attorney; Erin Sougstad, attorney; Nancy Weatherby, client development and parent through surrogacy; and Dory Ziperstein, program manager.

Dory shared that the best part for her was seeing parents and children in person. She said, “At Circle, I get to be a part of their journeys from a distance—emails, skypes, and phone calls. This made it all real. To hug these parents I had worked with for years and for them to hand their babies to me to hold was truly magical. Surrogacy is an amazing journey and an incredible process, and this reunion summed it up so well.”

We are grateful for all of our intended parents who allow us to be a small part of their family story. Cheers to many more reunions to come!

Take a look below to see how far Circle Surrogacy has come in the last 20-plus years.

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Kim Kardashian Discusses Why She is Exploring Surrogacy on Keeping Up With the Kardashians

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On Sunday night’s episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kim Kardashian considers surrogacy to have her third child. After her doctor informs her of the risks associated with another pregnancy, she begins to explore other options.

We love to see public figures discussing surrogacy. It’s a topic our community knows well, however, most people have a lot of questions about the process. Also, it’s inspiring to see a star, like Kim, share her infertility struggle in such an authentic way.

Inviting 3 million viewers to learn more about surrogacy is phenomenal. In only one hour, KUWTK was only able to provide some basic information. Below we highlighted four scenes from the episode to keep this conversation going.

Applying to Becoming a Surrogate

In the episode, Kim visits with a woman named Natalie to learn more. Natalie, who gave birth to one of her children and worked with a surrogate to have another child, explains how important it is for a surrogate to understand the process.

We agree. Screening involves a review of the applicant’s medical records and pregnancy history as well as an evaluation with one of our licensed social workers. In addition to screening, we provide substantial support to our surrogate carriers including monthly check-ins with a licensed social worker, a private forum where current and former surrogates support one another, and monthly video chats addressing various aspects of surrogacy.

[Learn more about our surrogate requirements here.]

How Many Times Can a Woman Be a Surrogate?

On KUWTK, Natalie says her gestational carrier did three surrogacy journeys. Doing three journeys is incredibly generous. However, it’s rare for a woman to take on more than two surrogacy journeys.

Clinics determine how many journeys a woman can do. The assessment is based on a woman’s pregnancy records. It’s important to note that a woman must give birth to her own child (or children) in order to become a surrogate.

The Relationship-Based Model: Intended Parents and Surrogates

While Natalie reports that she and her surrogate aren’t in touch, we encourage intended parents and surrogates to develop a relationship. Research has shown that children have a better sense of identity when they know about their origin.

Many of our intended parents and surrogates walk away from the process with new extended family members.

How Do You Know When You Need to Explore Surrogacy?

At the end of the episode, Kim says, “So I’ve made up my mind that I can’t carry another one, and now I just want to explore surrogacy.”

Making the decision to have a child via surrogacy after battling infertility is a difficult choice. Intended parents come to us after they have explored all of their options to conceive.

Ask Questions

In addition to being a surrogacy agency, we are also a resource. If you have questions about the surrogacy process, please reach out to me (Lauren) at lmuscarella@circlesurrogacy.com.

Becoming a surrogate can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. To learn more about becoming a surrogate, click here.

 

Increased Expedited Screening Bonus: Now $350 – Circle Surrogacy

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$350 Expedited Screening Bonus. 

Becoming a surrogate can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Many surrogates stay in touch with intended parents regularly and feel like their extended family expands as a result of their journey. Financial compensation is the only way intended parents can express fully their appreciation to surrogates and their families.

As part of that compensation, we have always had an expedited bonus. Recently, we increased the expedited bonus by $100 to a total of $350.

Surrogates are eligible to receive the $350 BONUS if the following requirements are completed within three weeks of submitting the Surrogate Application:

    • Previous Prenatal and Delivery Records
    • Medical Pre-approval
    • Social Work Screening for Surrogate as well as Surrogate’s Primary Support Person
    • In order to receive this BONUS of $350, you must match with intended parents in our program. 

This amount is deducted from your base fee, but it will be deposited shortly after matching, prior to receiving any other surrogacy payments. Then you receive a $500 advance after you complete your medical screening. Please note, these two payments are deducted from your total base fee. To learn more about the benefits of being a surrogate with Circle Surrogacy, click here.

If you are ready to begin the process of becoming a surrogate, click the icon below:

apply now

VIDEO: Three Types of Egg Donation – Anonymous, Semi-known, & Known

Watch Circle Surrogacy and Egg Donation attorney and four-time egg donor Gina-Marie Madow explain the three types of egg donation.

Last Saturday, we traveled to Marlborough, Massachusetts to attend the RESOLVE New England conference.RESOLVE New England is an non-profit dedicated to connecting the New England community on the many paths to parenthood, specifically for parents struggling to conceive. This support network meets to provide resources, information, and guidance throughout the process.

While there, Gina-Marie moderated a panel of parents discussing their experiences having donor-conceived children. In the session, she provided couples with essential information about the types of egg donation in terms of contact with the egg donor. (Side note: the panel discussed sperm donation as well but that was not our focus.)

In this video, Gina-Marie references a few useful resources including:

The Donor Sibling Registry – This is a website and non-profit organization serving donor offspring, sperm donors, egg donors and other donor conceived people. Learn more here.

Having your baby through egg donationHaving your Baby Through Egg Donation by Ellen Glazer.

Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation is a helpful, authoritative guide to negotiating the complex and emotive issues that arise for those considering whether or not to pursue egg donation. It presents information clearly and with compassion, exploring the practical, financial, logistical, social and ethical questions that commonly arise. This fully updated second edition also includes recent developments in the field, including travelling for egg donation and the emerging field of epigenetics.

