The Circle Team Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s nice to have a holiday that reminds you to reflect on your life and think of all there is to be thankful for. Health. Family. Friends. Warm food. Beautiful weather. Jobs. Art. Life.

We asked around the Circle office to find out what our employees are thankful for. We’d love to hear what you’re thankful for too. If you have a minute, write your thanks on our Facebook wall:

And take a look at what we are thankful for below!

thanksgiving graphic

5 Gift Ideas to Give Back This Holiday Season

Generosity and gratitude are two common themes around the Circle office. In addition to a team of people who dedicate their time to help others, we are lucky enough to meet wonderful souls–both surrogates and intended parents.

Given that, we assembled a list of gift ideas that give back. First off, we all could use some gift ideas no matter what time of year it is. Plus, it feels that much better to give a gift when you know your money won’t just make your loved one delighted, it will also make our world a better place.

Here are our top five finds that put the give in giving gifts:

Gift Ideas to Give Back

#1 St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Teams Up with West Elm

West Elm sells mugs, bowls, totes, pillows, purses and ornaments! And, 50% of the purchase price of these products goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to fight childhood cancer.

See this year’s West Elm collection of holiday gifts benefitting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.


#2 glassbaby Candlescharitable candles

glassbaby was founded by Lee Rhodes after she was diagnosed with cancer. At first she sold candles out of her garage and donated the proceeds to others struggling with cancer.

Now the power of giving candles’ mission has expanded. glassbaby features candles from a variety of organizations including the American Lung Association and the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. Also, 10% from the sale of every glassybaby candle will be donated directly to glassybaby white light fund to give financial and emotional assistance to those in need.

Click through to peruse their full candle collection.


eva clutch desenyo

#3 Dsenyo – a social enterprise, ethical fashion brand, and fair trade gifts company.

Dsenyo creates sustainable jobs for female artisans in Malawi, Zambia, and Brazil. The shop includes a variety of items including jewelry, apparel, and home decor.

Shop Dsenyo to find a unique gift this season.


#4 Turquoise and Gold Awali Stretch Bracelet

15% of net profits from this bracelet fund microloanthe gift of givings and financial training for widowed women rebuilding their lives through entrepreneurship in villages outside of Kitale, Kenya through a partnership with the Sisi Fund.

Buy your bracelet and learn more here.


#5 Rosie’s Place Online Gift Shop

Rosie’s Place, founded in 1974, Rosie's Placeprovides shelter, meals, and support to poor and homeless women in Boston, Massachusetts. RP’s Women’s Craft Collective program hires those same women to create gifts. Proceeds support Rosie’s Place, while also teaching the artisans valuable job skills and providing employment.

Check out their line of bookmarks, barrettes, jewelry, cufflinks and more.

Surrogate Profile: Meet Melanie

surrogate profile

Having seen a few friends struggle through their own problems with infertility, Melanie was inspired despite witnessing the heartbreak. She wanted to do something to help people experiencing the same hardship.

Not to mention, bringing babies into the world has been part of her family history for decades—Melanie’s mother was a labor room nurse for over 20 years. Plus Melanie donated her eggs six years before exploring the idea of becoming a surrogate.

Melanie had thought about applying to be a surrogate from time to time. Then when she saw information on Circle’s Facebook page one day, she started to get more serious about filling out an application. She felt it was the right time. She knew she was done having children of her own and that she could give another family a wonderful gift.

In part, she describes her journey as positive because she and her intended parents have a great relationship. However, she almost said no to her first match (a gay couple from Europe) when she found out the travel involved for their case, but now she says she’s glad she agreed to match with them.

“We’ve become very good friends since being matched,” she said. “They’ve even insisted on flying me over for the Christening of their twin babies in 2017!”

From their first meeting at the first transfer, they instantly hit it off and became friends. Her mother came along for the visit and fell in love with her intended parents too.

