Frequently Asked Questions for Parents Interested in Surrogacy
Intended parents come to Circle Surrogacy for our history of success, our unparalleled variety of program options, our expertise with diverse communities, and our focus on relationship-building and long-term support. Since 1995, we’ve helped parents from over 50 countries bring their children home safely with their parental rights secure. You can find out more about why Circle Surrogacy could be a good fit for you and learn some things to consider when choosing a surrogacy or egg donation agency.
There are two types of surrogacy—gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In a typical gestational surrogacy arrangement, intended parents create embryos through in vitro fertilization. One or more of these embryos is implanted in a surrogate (sometimes known as a gestational carrier), who carries the child or children to term, but has no genetic relationship to them. These makeup the vast majority of modern surrogacy arrangements. By contrast, traditional surrogates typically become pregnant through artificial insemination, and have a genetic connection to the child or children they carry for their intended parents.
How long does the whole surrogacy process take?
The length of the process depends on several factors. We typically tell intended parents that they should plan on a year and a half from the time they sign on with our agency until they have a child, although it can be quicker or longer depending on the legal requirements involved and the course of the IVF treatment.
Which IVF clinics do you work with?
We have built relationshipswith several IVF clinics across the country. These relationships allow you totake advantage of special pricing packages we have negotiated. However,the decision of which fertility clinic to use is entirely the decision of theintended parents. Circle Surrogacy will work with any fertility clinicthat the intended parents choose, as long asthey will be able to coordinate with our agency. We encourage intended parents to evaluate several fertility clinics and choosethe one that they feel is the best to meet their needs. When you are choosing a clinic, you should consider some of these things: yourpersonality fit with the doctor and other medical staff, your comfort withtheir process, and the clarity of their financial information.
Can I be a parent if I’m single?
Of course! We work with intended parents of all backgrounds—single individuals, same-sex couples, and heterosexual couples. We have helped manysingle intended parents build families through surrogacy.
Yes. We are members of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). We work closely with the LGBT Community Center in New York, Family Equality Council, Resolve New England, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), and Parent via Egg Donation (PVED). Our attorneys are active in the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Family Law’s Subcommittee on Assisted Reproduction Technology and are admitted to the Massachusetts, New York, and California State Bars.
Frozen embryos are stored at your IVF clinic.If your family is complete, you will be advised on your options for the future of your embryos. If you choose to move your embryos, your IVF center will assist you in that process. Of course, you may use the cryopreserved embryos in a future surrogacy if you choose.
Can I be a parent if I am or my partner is HIV+?
Yes. Thanks to a sperm washing technique and HIV testing, it is possible for HIV+ men to father safely. We have helped a number of HIV+ individuals become fathers through surrogacy. We offer the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) program in conjunction with the Bedford Research Foundation Lab. You can learn more about surrogacy for HIV+ intended parents in this video.
The questions below apply to international intended parents only.
You will be required to come to the United States 1-2 times (for the creation of the embryos at the IVF Clinic and the eventual delivery of the child), but it is more common for international intended parents to visit about 4 times during the process. The first preferred visit is to meet your surrogate once you are matched and complete the medical screening at the IVF clinic. The second is for the IVF procedure and embryo transfer.The third visit is for the 20-week ultrasound scan. And the final visit is for the birth of your child. Of course, if you and your surrogate choose, you can visit more frequently.
How long should I expect to be in the United States during and after the delivery?
This varies based the legal work required and the procedures in the state in which the child was delivered. As a general rule, we advise international intended parents to plan on returning home after 2-4 weeks, to allow ample time for any DNA testing,court proceedings, the issuance of any birth certificates and the application for any visas and/or passports. We will guide you through this process.
If I don’t live in the United States, how will my child get a passport?
