If you’re considering growing your family through surrogacy, you may have started searching for a surrogacy agency, starting to compare agency costs, programs, locations, and offerings.
But even before you research surrogacy agencies, whether they’re in California, Boston, or beyond, you should first consider a more important question: “Is this a good time for me to do surrogacy?”
Motivations for surrogacy vary. Maybe you’re thinking about surrogacy to start a family, or you’re considering a sibling surrogacy journey (more on that below!). Whatever your personal motivation, there are a few questions to ask yourself that can influence if you are ready to become a parent through surrogacy:
“Am I emotionally ready to begin surrogacy?”
“Am I financially ready to begin surrogacy?”
“Is it a good time in the world to do surrogacy?”
How Do I Prepare for Surrogacy? Am I Ready to Start My First Journey?
Intended parents come to surrogacy from different backgrounds and experiences. Some reasons someone might choose surrogacy are:
- Heterosexual couples who have struggled with infertility
- Intended mothers who are unable to carry a child
- Intended parents who have a genetic defect or health condition they don’t want to pass onto the child
- Same-sex intended parents who want to have a genetic link to their baby
No matter what your reason for choosing surrogacy to have a baby, you likely have some of the same questions others do about what’s needed to be ready and get started.
Am I Emotionally Ready to Begin Surrogacy?
This is perhaps the hardest question to answer because there isn’t a tangible answer, and everyone’s emotional readiness is different. How do you know if you’re emotionally ready to embark on one of the biggest adventures of your life?
What is surrogacy? Gestational surrogacy is a method of third-party reproduction that helps those who are unable to have children become parents. It’s a process that requires medical and legal expertise, as well as a strong support process throughout the journey. Through IVF, embryos are created in a lab at a fertility clinic. Sometimes the intended parents use their own genetic material. Sometimes, an egg donor is required. At the fertility clinic, 1-2 embryos are implanted into a gestational carrier, who carries the baby(ies) to term. It’s important to note that gestational carriers have no genetic relationship to the children they deliver. Intended parents may ask themselves if surrogacy feels like the right fit for them to grow their family.
How does the surrogacy process work? The surrogacy process is a monumental journey made up of little milestones along the way. The process requires many different professionals, including doctors, lawyers, program coordinators, accountants and medical billing specialists. Many of those considering surrogacy choose to work with a surrogacy agency, who helps manage the journey. The level of management an agency provides depends on the type of agency it is: There are full-service surrogacy agencies who manage the entire process from start to finish (like Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation) and smaller agencies who manage only certain parts of the process. This article in The New York Times offers additional helpful information about the process.
The surrogacy process can take anywhere between 16 to 21 months in total, from the time you consult with an agency until you are holding your baby in your arms. Some agencies may share shorter journey times and others may share longer ones. It’s important to ask specific questions related to the process to get a full understanding of exactly how long the process will take for you and your specific situation. A good question to ask yourself is: Am I ready to start a journey that could take almost two years of emotional, time and financial investment.
What to expect from surrogacy? When you start a surrogacy journey, you can expect to sometimes feel a little overwhelmed (there are so many moving parts!), in need of explanations of specific pieces of the process (much of this will be new to you!), and excited or nervous or a combination of both! You should be prepared to be flexible, put your trust in your surrogacy agency (if you are using one) as well as your gestational carrier, and be willing to give up control and let the professionals (and your carrier!) do their jobs. But in the end, you can expect the greatest gift of all: your precious baby.
Am I Financially Ready to Begin a Surrogacy Journey?
The question about being able to afford surrogacy is an easier one for intended parents to answer, as having the finances in place to begin a journey is tangible.
Not only is a surrogacy journey an emotional commitment, but it’s also a financial one, as well. Surrogate costs, from California to Massachusetts, can range anywhere from $80,000-$160,000 (and sometimes more), depending on your specific situation. Intended parents go about affording surrogacy a few different ways: some borrow money from family and friends, some look into financing, and others take out loans.
Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, who just celebrated 25 years of making parenthood possible around the world, created two Fixed Cost programs that offer intended parents cost security and peace of mind. Their Journey Protection Guarantee Program offers a 100% refund of the agency fee if you do not become pregnant. With fixed costs and no surprise expenses along the way – no matter what happens in your journey – intended parents can plan for costs without having to find the money for unexpected issues that may arise.
Circle Surrogacy also offers an exclusive financing plan for intended parents living in eligible states in the United States. This financing plan allows intended parents to finance up to $65,000 of their journey costs.
It’s hard to put a price on starting your family, but speaking with an agency to gain a better understanding of what goes into the costs – agency fees, legal fees, surrogate compensation, etc. – will help put costs into perspective.
Is It a Good Time in the World To Do Surrogacy?
If you’re ready emotionally and financially to begin a surrogacy journey, you can also take into consideration any circumstances out of your control, such as the outside environment. No one could have predicted what 2020 looked like, but a worldwide pandemic absolutely affected the surrogacy world.
When Is a Good Time to Begin a Sibling Surrogacy Journey?
If you’ve completed a surrogacy journey and you’re thinking about a sibling journey – congratulations on this exciting news! When you begin a sibling journey is entirely up to you; some parents start their second (or third!) journey right after their baby is born, while others wait a few years.
There are a few things to consider before starting a sibling journey:
- Do you have the proper support and childcare in place?
- Are you financially ready for a sibling journey?
- Will you be matching with the gestational surrogate from your previous journey? If yes, is your surrogate willing and ready for a sibling journey?
Do You Have the Support You Need?
As you know from your first surrogacy journey, the process is a time commitment for both the surrogate and the intended parents. There are appointments and travel and preparations. A good first question to ask is: Do you have the right support in place for a sibling journey? Do you have someone to watch your child(ren) from your first journey when needed? Do you have the support of family and friends like you did for your first journey? If your partner will be staying home with your child(ren), is there someone else who can accompany you on appointments or travel if necessary?
Are You Financially Ready for a Sibling Journey?
You are already familiar with the costs of surrogacy from your first journey. Great news: If you plan on working with the same agency (and the same gestational carrier), there are surrogacy discounts available to you!
If you chose Circle Surrogacy for your first journey and would like to choose Circle again for a sibling journey with the same gestational carrier, here are the available discounts:
- 30% discount off of Circle’s agency fee
- 75% off legal, screening and support fees
- NOTE: If you work with your same surrogate, she will receive a higher base fee as an “experienced” carrier
If you choose to work with Circle Surrogacy again for your sibling journey, but need a new gestational carrier match, you will receive a $10,000 discount for working with us again.
Will You Be Matching with the Same Gestational Carrier?
Not only does matching with the same gestational carrier provide a financial benefit, but it also provides an emotional one as well: You have already developed trust and a strong bond and with your gestational surrogate.
You can either speak directly with your surrogate about a sibling journey or reach out to Circle Surrogacy to help facilitate that conversation.
Here are some considerations if you’re thinking about a sibling journey with your same surrogate:
- Your surrogate can reapply again as soon as she has delivered. Medically, Circle Surrogacy will require postpartum visit records from your surrogate’s 6-week checkup, and most clinics will require a hold for transfer. This hold time can vary from clinic to clinic and can be anywhere from 6 to 12 months for a vaginal delivery and a minimum of 12 months for a C-section until embryo transfer.
- If your surrogate is breastfeeding for you (or pumping and donating her breastmilk to a milk bank), there will also be a bit of a wait time. She can reapply with Circle at any time; however, she will be unable to travel to her medical screening until she has fully weaned. We encourage you to speak with your clinic about a timeline with your surrogate, as clinic guidelines may differ (some may require her to have a few cycles after she stops pumping before her medical screening).
Whether you’re considering surrogacy for the first time, or for a sibling journey, there is much to consider. Circle Surrogacy’s Parent Intake team is always available to answer any questions you might have; you can reach them via email. Plus, Circle has a tremendous amount of information on their agency website about surrogacy costs, financing for surrogacy, the surrogacy process and timeline, as well as how to find a surrogate mother.