How to Become a Surrogate Mother: A Brief Overview

So you’re thinking of becoming a surrogate mother. Allow me to begin by saying thank you – and congratulations! Becoming a surrogate mother is one of the most selfless things you can do for another human being.  As a surrogate myself, I can tell you that helping to create a family is also something you will feel extremely proud of and is sure to be an incredibly rewarding experience for both you and your family. There are several important steps you must take in order to become a surrogate mother and because this will be a very special time in your life, it’s helpful to have a general idea of the steps you will soon be taking.

How to Become a Surrogate Mother

RESEARCH

The first step is an important one. It’s time to do some research. Get online. Read articles and surrogacy guides. Follow surrogacy blogs. Research IVF. You’ll learn a great deal about the process and you’re likely to have many of your initial questions answered. You’ll also probably develop a few new questions you may not have thought of before. During this phase, it is my hope is that you’ll feel comfortable reaching out to me with those questions. It’s what I’m here for after all! I am confident that before long, you will feel 100% ready for the next step: applying.

APPLICATION

Circle Surrogacy makes it easy to apply to be a surrogate, directly from our website. We know that the application is lengthy and because we respect and appreciate your time, it is our goal to contact you regarding the status of your application within 24 hours. Our hope is that you will be as delighted to receive your welcome email from us, as we are to have you in our program. 

PRE-SCREENING

The next step in the process is pre-screening. During this phase, you will be working hand in hand with our pre-screening team, who will be helping you obtain all of the required paperwork for surrogacy. This includes photos, questionnaires, background checks, insurance information, and medical records. This paperwork allows us to create a strong profile for you and helps to pave the way for a smooth journey for you and your future intended parents. Once all of the necessary paperwork has been submitted, and your medical records have been reviewed and approved by one of our IVF physicians, we send your completed file to our social workers for screening.

SCREENING

how-to-become-surrogate-motherOur amazing social workers will contact you in order to set up a screening phone call with them. This phone call generally lasts 2-2 ½ hours and is used as an opportunity to get to know you better, review important timeline and compensation information with you and answer any questions you may have at this point in the process. The social worker will also schedule a time to speak with your primary support person as well as the references you will have provided for us during the pre-screening phase. Our social workers will also help you to arrange for you to take the MMPI, which is a screening done online, via webcam with a licensed psychologist. During this final part of the screening phase, your social worker is placing all of the final touches on your file in preparation for presenting it to potential Intended Parents. Your social worker will present you with a commitment letter and officially invite you into the Circle Surrogacy surrogate program. Welcome to the family! 

MATCHING

Shortly after the screening phase, you’ll reach a very exciting part of your journey. You’ll receive an intended parent profile to review. Simultaneously, we will send your profile to the prospective intended parents. You each have a few days to look over the profile and decide if this is someone you’d like to have a Skype conversation with. Your social worker will help to get this call scheduled and will ask that each of you touch base with us after that conversation takes place. If you each let us know that the call went great and that you’re excited about your future surrogacy journey together, we will consider you officially matched. You will be assigned a Journey Coordinator who will be there to guide you through all of the exciting next steps of your surrogacy journey. Your journey coordinator will be working hand in hand with you all the way through delivery.

Becoming a surrogate mother is a huge step in your life. We are thrilled to be able to help guide you through each of the steps of this process. Thank you for allowing us to do so. Most importantly, thank you for being who you are – a woman with a heart for surrogacy. 

Gay Surrogacy: Election Victories For LGBT Families

An Enormous Victory

Last week, Maryland, Maine, and Washington voters approved allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Minnesota voters rejected a proposal that would have amended the state’s constitution and defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. To top it off, Wisconsin elected the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin.

The results mean enormous victories for the LGBT community. And a great day for gay rights. So what does the expansion of marriage equality mean for gay surrogacy?

What Marriage Equality Means

Marriage equality breaks down legal and societal barriers to parenthood for gay and lesbian couples. It makes becoming a parent through surrogacy easier for the LGBT community.

The impact of marriage equality is huge. It opens up a host of state-level benefits to committed couples. It allows people to visit their spouses in hospitals, make medical decisions for each other, and receive health insurance and tax benefits.