“Sometimes my mom calls them her sons-in-law. She just loves them,” Melanie says. “We probably have a closer relationship than most surrogates and intended parents”

In the delivery room a few weeks ago when the baby twins were delivered by scheduled c-section, her intended parents were blown away.

“I was so emotional for them,” Melanie says. “They looked stunned. Nothing prepares you for seeing your child and holding your child for the first time. I was overwhelmed with joy for them.”

Melanie shared that their excitement took her back to the day her daughter, now 14 years old, was born. When asked how her daughter reacted to the idea of being a surrogate, she replied, “Initially she didn’t understand why I would want to become a surrogate. But once she met my intended parents—she fell in love with them too. She saw why I wanted to help another family become complete. Now she’s very proud. She thinks it’s cool.”

Melanie’s intended parents are in town for a little while longer to finalize documentation for their twins so everyone—Melanie, her daughter, her mother and her intended parents with twins in tow—is having a great time bonding before they head back overseas.

Surrogate Profile: Meet Jacquelyn

surrogate profile

When Jacquelyn’s youngest child was only 10 weeks old, she already missed being pregnant. Then while doing some everyday Web surfing she saw a photo of two dads holding their newborn baby skin to skin. She read about their family journey working with a surrogate to have their first child and thought, “I can do that.” Then she asked, “How do I do that?”

At the time, Jacquelyn wasn’t very familiar with surrogacy. She’d heard of it but wasn’t sure how the full process worked with an agency and matching with a family. She began doing research to find out more.

She also discussed it with her husband. He was very supportive as long as there was no genetic connection. Once he learned about gestational surrogacy, he was proud of his wife for wanting to do something so generous.

When she started the application, Jac (a nickname from her family and friends) was still breastfeeding. She waited the appropriate time before being matched.

She filled out the application in July of 2014 and she was matched by October of 2014. The first match she received was a gay couple and Jac says, “We clicked right away.”

With a due date in early January of 2016, currently their conversations revolve around advice for when the baby comes. Jacqueline has a lot to share. She has two children under 3 with a little more than a year age difference between them.

Jac’s first practical tip was: “Learn to use the car seat!” Her other tip involves the elusive sleep. You always hear that a mother is up for days after the baby is born breastfeeding, but she told them a secret. It’s not the breastfeeding that keeps you up—or the crying. It’s the staring. She said, “When you look at your first baby, you can’t stop for hours. The time flies by and the next thing you know, you haven’t slept in three days.”

Jac, who works as a pharmacy technician and has a biology degree, says she most looks forward to hearing from her intended parents when they are in the throes of parenting. And her favorite part of being a surrogate is how important it feels. She said it feels like she is doing something meaningful every second of every day that her intended parent’s little baby is growing in her womb.

VIDEO: Working at Circle for Over 5 Years – 20th Anniversary Project

Working at Circle for Over 5 Years – 20th Anniversary Project from Circle Surrogacy on Vimeo.

In honor of the anniversary, we wanted to do something to honor our team. You may know some members. You may not know any. But let me tell you, they are incredible.

We like each other. We admire one another. We want you to get to know some of these amazing people too. Every few weeks we’ll post a new video to give you a glimpse into the World of Circle.

Get ready to watch Video Number 2 of our 20th Anniversary Series. In this video, you will hear from our Operations Accountant Melissa Ford Riccioli as she shares the best part of working at Circle!

VIDEO: What Inspired Emily to Join Circle – 20th Anniversary Project

Emily Sonier 20 Years of Circle from Circle Surrogacy on Vimeo.

In honor of the anniversary, we wanted to do something to honor our team. You may know some members. You may not know any. But let me tell you, they are incredible.

We like each other. We admire one another. We want you to get to know some of these amazing people too. Every few weeks we’ll post a new video to give you a glimpse into the World of Circle. Our first video features Circle’s Clinical Director Emily Sonier. This video is the first of the series.

