VIDEO: Kids Born Through Surrogacy Discuss Prejudice

This video features three young adults, born with Circle Surrogacy, discussing their personal experiences dealing with prejudice. (The Teen Panel from the left, Elinor, Liv, and Zachary.)

Elinor started the discussion by sharing her experience being raised Jewish. She explains that there are passages in the Torah forbidding same-sex relationships. However, she does find comfort in the fact that her friends don’t interpret the Torah literally–and don’t believe there is anything wrong with same-sex relationships.

Liv and Zachary stated they hadn’t experienced much prejudice.

They had great advice to give children and young adults experiencing prejudice. They said not to listen to negative people, not to be ashamed of your family, and to surround yourself with the good people.

The young adults on the panel also discussed the benefits of having two dads when it came to sexual orientation and accepting others. Elinor, Liv, and Zachary express that they knew growing up if they would also be accepted, no matter their sexual orientation. Elinor and Liv identify as straight. Zachary discussed coming out to his parents. He said having two dads “made it easier for me to accept it myself and feel comfortable in my own skin.”

The panel above is from the Men Having Babies Conference in May of 2016.

New eBook: We’re Together At Last

ebook surrogacy

Our New eBook written by a former surrogate and parent through surrogacy.

Download here: We’re Together At Last (ebook)

Every surrogate and intended parent or parents have their own unique journey. Hearing other people’s stories helps us to understand each other—to celebrate our similarities and to learn from our differences.

In this book, one very generous intended parent, Lauren, along with the surrogate she worked with, Sarah, share the birth story of baby Charlie.

We are grateful they shared their story enthusiastically. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed doing our part to unite these individuals to make this miracle possible.

– Circle Surrogacy

Happy Father’s Day to our Proud Dads

Happy Fathers Day

Father’s Day means something different to each of us, whether it’s a day to do something special for your old man, to give both your dads a big hug, or the day that commemorates the moment you found out you were going to be a father! Dove’s newest commercial for their #RealStrength campaign shows some real reactions with footage of men finding out that they’re going to be a dad. The message behind their campaign is that showing care takes real strength. Dads can sometimes be the tough guy for their kids, but this commercial shows the genuine expressiveness and joy that revolves around being a father and building a family.

Fathers probably have the moment they realized they were going to be a dad cemented into their memories. Maybe they were expecting it or maybe they were caught completely off guard, full of surprise, overwhelmed by happiness, and a just a little bit nervous about this next step in their life. You can see the dads in the commercial with their mouths open in disbelief, picking up their partner overjoyed, and some getting a little teary eyed.

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Helpful Tips from One Parent to Another: Buying for baby

newborn-baby-must-haves Your little one is soon to arrive. You are SO excited because it seems like the waiting has been so long. However, reality is now setting in…“Do I have what I need for a newborn!?” As a mother of two (a 6-year-old boy and an 11-month-old girl), I know too well that feeling of wondering if I have everything I need to raise my babies, especially being a new parent. There are so many things on the market these days, which can be very overwhelming to someone just starting out in the world of parenthood.

I remember when my son was born and that feeling of “do I have the best and safest things on the market for my baby?”  We, after all, don’t settle for anything but the best for our child(ren), right? In this parent-to-parent section, I will discuss some of my favorite items available for babies that I used for my children. I have found, for myself anyway, that the best advice comes from other parents. Again, this is based on what worked for my children…every baby is different.

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Surrogate Pregnancy: How to balance pregnancy and family

surrogate pregnancy with children Pregnancy. You’re no stranger to the growing bump, the late-night kicking sessions, or the bizarre food cravings. Yet many women who become surrogates do so because they love all aspects of being pregnant. And becoming pregnant to help another family grow? There’s just nothing like it.

It goes without saying that becoming pregnant while still raising young children is not an easy feat. You may find yourself looking for ways to balance your time and attention between your surrogate pregnancy and your family.

A pregnancy is a pregnancy. While many of the terms of your pregnancy are different as a surrogate, your physical pregnancy experience is not. This means you should take it slow as you did with your previous pregnancies. Just because you are not the biological mother of the child you are bringing to life, it does not mean you should expect the pregnancy to feel dramatically different in terms of physical symptoms. Granted, many parts of your surrogacy pregnancy will be different from your previous ones. Previous surrogate and current Circle employee, Jeni Denhoff, writes about what she found different between pregnancies. Take care of yourself, know when you’ve reached your limit, and take a step back, asking for help when you need it.

Talk to your children about your pregnancy. Explain that just because they won’t be getting a new sister or brother, it doesn’t mean that there’s something special going on in mommy’s tummy. This can be a sensitive subject for many women. We encourage you to explore your resources and come up with a plan to share your adventure with your children in a way that makes sense to them. Need some tips? Here’s a previous blog post we wrote about how to talk to your children about your surrogacy.

