International Surrogacy in the U.S.

Two hands point to different places on a world map.

Surrogacy is a meaningful way to have the family you’ve always dreamed of. For intended parents who live abroad, surrogacy may not seem like a possibility in your home country. Building your family through international surrogacy is possible when you work with an experienced and reputable surrogacy agency in the United States, such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation. 

Surrogacy in the U.S. is the safest international surrogacy option for intended parents who live outside of the U.S. Circle Surrogacy has been helping international intended parents grow their families for 25 years. We are experienced in helping intended parents from Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and many more countries have babies and safely return home.

For an intended parent who lives outside of the U.S., working with a surrogacy agency and gestational surrogate mother so far away may feel a little uncertain. That’s where Circle Surrogacy comes in.

Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation is a full-service agency that believes everyone should have the opportunity to have a family. Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay man and dad through surrogacy, who was also a lawyer. To this day, Circle employs a full legal team that is experienced in third-party reproduction laws.

When an intended parent who lives outside of the U.S. wants to find a surrogate mother and have a baby through surrogacy, Circle Surrogacy can help! Our surrogacy agency has offices in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, New York City, and Boston, Massachusetts. 

We’ve outlined some commonly asked questions from intended parents from outside of the U.S. to help them understand the surrogacy process in the United States, legal needs, how to find a surrogate mother, and what to expect from a surrogacy journey.

How do international intended parents find a surrogacy agency in the United States?

Distance is never a barrier when it comes to growing your family through surrogacy! Circle works with many international intended parents and they can have a smooth and successful journey without ever meeting members of the agency staff in person.

The first step in finding a U.S. surrogacy agency is to have a surrogacy consultation with your preferred agencies. The consultation is a detailed meeting with a surrogacy lawyer and a parent intake associate who will listen to your story and what brought you to surrogacy, and who will talk to you about the surrogacy process in the U.S.and answer all of your questions. 

traveling for international surrogacy

How many times do I need to travel to the U.S. if I sign with a U.S. surrogacy agency?

Typically, your IVF clinic will dictate how many times you will need to travel to the U.S. for embryo creation purposes. Once you are matched with a surrogate, you will need to be present in the U.S. for the birth of your child. We recommend that you plan to arrive at least 2 weeks ahead of the expected due date. If that’s not possible, you should plan to arrive one (1) week prior to the expected due date at a minimum. Circle also recommends traveling to the U.S. for any “big” medical appointments, such as your surrogate’s transfer appointment, confirmation of pregnancy, and anatomy scan, if possible.

COVID has limited international travel for everyone, including intended parents attempting to travel to the U.S. If you are prevented from traveling freely to the U.S. as a result of a travel ban on your home country, you will need to work with your physician at the IVF clinic for travel for medical purposes. If travel bans remain in effect for the duration of your journey, it’s likely you will only be able to travel to the U.S. for the birth. When scheduling travel, it’s important to consider possible quarantine periods required by the U.S. or the delivery hospital so you arrive in time to complete the quarantines before the expected due date. 

Can International IPs create embryos in their home countries and have them shipped to the U.S.?

You would have to confirm details with your U.S. and international IVF clinics regarding creating embryos outside the United States. There are specific medical requirements with regard to creating embryos outside the United States that will be used for a transfer with your surrogate within the U.S.

Can International IPs ship sperm to be used with an egg donor in the U.S. to create embryos?

International intended parents wishing to ship sperm to the U.S. must confirm with their U.S. and international IVF if they can donate sperm in their home country and have it shipped to the United States to create embryos. There are specific medical requirements regarding donating sperm outside the United States that will be used to create embryos in the U.S.

What type of documentation does an IP need to come to the U.S. to create embryos?

If you are in a country affected by a U.S. travel ban, you will need medical documentation from your IVF physician(s) to show the U.S. Embassy that there is a medical requirement that is sufficient for a National Interest Exemption. We recommend letters from your home country IVF clinic and your U.S. IVF clinic that explain (1) the necessary medical care you will receive in the U.S., and (2) why you cannot create embryos in your home country. You may also be asked to explain why it is in the United States’ interests to have you travel here, and you can consult with your team at Circle for guidance based on the experiences of other intended parents.

