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LGBTQ+ Surrogate Parenting

Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay man who aspired to have his own family, and the strategic programs and partnerships we have in place are designed to make gay surrogacy possible. We've helped gay individuals and couples from Australia become parents for 27 years, and about half of the parents through our program are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 Surrogate for Gay Parents

A Guide to LGBTQ+ Parenting

 Intended parents holding their new baby boy via Surrogacy, Silas

Overview of Gay Surrogacy

There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy (which is not usually practiced with surrogacy agencies) is when a woman is artificially inseminated to become pregnant. The woman shares biology with the baby.

The more common type of surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. Gestational surrogacy is the only family growing option for LGBTQIA+ individuals and couples to have biological children. It’s a process that requires medical and legal expertise, as well as a strong emotional support throughout the journey. Through IVF, embryos are created in a lab at a fertility clinic, using the intended parents' biology (one or both) as well as an egg donor. At the fertility clinic, 1-2 embryos are implanted into a gestational carrier, who carries the baby(ies) to term.

In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate does not use her eggs and has no genetic relationship to the child or children they deliver.

Surrogacy is an emotional and financial process to building the family of your dreams.

 What to look for in a surrogacy agency

What to look for in a surrogacy agency

Circle Surrogacy has been helping the LGBTQIA+ community become parents for 27 years. We bring an immense amount of experience to surrogacy, which by nature is a very complicated process.

A tremendous amount of coordination and planning goes into a surrogacy journey, as well as legal contracts. A surrogacy agency works with intended parents each and every day. Your agency is the surrogacy expert so you don't have to be.

Here are 3 things you should look for in an agency as a gay parent-to-be:

1. Ability to protect your rights. Circle Surrogacy's accomplished legal team helps confirm that your parental rights are affirmed and safeguarded. Whether you obtain a second-parent adoption, judgment of paternity/maternity or custody orders, we're here to help you become a parent and find solutions that protect your family.

2. Experience working with LGBTQ+ individuals. Circle was founded by a lawyer and gay dad through surrogacy. Our legal staff is experienced in the legal rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and stay educated as the laws change. Each state and country has specific laws and regulations for same sex IPs. Working with an agency that has this level of expertise in both social work and law helps to ensure a positive and successful journey for IPs.

3. Partnership and support throughout the entirety of your journey. Larger surrogacy agencies such as Circle, are able to provide intended parents full-service support throughout their journey. Circle employs accountants, program managers, lawyers and social workers all under one roof, which allows intended parents to have their journeys managed by one team at one agency, eliminating the need for third parties.
 Becoming a Gay Parent

Becoming a Gay Parent

Bringing a baby into your family through surrogacy is one of the greatest joys you can experience. Not only will you be having the baby you've dreamed of, but you'll also form a bond with your gestational surrogate – and her family– that is like no other. Surrogacy is a safe way to have the family you desire.

Circle Surrogacy was founded by a lawyer and gay dad through surrogacy, John Weltman. John and his husband had two sons through surrogacy, and started the agency on the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to become a parent.

Over the last 27 years, Circle has worked hard to develop a process that practically guarantees a baby for those who desire a family. In fact, Circle Surrogacy has a success rate of 99.3% for bringing home a baby. This rate is based on intended parents who completed one or two transfers, or had at least 3 transfers. It’s the highest success rate in the industry, and has been audited by an outside agency.
 Open laptop, open journal, and glasses

LGBTQ surrogacy laws

Surrogacy law is complex. But don’t let that get in your way of becoming a parent. It’s vital that you consult with a lawyer who specializes in surrogacy for gay couples or gay parenting issues.

How is surrogacy different for same sex intended parents?

Although surrogacy for heterosexual intended parents and same-sex intended parents is largely similar, there are a few factors that separate gay surrogacy from surrogacy for straight singles and couples.

It's important to understand your rights as parents, and what the surrogacy laws are in your state or country, and in the state in which your surrogate mother resides.

Common legal procedures for gay parenting

Pre-Birth Order (PBO): A court proceeding that establishes parental rights prior to the birth of the child. PBOs are only available in certain states. In other states, it may be possible to obtain a post-birth order.

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity: Allows a birth mother to designate a father, sometimes without the need for a court proceeding.

Custody Order: Grants custody of a child to the intended parent(s).