Support systems. Whether you need an hour to yourself, or you need someone to watch your little ones while you go to a doctor’s appointment, establishing a support system is essential. As a surrogate, you have the added support team in your intended parents (IPs). Depending on the nature of your relationship, the level and type of support can vary. But one thing is true across all surrogacy arrangements: your IPs are rooting for you. Another benefit of becoming a surrogate with a surrogacy agency is the support you receive. From your assigned program coordination team to the social worker managing your case, you are in good hands at Circle. Use your resources and reach out when you have questions or are looking for guidance.

Time with your kiddos. Children can get jealous and vie for mom’s attention when there’s a new baby in the room (or in this case, womb). Be sure to set aside time to spend with each of your children to reinforce just how important they are to you. Dedicate a night to each of your children. Plan activities he or she loves, and spend some quality time reminding your own children that they are your world.

You are the definition of a champion. You are providing a family with a child they might not otherwise have. Nine months of dedication means you deserve to be pampered! Don’t feel guilty asking for some time to yourself while you are pregnant. Relish in your surrogacy experience, but know that your children will be there throughout it all, holding your hand along the way and later beaming with pride knowing what you did for another family.

Interested in becoming a surrogate and helping a family grow? Learn more and begin your application today.


 

photo credit: Chynne Sue Photography via photopin cc

7 Useful Ways to Manage the Back-to-School Season

back to school Has the back-to-school season led to some mommy angst? Not to worry, you’re not alone. However, fewer people are probable navigating the hectic season while also pursuing a surrogacy. You go girl! To offer some guidance, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can help minimize the BTS chaos.

1. Accept that it’s going to be a hectic time of year. Unfortunately, you can’t fight it. The lazy, hazy days of summer are long gone, replaced by new binders, sharpened pencils, and backpacks packed to the brim. Once you’ve accepted the hustle and bustle, you’ll be ready to start managing your time more effectively.

2. Exercise. (If you’re pregnant, keep this limited to what your OB allows.) Going for daily walks, practicing yoga, and bike riding are all great ways to get the heart pumping while not overdoing it. In addition to keeping your body healthy, exercise encourages mental clarity and a more peaceful state of mind. Something you won’t take for granted during the next few months!

3. Have your post-school schedule figured out. The kids are at school for most of the day, giving you more time to manage the household and take care of things on your never-ending to-do list. Great! But what happens when you reach 2pm dismissal? Arranging your afterschool care gives everyone in your family a sense of security and routine, which is helpful during any transitional period. If you plan on having the kids come home after classes end, look for some ways to keep them engaged (after they’ve finished homework assignments, of course). Check out these 101 after-school activities for kids.

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Accepting Our Children’s Differences: A sit-down with author Craig Pomranz

Made By Raffi

Childhood is a time fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. Growing up, almost everyone, at some point, has felt like the odd man out — or felt just plain different. While some children are fortunate enough to have adults in their life who celebrate their “differences” and encourage them to let their true colors shine, others aren’t so lucky. Made By Raffi (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), a unique new children’s book about one brave little boy who forges his own path despite peer pressure, is a must-read for all children.

While being perceived as different can be difficult for kids who just want to fit in, seeing other kids being brave, and celebrating themselves for who they are, can be a powerful tool. Craig Pomranz’s heartwarming book is one such tool for both children and their parents.

We caught up with Pomranz to ask him some questions about his newly released book, advice for parents and kids who might be struggling with feeling different, and about his own childhood experiences.

Q: What or who was your inspiration for penning Made By Raffi?
A: The book was inspired by my godson. As a little boy, he wasn’t so interested in sports or rough and tumble play. When he was about 9, he asked for knitting needles for his birthday, and I was delighted to supply. He really took to it and found it very peaceful and comforting.  At some point, I guess he was teased. He then began to ask questions about why he was different.

I was fascinated when he came up with the term “tomgirl,” because it brought into focus the huge difference between a little girl who likes traditional boys’ activities – a tomboy – and a little boy who likes traditional girls’ activities. A tomboy is admired for her toughness and independence. But “tomgirl” connotes a negative idea: a little boy who is effeminate or weak.  I thought to myself, this is huge. I can really help kids and parents by telling this story.

Raffi Books Languages (2) Q: What message do you hope to send readers?
A: I hope the book supports young boys and girls who are perceived as “different” because of their appearances or hobbies and at the same time encourages all kids to try many different kinds of activities. I also hope it provides comfort for worried parents. It is healthy for children to experiment, try on different identities, and discover themselves. They should do so openly and without fear. It is a funny, colorful book, because kids should also be able to laugh without malice—differences are fun!

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Surrogate Screening Process: How is a surrogate approved?

surrogate screening process

While surrogates come from a wide range of backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: These women want to help a deserving family grow. To ensure that every surrogate we accept is physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to begin her surrogacy journey, Circle implements a very thorough application and screening process.