Because of a legal principle known as jus soli, children who are born in the United States are automatically entitled to for U.S.citizenship and U.S. passports, regardless of the citizenship of their intended parents. As a result, most intended parents who pursue surrogacy in the United States are able to return home with their children without first obtaining a passport from their native country. Nevertheless, some international intended parents may choose to or be required to obtain either passports or temporary visas for their children at a local consulate in the United States in order to return home after the birth. Intended parents should consult with immigration attorneys in their native countries for information about the best procedures for returning home with their children. We partner with immigration attorneys in many countries, and can direct you to professional immigration assistance.
QUESTIONS REGARDING SURROGATES
Why do women choose to become surrogates (gestational carries)?
Some surrogates have had a personal experience with infertility and are eager to help a couple or individual to become parents. Others may feel that their family is complete but love being pregnant and feel that helping prospective parents is a greater calling. What unites all of them is the desire to help a family grow.
How are surrogate
A woman applies to become a surrogate with Circle Surrogacy by filling out a detailed questionnaire. We review her answers and if we think she would be a good fit for our program, a consulting IVF physician examines her medical records, including a history of recent pregnancies. Our legal team reviews any medical insurance plans. Next, she participates in a detailed assessment by phone with one of our licensed social workers. She is then required to take the Minnesota Multiphasic Psychological Inventory (MMPI-2) test to determine the presence of any psychopathologies. We evaluate the applicant’s support network and run a criminal background and bankruptcy/judgment history check her and her husbands/partners.
How does the matching process work?
Once we have accepted a surrogate applicant into our program, our matching and legal teams determine possible matching options based on a variety of factors, including: the state she lives in, whether she has insurance, and the matching preferences from both intended parents and surrogates.
We will send the redacted profile of the intended parents (with no identifying information) to the surrogate. If she expresses interest, we will send her profile to the intended parents, similarly leaving out all identifying information. Once the surrogate and the prospective parents express a mutual interest, we will put them in touch by telephone, Skype or email so they can begin to get to know each other.
After communicating with each other, the surrogate and the prospective parents meet in person at their mutual convenience: at the surrogate’s home, the intended parents’ home, or some place in between. If the surrogate has children and/or a partner or spouse, the intended parents meet them as well.
An IVF physician medically screens them after a match is made. If for any reason the surrogate doesn’t pass the medical screening (which is rare), Circle Surrogacy presents a new match free of charge.
What are the requirements to become a surrogate (gestational carrier)?
We’ve established strict requirements for our surrogate applicants to ensure the continued success of our program. Here are some of our requirements for surrogate applicants:
- 21-41 years of age,
- Birth to a healthy child within the past 7 years,
- Healthy births since any miscarriage,
- No participation in certain government aid programs,
- Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 33,
- Residence in a surrogacy-friendly state in the United States,
- Support of family and friends,
- No use of illegal drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol abuse,
- No currently use of anti-depressants,
- No form of contraceptive intra-uterine device (IUD), and
- No more than 3 previous births by caesarean section.
Will I have contact with my surrogate?
Openness, honesty, and communication are core values at Circle Surrogacy. We encourage building meaningful relationships that will continue to exist throughout the life of the child. Because of our relationship-focused approach, nearly every surrogate agrees to have a second journey with her intended parents when asked.
Can my surrogate be enrolled in government aid programs?
It depends, but for the most part we are unable to accept surrogate applicants who are receiving government assistance. Programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Section 8 housing generally have strict requirements on income. Unfortunately, reimbursements received for acting as a gestational surrogate could potentially impact eligibility for these benefits. However, we are often able to accept surrogate applicants who are enrolled in Medicaid programs.
Where will my surrogate deliver my child?
Most of our surrogates already have relationships with an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) and many will deliver at the same hospital where they gave birth to their children. All surrogates will deliver at a hospital near their home. The decision about where to deliver is typically made in conjunction with the OBGYN and the insurance company, which may have a network of approved providers and hospitals. Occasionally, our legal team will recommend that a delivery occur at a specific hospital.