 

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Finding Our Families by Wendy Kramer

Wendy Kramer, founder and director of the Donor Sibling Registry, and Naomi Cahn, family and reproductive law professor, have compiled a comprehensive and thorough guide for the growing community of families with donor-conceived children. Kramer and Cahn believe that all donor-conceived children’s desire to know their genetic family must be honored, and in Finding Our Families, they offer advice on how to foster healthy relationships within immediate families and their larger donor family networks based on openness and acceptance.

 

The Science Behind HIV Positive Dads and Their HIV Negative Kids

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Circle Surrogacy and Egg Donation founder and president John Weltman contributed to an important piece that appeared in The SciTech Lawyer this past summer. The piece is called, Wishes Granted: The Science Behind HIV Positive Dads and Their HIV Negative Kids.

[Read the full article here.]

The SciTech Lawyer is a quarterly publication for the Science & Technology Law Section of the American Bar Association. Its mission is to provide information about current developments in law, science, medicine, and technology. The Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR), the program that makes HIV-positive parents able to have HIV-negative children, welcomed its first baby in 1999, yet a majority of people have never heard of this technology.

Since the first SPAR baby was born in May 1999, there have been 272 births via SPAR, which involves sperm washing (the same can be done with eggs) for safe IVF transfer. They have had a 100 percent success rate with these procedures. SPAR is becoming more accessible and more affordable, however, opposition to HIV-positive individuals becoming parents via IVF is still an unfortunate reality. Moreover, many men and women with HIV assume becoming a biological parent is not an option. This is why increased awareness is essential.

We hope you take a few moments to read Wishes Granted: The Science Behind HIV Positive Dads and Their HIV Negative Kids, and help us spread the word about this miraculous technology that we have seen make dreams come true for several families.

 

Outreach Coordinator Jen Rachman on Stupid Cancer Podcast

Stupid Cancer is the largest non-profit that comprehensively addresses young adult cancer through advocacy, research, support, outreach, awareness, mobile health, and social media. Previously, this group of millions had been overlooked. Generally, people think cancer patients are older, however, there are 72,000 new diagnoses each for people age 15-39.

One of their programs involves a regular podcast to tell stories from and for the community. Episode 400 (embedded above!) features our very own Jen Rachman, Circle Surrogacy Outreach Coordinator and licensed social worker.

Jen is LOVED throughout the office. When you meet her, it’s instantly obvious she is a wonderful person to know–kind, articulate, gracious, and strong. Jen is an ovarian cancer survivor, who originally came to Circle to become a parent (with her husband) through surrogacy. Their son is now 4 years old. Since her journey, she started speaking with Circle founder, John Weltman, about how she might contribute to the team. That led to her role as outreach coordinator. In this role, she works with intended parents at the early decision-making stage.

For intended parents who come to Circle after being affected by a cancer diagnosis, they are immediately connected to Jen.

She is passionate about educating individuals about their fertility options, which we greatly admire. In episode 400 of the Stupid Cancer podcast, Jen shares she journey from diagnosis to becoming a parent.

 

New Fertility Research Study about Traveling Abroad for Treatments

Recently Amy Speier, Assistant Professor of Anthropolofertility holidays book covergy at the University of Texas at Arlington, contacted us about a new research study she is doing about traveling for fertility treatments. Below we’ve included a letter she has written asking parents to participate in this study. Learning more about individual experiences with infertility can help many people who are currently struggling. Read below to learn more.  

From Amy Speier:

I would love to speak with you about your experiences traveling for fertility treatment. I would like to know how you found out about reproductive travel, how you came to make the decision to travel abroad for treatment, and also about your successes and struggles throughout the process.

I have spent nearly the past decade meeting with people who have tried desperately to have a child, speaking with them as they undergo fertility treatment in a country other than their own. My recent book Fertility Holidays documents the experiences of North Americans who traveled to the Czech Republic for IVF using an egg donor.

Ultimately, I am conducting a research study that will document what you and others like you are going through in your quest for a family. However, your identity will be protected and your privacy respected. I would love to speak with you about your experiences when it is most convenient for you. You can expect to have a conversation with me, either in person or via Skype–whichever you prefer.

If you are interested and/or have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email at speier@uta.edu, sperieramy@gmail.com or by my cell phone: 920-284-7461.

Given the global nature of creating families today and the growing numbers of hopeful parents who must leave their home countries to create a family via reproductive medicine, I think your stories and experiences must be understood and shared so that others may have information when embarking on similar journeys.

Best, Amy

Photos from Our Circle Surrogacy Oslo Reunion

Both Brett Griffin-Young (International Outreach Associate) and Dean Hutchison (Director of Legal Services) traveled to Oslo, Norway over the summer to meet with intended parents at the beginning of their journey. They also put together a reunion (with the help of Jenn Skarinka, our in-house event planner) to meet with families who have had their babies with Circle throughout the years.

Dean Hutchison brought back some excellent photos to share with you! (See below!!) And he has this to say about the experience:

“The reunion could not have been nicer. It was wonderful to see the parents and children meeting each other and enjoying the beautiful day. This was the final afternoon of my trip, which was spent meeting with intended parents who are considering the surrogacy process. It was nice to conclude the trip on the grill and playing on the swingset. We had a beautiful trek to Frognerseteren overlooking the Oslo fjord and city too. The relationships we have built with our Circle families make each trip better than the one before.”

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New England Reunion Photos – Circle Surrogacy

On September 10, we hosted a New England reunion for our parents and children on Castle Island located on the shore of the Boston Harbor.

We were delighted to see many families who worked with us to have children throughout the last 20 years.

We’d like to acknowledge Jenn Skarinka. Jenn coordinates all of our Circle events flawlessly and this event was no different.

The photos are from Gene. He is pictured below with his son.

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