Negotiating Your Surrogacy Contract

surrogacy contract

It’s a wonderful thing when intended parents match with a surrogate. As their journey together commences, they develop a relationship like no other. However, the possibility of not seeing eye to eye on everything exists. And that is why a surrogacy contract, or what Circle calls a Carrier Agreement, is put into place.

There are certain topics intended parents and surrogates shouldn’t discuss without the presence of legal representation. Lawyers handle such matters, creating agreements on a range of issues, such as recovery period, the number of children to be had, maternity clothing costs, etc.

As you’ll want to give close consideration to your 
Carrier Agreement, here is a list of the most commonly negotiated topics.

Celibacy. You’ll be negotiating the amount of time your carrier is to be celibate. Many intended parents (IPs) agree upon one month before and after each transfer. This ensures that the surrogate does not become pregnant with her own child. It’s O.K. to change this clause to two weeks, especially if she has had a tubal ligation or her partner has had a vasectomy. However, letters from medical providers are required for proof of such procedures.

Compensation. While your surrogate receives a determined base fee, there are additional expenses you’ll have to negotiate. These include C-sections, invasive procedures, maternity clothing, and bed rest—among other things. Your attorney will negotiate a reasonable fee for each of these costs, often with a capped limit.

Lost Wages. If the surrogate works outside of the home, intended parents typically pay for her lost wages if she has to miss work or take a leave of absence. The thought process is that the surrogate should not have to make financial sacrifices as a consequence of her surrogacy arrangement. This fee applies to bed rest, as well.

Medical Decisions. Like any pregnancy, surrogacy carries some uncertainty with it. Intended parents and surrogates should be on the same page with regard to the number of embryos to be transferred, positions on abortion and selective reduction, as well as the number of fetuses to be carried. The issue of whether or not an amniocentesis is to be performed is often determined, as well. The contract helps to ensure that these issues are agreed upon by all parties before moving forward.

Payments. Before finalizing your contract, you’ll want to have discussed when payments are to be made, determine who is to handle the financial coordination, decide on the amount of each payment, work out the additional expenses, and decide if fees are to be held securely in an escrow account.

Post-Birth Contact. This aspect of the surrogacy arrangement affects what happens after the delivery of the child, how the child is handed over to his or her parents, whether future contact may be made, and if information should be shared with the child. It is important to determine your stance on these points well before the birth of the baby.

Privacy Concerns. Your intentions for your relationship with your surrogate should be discussed for expectation and contract purposes. Circle Surrogacy encourages open and honest relationships between intended parents and surrogates. But it’s useful to address your plans for correspondence during and after the surrogacy process. Things to consider are whether or not to disclose your surrogacy arrangement with the public or news and whether or not to reveal identifying information of the surrogate or egg donor to others. Since medical information will be exchanged, the contract should also state that HIPAA privacy rules are to be honored.

Pumping. Do you want your surrogate to pump breast milk? Is she willing to do so? How much are you willing to pay her for this service? How long are you planning to ask her to provide her breast milk? These are all questions that should be answered during the contracts stage of surrogacy. Keep in mind it is standard practice for IPs to financially compensate for pumping as it requires additional time and effort from the surrogate.

If you’re a tad overwhelmed, don’t be. Circle’s legal team is ready to assist you every step of the way, ensuring a finalized carrier agreement with which you are comfortable.

surrogacy contract



Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

20-Minute Surrogate Survey for $5 Amazon Card

Dr. Erika Fuchs, a researcher at The University of Texas Medical Branch, is doing a study on traditional surrogates and gestational carriers.  Dr. Fuchs, PhD, MPH is a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health at The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB Health).

We would like to invite surrogates who have worked with us  to participate in the research project.

The purpose of this study is to gather information on the experiences of traditional surrogates and gestational carriers in the United States.

Participants are asked to complete a 20-minute survey in exchange for a $5 Amazon credit.

Please click the link below to read more about or take part in the study.

You may contact the principal investigator of this study with any questions or concerns:

Erika Fuchs, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Fellow
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health
UTMB Health
(409) 747-4982