Making the decision to become a surrogate is exciting and momentous. Becoming a surrogate is an incredibly generous act and will change someone’s life in a beautiful way. Whether you are in California, NYC, or a town in between, we encourage you to do your research and find the agency that best fits you and what you hope to get out of your journey. You have options, and you’re not limited to a surrogacy agency that’s physically in your state.
For women interested in learning more about surrogacy and becoming a surrogate, we’ve compiled 10 steps of the surrogacy process.
1. Learn more about Surrogacy Requirements
We receive several questions and comments on Facebook regarding the surrogate process. Most often people ask: What is the surrogate process? Many women want to know where to start and what to read before formulating specific questions about the surrogate process.
At Circle, a successful surrogate:
- Has delivered a child of her own, and is currently parenting at least one child.
- Has had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as documented by medical records.
- Is between 21-41 years of age.
- Typically has a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 32. Calculate My BMI.
- Is a citizen, legal resident or legal immigrant of the United States. If a surrogate is a legal resident or legal immigrant of the United States, the surrogate must be able to provide documentation that is valid for at least 2 years.
2. Know the Difference Between Gestational Surrogacy and Traditional Surrogacy
For the surrogate process, it’s important to know some basic terminology when you apply.
Gestational surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman carries a child to term for intended parents who cannot have children on their own. This woman is referred to as a gestational surrogate or gestational carrier. Intended parents create fertilized embryos through in vitro fertilization, sometimes with the assistance of an egg donor or sperm donor. These embryos are cultivated in a laboratory and transferred into the surrogate’s uterus. Women who are gestational surrogates have no genetic relationship to the child(ren) they carry.
In Traditional Surrogacy, the surrogate has a biological relationship to the child(ren) she carries.
Circle Surrogacy ONLY works with Gestational Surrogacy.
3. Fill out our Application and Connect with the Circle Team!
Fill out our application. It takes only a few minutes, and you can do it right from your phone!
We’ll ask questions about your health and birth history, your living situation and support network, and learn more about why you’ll be an awesome surrogate!
After you’ve filled out the application, you’ll connect with a Surrogate Advisor to begin the pre-screening process. We want to answer any questions you may have, and discuss your expectations for your surrogacy journey. Many of our Surrogate Advisors are previous surrogates themselves, so they can answer any questions or share their story with you.
At this point, we’ll initiate your Medical Records Review. We review medical histories on a case-by-case basis, everyone is unique! At the same time, we’ll also carry out psychological evaluation and background checks. This is to ensure safety for both you and the baby you’ll carry.
4. Match with Intended Parents
At Circle, surrogates have the chance to express preferences about the intended parents with whom they are matched. You can share with us the type of Intended Parents you’re looking for, level of contact and sharing, and overall expectations of what you hope to get out of the journey. There are three main requirements that we use to connect a surrogate and intended parent(s): legal fit, personality fit, and views on selective reduction.
5. Legal Agreements and Contracts
As a surrogate, you will be provided with your own legal representation throughout the process, independent of the attorney working with your Intended Parents. You’ll work closely with your attorney to finalize the contract until both parties – you and your intended parents – are in agreement.
It’s important to be in full agreement on all aspects of the contract at this stage, to ensure a smooth and successful journey.
Once negotiations are complete, you’ll sign and return your Agreement(s) within five days of receiving the final draft.
6. Medical Screenings
Medical Screenings happen after matching and during contract negotiations. This is the first of two times you’ll travel as a surrogate. You’ll travel to the IPs’ IVF clinic for your screening. Each clinic is different, so exactly what is done during your screening varies. Typically, you’ll fly in one day, have your appointment the following morning, and then fly home that night. Don’t worry, travel costs are all covered!
This is also the time when insurance coverage is determined. Surrogate maternity-related coverage comes from either your current health insurance plan or a plan purchased for you by your intended parents that is specific to surrogacy. Circle will coordinate all insurance coverage on your behalf.
7. Local Monitoring & Embryo Transfer
These appointments are necessary to see how you’re progressing on your medications and monitor you during the time leading up to your embryo transfer. These appointments are done at a clinic near your home, called a monitoring clinic. Your chosen clinic will monitor you and share your results with the RE’s office (who will share results with Circle). Because these appointments are close to your home, it limits the need for travel – making life a little easier for you!
Once you’ve been medically screened and the contract is signed by both you and your IP’s, you’ll receive an IVF treatment schedule to help prepare your body for embryo transfer. The timeline includes the start date of your medications to the actual retrieval and transfer date.
When the joy of pregnancy is achieved, you will have continued support during your pregnancy from your Journey Coordination team and Circle Social Worker. They ensure that you and your IP’s are prepared for birth. During the pregnancy, most IPs and surrogates check in weekly using Skype or through texting. However you are comfortable keeping up your relationship!
You’ve given birth before, so you know how this goes. Your IPs will come to the hospital to be there as soon as possible. It’s a really exciting day for everyone! Prior to birth, you and your IPs will have worked with your Journey Coordination team and the hospital to put a birth plan in order. Because of this, the hospital is aware that your delivery is a surrogate birth, and that there will be intended parents in attendance. The primary job of the hospital staff is to make you comfortable, and ensure your delivery goes as smoothly as possible.
10. Happily Ever After
Many surrogates have told us that the most wonderful thing about delivering a baby for intended parents is that they can be discharged from the hospital and go home and REST…because they don’t have a newborn baby to care for! And that is exactly what you should do: rest and relax, let your body heal. Spend time with your children and family.
Depending on the depth of the relationship with your Intended Parents, you will determine the level of contact and communication you keep up. Some surrogates and intended parents share photos and updates. Others plan visits and trips together.
How your relationship continues is completely up to you. Just know that did an amazing, selfless thing that made the biggest difference possible in people’s lives.
If this process sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, we encourage you to learn more about being a surrogate at Circle Surrogacy! We have a whole section of our site dedicated to surrogate resources where you can read testimonials from previous surrogates, check the requirements, learn about surrogate pay, and apply when you’re ready!
We can’t wait to meet you!