Intended parents often wish to be a part of the labor and delivery process. Hospital policy and your surrogate’s comfort play a large role in determining who will be able to be present in the delivery room. Following the birth, the baby will either remain in the nursery or a room assigned to you. According to most hospital policies, the child cannot be released from the hospital until the surrogate has been released.
QUESTIONS REGARDING EGG DONORS
Why do women want to become egg donors?
Egg donors are typically young women in their twenties who are looking for a way to help others while also helping themselves financially. Many of these women know people who have struggled with infertility or know other people who have donated their eggs. Our egg donor team seeks strong egg donor applicants who want to help a family grow.
What are the requirements to become an egg donor?
There are many requirements, medical and psychological, for egg donor applicants. You can find out more about our egg donor requirements in the Donors section of this site. In general, egg donors need to be between 20-29 years old and in good physical and emotional health. They must have a family medical history free of significant genetic syndromes and abnormalities and mental health concerns.
How do I select an egg donor?
Choosing an egg donor is one of the most challenging choices intended parents will have to make in the egg donor surrogacy process. Often, they will have an idea about certain traits they are looking for (hair color or eye color, for instance). But intended parents more often base their decision an egg donor’s responses to our detailed questionnaire. You can request access to donor database to view these egg donor questionnaires. When you find a profile that you connect with, your journey coordinator can assist you in making a match with the egg donor.
Will I have contact with my egg donor?
Circle Surrogacy's egg donors are open to and expect to have a phone call or Skype call with their intended parents. Most of our egg donors are also willing to meet their intended parents in person. You will learn about an egg donor's willingness to meet you when you read her profile. These women are counseled on the importance of being open to talking with or meeting a child born from their donation in the future, should this be requested.
Are the egg donors anonymous or known?
Circle Surrogacy has always emphasized and encouraged known egg donation. In this arrangement, you and your egg donor will learn each other’s names and have the opportunity to get to know each other.
We believe knowing where he/she came from is important for a child’s sense of identity. In addition, known egg donation allows you and your children to remain updated about their genetic parent’s medical history as it changes over time.
However, we respect intended parents’ and egg donors’ right to choose to remain anonymous and we counsel on issues related to anonymity. Ultimately, we find that egg donors will often agree to be known or anonymous based on the preference of the intended parents, but the majority of donors who come to Circle Surrogacy are comfortable with a known egg donation.
What does the legal process involve before and after the birth?
Circle’s legal team coordinates with local attorneys to ensure that you are properly matched with a surrogate in a state where you can accomplish the necessary legal work to finalize your parental rights. You will need to have wills finalized prior to the embryo transfer that ensure that a guardian is in place to care for your children in the event of your death. (If you live in the United States, Circle’s legal team can draft these for you.) Once you are matched, we negotiate contracts on your behalf with independent attorneys who represent the egg donor and/or surrogate. Circle works with local attorneys in the states where the surrogates reside in order to accomplish the legal work necessary to secure your parental rights. Depending on a variety of factors, your surrogacy legal work may include a pre-birth order, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, a judgment of paternity, a custody orders, or an adoption.
Will I need an attorney?
Again, if you live outside the United States, you may find it advantageous to work with an immigration attorney from your home country. You may also need to consult with a family law attorney in your country for help finalizing your parental rights when you return. Finally, some intended parents hire an independent attorney to review our Agreement for Services before signing on with us. Most people do not feel it necessary to find counsel for this purpose, but they do review the Agreement carefully and occasionally request edits and make comments before signing. Once you have joined our program, however, Circle’s legal team will act as your counsel for all legal matters related to the surrogacy in the United States. We will represent you for the negotiation of any contracts with the surrogate and egg donor and will work with local attorneys across the United States to finalize your parental rights.
Will there be contracts with my surrogate or egg donor?
Yes. Once you are matched with a surrogate or egg donor, we will draft an agreement and negotiate it on your behalf with your carrier or egg donor’s independent attorney. These contracts cover everything from the medical procedure to your surrogate’s reimbursements to the relationship with the child.