Second-Parent Adoption: Permanently establishes the non-biological parent’s rights to the child. It’s advisable to obtain a second-parent adoption. Even when it is possible to obtain a pre-birth order or a post-birth order, parents should know that not all states recognize parentage conferred in this way. By contrast, adoptions are recognized nationwide.

Wills and Estate Planning: Ensures that guardianship of the child is provided for in the event of the death of one or both parents. When a gay couple lives in a state or country where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, it becomes even more important to establish these documents.

Legally match with a surrogate who's right for you.

Our Matching Team works diligently to match intended parents and surrogates based on 3 criteria, the first of which is legal fit.

Ensuring that your surrogate lives in a state in which you'll be able to safely and securely establish your parental rights is crucial for a successful journey.

Circle Surrogacy has over 27 years of matching LGBTQIA+ intended parents and surrogate mothers successfully!

SPAR Program and HIV parents

The Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) has allowed hundreds of HIV+ men to build their families through surrogacy. Circle Surrogacy is proud to have assisted many couples and individuals through this program since 2009.

SPAR is offered in conjunction with the Bedford Research Foundation Clinical Laboratory, which has helped bring over 300 babies into the world safely through the program with no transmission of the virus. Dr. Ann Kiessling's innovating program combines semen testing and sperm washing for safe fertility procedures.

Living with HIV doesn't prevent you from having a child safely through surrogacy. It's possible to have a baby as an HIV+ man through the SPAR program and surrogacy through Circle Surrogacy.

The surrogacy process

For gay intended parents, the surrogacy process can feel complex: the need for an egg donor and a gestational surrogate, the surrogacy laws for LGBTQIA+ community, finding a surrogacy agency and an IVF clinic. There are many milestones throughout your journey, and working with an agency can help you navigate the events throughout your journey so that you can focus on the most important thing: preparing for the arrival of your baby!

3 steps to finding a surrogacy agency:

1. Research, research, research! Learn all there is to know about surrogacy.

2. Write down what's important to you in a surrogacy journey. What type of surrogate/intended parent relationship are you looking for? What level of surrogacy support do you want throughout your journey?

3. Make a list of agencies that fit your criteria, and reach out. Finding an agency that "feels right" is important!

Researching and choosing a surrogacy agency

Beginning your journey toward gay surrogacy is a big step, so it's important to do your research! Not every surrogacy agency is a good fit, finding a surrogacy agency with which you have good chemistry and who shares your views about surrogacy for gay individual or couples is key to a successful journey. Also, surrogacy laws vary by state, so working with an agency who has lawyers knowledgeable in ART and surrogacy law is important.

Finding a surrogate and an egg donor

Growing your family through surrogacy means bringing two very important women into your life: your surrogate mother and your egg donor. You may have a family member or friend who wants to act as your egg donor, or perhaps you'll find an egg donor in an egg donor database.

If you’re working with a surrogacy agency, your program coordinator will help find you a surrogate match. If you’re doing an independent surrogacy journey, you’ll need to find a gestational surrogate on your own. Surrogacy is an intimate experience, and agencies such as Circle Surrogacy will encourage you to form a strong bond with the woman who will carry your baby(ies).

Pregnancy and parenthood

Hooray, your surrogate is pregnant and you're getting ready to become a dad! You'll be further developing your relationship with your surrogate, and perhaps even visiting her for appointments. Your agency will be supporting you through each milestone, helping you prepare for traveling for the birth and ensuring you have everything you need to return home safely and securely.
 Surrogacy costs and programs

Surrogacy costs and programs

Surrogacy and egg donation costs can be broken down into four categories:

  • Professional fees
  • Surrogate and egg donor fees and expenses
  • Insurance expenses
  • IVF expenses

Guaranteed costs with our exclusive all-inclusive cost program.

Our program and surrogacy costs are structured to achieve two primary goals: success and cost security.

Circle is proud to offer the all-inclusive Journey Protection Guarantee Program, which is designed to help as many Intended Parents as possible bring home a baby while reducing variable costs.

Journey Protection Guarantee Program
Surrogacy only: $157,750
Surrogacy plus egg donation: $184,750
(both prices exclude IVF)

Our Journey Protection Guarantee offers Intended Parents:

  • An all-inclusive program that covers all Surrogate fees and expenses for unlimited transfers and any complications that may arise during your journey
  • No surprise costs or invoices, even in scenarios that require a rematch with a new Surrogate

The costs outlined above are for our Surrogacy Only and Surrogacy Plus Egg Donation Programs. For more information about the costs of our other programs, please email us or call us at 617.439.9900.