At the federal level, recognition of same-sex marriage is still restricted by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which strips over a thousand rights and protections from married LGBT couples.

But state-level recognition of marriage is a huge step in a positive direction for gay couples. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni spoke to an elderly gay man from Maine, who called a successful referendum on marriage equality “something once unthinkable, something wondrous, something exhilarating, not a step but a leap.”

Growing Societal Acceptance

Growing approval of marriage equality reflects changing societal attitudes about LGBT rights. It means we’re moving forward. Each time a state approves marriage equality, we chip away at the barriers that prevent two men from becoming two dads and two women from becoming two moms.

But marriage equality is not just a reflection of positive change; it is a means for positive change. In Massachusetts, the state which has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the longest, 58% of residents believed gay marriage should be legal and 86% said that the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts had either a positive effect or no effect at all on their lives, according to a March 2012 poll. Among the country’s general public, support for marriage equality is reliably above 50%, having surpassed a majority in the last few years.

While a total of 6 states allowed marriage licenses to same-sex couples before the election, yesterday marked a turning point—the first time that marriage equality had passed by voter referendum. Previous decisions came by court decision or legislative action.

Dismantling Legal Barriers

Those who pursue surrogacy need to ensure they safeguard their parental rights. This almost always involves a form of legal proceeding.

There’s a patchwork of possibilities. There may be a judgment of paternity/maternity, a pre-birth order, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, a stepparent adoption or second-parent adoption. The legal route chosen can depend on where the intended parents live, where the surrogate lives and delivers the child, and whether each intended parent is single, in a heterosexual relationship, or in a same-sex relationship.

In many states, the procedure is easier if you are married. Intended parents’ ability to marry their partners can affect the legal work required. In some states, pre-birth orders may only be offered to couples who are legally married. In others, being married may make the process of securing parentage faster and smoother, as it did when Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The barriers to gay surrogacy still exist. But they are crumbling slowly. Last week, voters across the nation recognized that committed same-sex couples deserve the same rights and benefits, by the same name, as heterosexual couples. In doing so, they advanced the ability of gay and lesbian couples to build families through surrogacy.

Circle Surrogacy has been helping same-sex couples become parents through surrogacy since 1995. Our attorneys are experts in surrogacy law and in securing legal parentage for same-sex couples.

photo credit (1): Vox Efx via photopin cc

photo credit (2): Jason Pier in DC via photopin cc

Surrogacy Lawyer: Scott Buckley Named to New England Super Lawyers Rising Stars List

 

scott buckleyWe are fortunate to have a very talented legal team and are happy to help anyone who needs a surrogacy lawyer. Our Director of Legal Services and COO, Scott Buckley, was recently recognized for his achievements in family law when Super Lawyers honored him as a Rising Star in their family law category for the New England region. Their selection process for this recognition is:

1) to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for ten years or less; 2) Candidates for Rising Stars do not go through … peer evaluation by practice area. While up to five percent of the lawyers in the state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

He joins Circle colleagues and fellow attorneys John Weltman and Dean Hutchinson in being recognized by Super Lawyers – John has been a super lawyer in the past, and Dean has also been named a rising star. All are experts in surrogacy law. Scott’s practice at Circle comprises all aspects of surrogacy law – he handles birth orders, second-parent adoptions, and surrogacy adoptions for our parents and surrogates, for both US and International clients. Please view the digital edition of the magazine here, and to speak with Scott, please feel free to email him.

If you are an intended parent interested in having a child through surrogacy with legal questions, you may also click the button below to download our Introduction to Surrogacy guide, and a member of our team will follow up with you.


Surrogacy Law: A Round-up of Recent Legislation Efforts

Today is Election Day here in the United States. In honor of political action, we’re summing up recent surrogacy legislation efforts across the country:

California

In September 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a surrogacy law allowing “assisted reproductive agreements for gestational carriers” and outlining the procedures for establishing parentage following a surrogacy arrangement. The legislation continues California’s favorable history on surrogacy issues. In the past, favorable state Supreme Court decisions like Johnson v. Calvert (1993), which
established the precedent that the procreative intent of the parties would guide 
the determination of parentage, guided surrogacy decisions in court.