How do international IPs find a surrogate mother in the U.S.?

Intended parents working with a surrogacy agency such as Circle Surrogacy do not have to worry about finding a surrogate mother on their own. Working with a surrogacy agency means that the agency team will assist in finding a surrogate mom for you. Circle Surrogacy has a strict 3-step screening process for gestational surrogates, to ensure our surrogates are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for a surrogacy journey.

Circle Surrogacy matches international intended parents and surrogates based on certain criteria. Intended parents will never knowingly be presented with a surrogate match with who they can not legally match with according to surrogacy laws.

international surrogacy in the US

What is the status of traveling to the U.S. for a birth?

If you live in a country affected by a U.S. travel ban and do not already have a child who’s a U.S. citizen under the age of 18 (or you and/or your spouse do not hold any type of U.S. residency or citizenship), you will be required to work with the U.S. Embassy in your home country to obtain a National Interest Exemption, based on being a parent of a U.S. Citizen Minor Child. Your Circle attorney will be able to help guide and support you through this process, including, but not limited to, providing you the contact for the National Interest Exemption and the necessary documentation.

If your travel is not restricted, you can travel freely as you normally would. It is important, though, to check on any COVID testing requirements before traveling. As of spring 2021, the U.S. requires all travelers to have proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of their departing flight. As always, with guidelines continuously being updated, we recommend intended parents confirm with their airlines and any requirements specific to their country.

What documentation do international intended parents need to travel to the U. S. for the baby’s birth?

Intended parents need to bring their passports and relevant visas, whether an ESTA visa, tourist visa, etc… Parents who are planning to have baby return home after the birth should work with their home country consulate and home country attorney to obtain the necessary travel documents and any other required paperwork before traveling to the U.S. Intended parents should also confirm if they should bring any additional original documentation with them for use in the U.S. (such as marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.)

How long do international intended parents need to stay in the U.S. after their baby is born?

International intended parents should be prepared to stay a minimum of four (4) weeks after the baby’s birth. COVID, however, has extended this timeframe because of delays in obtaining documentation and passports. Establishing parentage must be completed to obtain a birth certificate. The birth certificate is normally not available for at least five (5) to ten (10) business days post-delivery with a pre-birth order, or post-delivery with parentage establishment in post-birth order states. In some states, the time to receive a birth certificate can be four (4) weeks, regardless of the parentage process, and each state has its own requirements. That’s why it’s important to consult with your Circle attorney and your local attorney prior to making any travel arrangements. Please ask your Circle attorney any specific questions you have and/or have a conversation with your Circle Team to determine state-specific requirements.

How do international IPs travel home with their baby from the U.S.?

Traveling home with a newborn can feel a bit overwhelming! Intended parents arrive in the United States at least 1 week prior to the delivery of their child to ensure that they are present for the birth. The Circle Attorney discusses with IPs the details regarding any requirements specific to the state where the birth occurs, as well as general documentation necessary to travel home post-delivery. This includes obtaining birth certificates, apostilles, and the child’s passport and/or their home country travel documentation. Intended parents’ Circle Attorney can provide the necessary guidance and support during this process, but parents should also consult with an attorney in their home country in case there are any additional documents and/or steps required in their home country to bring their baby home.

international surrogacy in the US

How are parental rights established? Must they be completed in the U.S. as well as in the IPs’ home country?

Each state has a specific way of establishing parentage. IPs can establish parentage in a variety of ways: pre-birth order, post-birth order, pre-birth and post-birth order, 2nd parent adoption, or a combination of those. The intended parents’ Circle attorney will be able to discuss the process they’ll follow in the U.S., based on the state where their surrogate lives. However, IPs should also discuss with their home country attorney to see if parentage must be established in a specific way, if specific language has to go into any U.S. Parentage Order, and/or whether they will need to establish parentage in their home country. Some countries do require parents to formally establish their parentage, and some will honor the parentage established in the United States.  

The Circle Surrogacy team fully supports intended parents living outside of the U.S. who want to grow their families through surrogacy. Circle has decades of experience in working with international surrogacy and help intended parents and their babies return home safely.

If you are interested in learning more about international surrogacy with Circle, you can fill out our parent form and a Parent Intake Associate will reach out to you!