There are many steps that a surrogate goes through before she is accepted into our program. The guidelines we follow are in place for the benefit of the surrogate and the intended parents.

Here we take a look at what the screening process looks like.

  1. Prospective surrogates complete an online application, which consists of roughly 100 questions to gauge whether or not an applicant is a fit for Circle. The application reflects our strict requirements for initial approval, which include proof of (a) previous healthy birth(s), residence in a surrogacy-friendly state, no history of illegal drug use, and no history of alcohol abuse. Often, intended parents will have chosen a reproductive endocrinologist before a match is even made. This doctor will review a potential surrogate’s medical records to see if she is an acceptable medical candidate.
  2. If an applicant meets the necessary criteria in her initial online application and is medically cleared, she will next complete a thorough panel of assessments with a licensed social worker. Both she and the person she identifies as her primary support person (most often her partner) undergo criminal background checks, bankruptcy/judgment history checks, and psychosocial screenings.
  3. The final piece of the approval process is the in-person medical screening, which follows the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and takes place at the IVF clinic. Depending on the clinic, some doctors will choose to also evaluate the potential surrogate’s partner for medical clearance.

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Family Building: A Modern Day Mother’s Day

surrogate mothers dayGone are the days of TV Dinners, transistor radios, poodle skirts, drive-in movie theater dates, and soda fountains. Gone are the days of the “typical American family.” We live in a world in which normalcy is rapidly dissolving. The lines of tradition have been blurred by society’s social transformations, and we can now say, with pride, that families do not come pre-conditioned.

Mother’s Day is a holiday that has not quite caught up with the times, as many children are raised without a mother. And while the phrase “without a mother” denotes an absence, let us remind children born through surrogacy that they were brought into this world through an act of unconditional love.

They may grow up with two daddies; they may grow up with one. While they may not have a biological mother or they may have a mother who needed the help of a surrogate to have her own child, they have the everlasting gift of love and life from their journey entering the world given to them by a surrogate.

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Family Development Research: The effects of assisted reproduction

Gay Parenting Family structure has changed markedly in the past few decades. Starting a family is now possible for a greater variety of intended parents due to the advances in assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs), allowing lesbian and gay parents to start families for example.

Despite the increasing numbers of couples and individuals helped by ARTs, these families have not been sufficiently represented in studies looking into how families develop. In order for policy and support to reflect the reality of life for these families, research needs to include all family forms. The science behind ARTs is developing rapidly and as such the science focusing on the psychological, social, and emotional well-being of these families needs to keep up.

Of the extensive literature on family development conducted over the last century, comparatively little focus has documented the well-being of same-sex parents and their children, particularly families headed by gay dads. Studies including families with lesbian mothers have found children do not show signs of psychological maladjustment, do not have poorer peer relationships, and do not show differences in gender identity. Indeed, children of lesbian mothers appear to be functioning well into adult life.

Even fewer studies have focused on gay fathers and their children. The few studies that have followed children of gay fathers have found these children did not show adverse effects and were well adjusted.

Understanding the development and experiences of these families is important, as increasing numbers of gay men are becoming fathers. Not enough is known about the well-being of these fathers, and the development of their children. Therefore, more facts and less assumption are needed to understand the effects of gay parenting to ensure that the correct support is in place, if needed.

This need for information is what drives the New Parents Study, an ambitious study that follows families with babies 4 months old are visited at their homes, with a follow-up invitation to Cambridge University when the babies are 12 months old. Families included are those who have gay parents, where the child was born through surrogacy; families with lesbian mothers, where the child was born through donor Insemination; and heterosexual couples where the child was born through IVF.

The New Parents Study is an exciting project to work on as we are following couples who are first-time parents. The study brings two groups based in Cambridge—  the Applied Developmental Psychology Research Group and the Centre for Family Research— together with groups based at the University of Paris in France and the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. All of the groups involved in the New Parents Study have yielded findings over the years that demonstrate that the dynamics of a family are far more important than the family structure in determining the  child well-being.

Another reason being involved with the New Parents Study is so exciting is that we can learn more about fathers who are primary caregivers. In addition, we have the honor of seeing these families grow and develop while hearing about their family stories.

With such an ambitious project, we are indebted to the on-going support and assistance we receive in reaching potential participating families (charities, clinics, agencies and support groups). Circle Surrogacy is a great example of partners of the New Parents Study.

On March  20,  National Science and Engineering Week presents “What Makes A Family.” This gives researchers, clinicians, charities, parent groups, and the general public the chance to engage in discussions on recent research on family development and how researchers can take account of the public’s interests in family development.

For further information on the New Parents Study you can email infancy@hermes.cam.ac.uk , ring +44(0)1223 767 807 or click here.