Under the new law, surrogacy arrangements are regulated by a statute which states that a “judgment or order shall establish the parent-child relationship of the intended parent or intended parents identified in the surrogacy agreement and shall establish that the surrogate, her spouse, or partner is not a parent of, and has no parental rights or duties with respect to, the child or children.”

New Jersey

August marked the end of legislators’ efforts to pass the New Jersey Gestational Carrier Agreement Act, when Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill passed by the state’s legislature. The law would have included the following provisions:

  • Gestational carrier agreements would be explicitly recognized,
  • Best interests of children would be protected by legal standards and safeguards,
  • Rights of intended parents would be secure immediately upon birth, and
  • Diversity of intended parents who pursue surrogacy would be protected by law which recognizes surrogacy for married couples and those in civil unions and domestic partnerships.

The Governor cited his concern about the “profound change in the traditional beginnings of a family that this bill would enact.” He said that “permitting adults to contract with others regarding a child … unquestionably raises serious and significant issues.”

Washington

A bill which would have repealed the ban on compensated surrogacy got caught in the political crossfire in the spring of 2011. Lawmakers eventually dismantled the surrogacy bill’s language permitting compensated surrogacy in an effort to prevent gridlock. In sum, Washington remains nearly the same on surrogacy as it was before: the state’s ban on compensated surrogacy still stands.

South Dakota

An attempt to ban surrogacy in the South Dakota failed to move beyond the state’s House Judiciary Committee in February of 2011. House Bill 1218 would have prohibited medical professionals from engaging in fertility procedures related to surrogacy, made surrogacy agreements unenforceable, established that surrogate mothers have the right to custody of the children they deliver, and made it a felony to offer or receive money in connection with a surrogacy arrangement. That version of the bill failed in 2011.

A massively stripped down surrogacy bill introduced in 2012 stated simply:  “A surrogacy agreement is void and unenforceable as against public policy.” The bill moved beyond the House Judiciary Committee this time, narrowly passed the House (36-34), before being tabled by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in February 2012. Therefore, there is still no ban on surrogacy or surrogacy agreements in South Dakota.

Maryland

Maryland lawmakers have begun making moves to address surrogacy in the state’s legislature. But the efforts have been unsuccessful so far—an effort to create a “Commission on Surrogate Parenting,” to study issues related to surrogate parenting and make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly, failed to pass.

A Final Note

Voters are heading to the polls today in four states to answer questions about marriage equality. Maryland’s Question 6 and Washington’s Referendum 74 would ratify laws passed by state legislatures and enact marriage equality. Maine’s Question 1 would enact marriage equality as well. While Minnesota’s Amendment 1 would amend the state’s constitution to define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. 

Passing marriage equality is fundamental step for LGBT families. It allows gay and lesbian couples to enjoy the same rights as straight couples in the eyes of the law. But just as importantly, it’s a step towards broader societal equality and acceptance of LGBT families. It’s our hope that voters in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesota will come down on the right side of history today and recognize the equality of all couples, gay or straight, and affirm that families come in all types.

Surrogacy Law: State to State Distinctions

By Bruce Hale

In the United States, the law that applies to surrogacy arrangements is controlled by the individual states.  Some states regulate surrogacy, some states forbid surrogacy entirely, and some states have little to no body of surrogacy law

In surrogacy arrangements, the most important law comes from the state where the surrogate lives and delivers the child.  For example, New Jersey’s recent state Supreme Court decision on surrogacy requires a second-parent adoption process to secure parental rights if a surrogate carries your child there. Other states allow a much simpler process for securing parental rights.

International surrogacy arrangements add another piece to the puzzle: the surrogate must live in a state with law that is compatible with the parentage and citizenship laws of the intended parents’ home country.  We have helped parents from over 50 countries have a child in the US and return home with documentation that allows the child to obtain citizenship and be recognized as their own.

In this video from a Circle Surrogacy group meeting in London, Circle Surrogacy President and Founder John Weltman discusses the implications of state law on surrogacy arrangements.