Finding an egg donor

Finding an egg donor is a big step in your family building journey. Learn how LGBTQIA+ singles and couples go about choosing a donor, what to look for in a donor, and how to agree with your partner on which egg donor is the best match.

How do you choose the right egg donor?

Finding the perfect egg donor can be a stressful process. After all, you are selecting the young woman who will be providing half of your baby's biology!

If you're a gay couple, and you're both submitting biology for the creation of your embryos, it's not as easy to have an image of what your child will be like. Making a decision on what the other half of your child's biology will be can be a little harder. Some LGBTQIA+ parents base the characteristics they look for in an egg donor on those of a close friend or family member.

Education? Appearance? Ethnicity? Personality? As you start your search, it's a good idea to have some thoughts as to what's important to you in an egg donor match.

And remember, nature vs nurture – not every characteristic or trait is hereditary!

Our advice to finding an egg donor: Be flexible!

Perhaps you have NO idea what you're looking for in an egg donor, or how to start your search. That's okay! Some intended parents take the "I'll know it when I see it" approach and create their list of criteria as they start looking through profiles.

Parents have told us that the ideal woman they thought they wanted as an egg donor, is not even close to the woman they ended up matching with.

Perhaps you have done your homework and have a list of 10 criteria you're looking for in an egg donor…only to find that there aren't any egg donors who meet your full list. Re-evaluate your list and prioritize your top 5 criteria and restart your search.

For example, one couple considered education and appearance to be their top priorities. As they started looking through our egg donor database, they weren't finding exactly what they were looking for. They removed some of the criteria from their search, and ended up finding their perfect woman, whose reasons for becoming an egg donor hooked them immediately.

The more open-minded you can be, the easier it will be to find your perfect match.

Circle has a thorough egg donor screening process

Egg donors who work with Circle need to meet a variety of medical, psychological, and demographic screening requirements to make sure they’re a healthy reproductive match for your family. Egg donors fill out lengthy questionnaires, and participate in a thorough screening with a social worker prior to be accepted into our program.

Circle offers Unlimited Egg Donor Matching

The Circle team does everything in our power to make your egg donation experience seamless and hassle-free. That’s why we offer Unlimited Egg Donor Matching, meaning we’ll keep matching you with new Circle Egg Donors until a live birth is achieved. It may take more (or less!) time than you expect, but working with our team means you’ll eventually find the right donor. It’s just one more thing you don’t have to worry about.

Circle is the most experienced egg donation agency

Circle is a premier egg donor agency with over 27 years of experience, and is partnered with outstanding IVF clinics and other field-leading institutions around the country. Our staff brings a wealth of egg donation experience, and full confidence that we can help you choose the perfect egg donor. We’re ready will guide you through the entire egg donation process and help you coordinate with an IVF clinic of your choice.
 Finding a surrogate mother

Finding a surrogate mother

Finding the woman who will act as your surrogate mother and carry your baby(ies) is one of the most exciting milestones during your surrogacy journey to parenthood. Trust your surrogacy agency to help you find the best surrogate match.

The first steps to finding a surrogate mother.

Many of Circle's surrogate mothers are excited at the prospect of helping building LGBTQIA+ families through surrogacy. They understand firsthand the joys of parenthood and want to share that experience with others.

Both gestational carriers and intended parents will fill out a questionnaire that asks them about the type of person they wish to be matched with, as well as what their expectations are from the surrogacy journey, and the level of communication with which they are comfortable. It's important to be honest when answering these questions, as our Matching Team uses these answers – as well as your geographic location and views on termination – in order to find you the best match.

Surrogate matching preferences for gay dads.

When you're working with a surrogacy agency such as Circle, there are certain criteria on which you will be matched with your gestational carrier.

Intended Parent matching criteria includes their preferences on:

  • Level of communication with their surrogate during the journey
  • Location of the surrogate mother
  • Number of embryos to transfer
  • Views on selective reduction and termination

If you are doing an independent surrogacy journey, you can use the above as guidelines as to what you should be looking for in a suitable match.

3 criteria for matching surrogates and LGBTQIA+ parents

1. Appropriate legal fit

In the United States, each state has its own laws regarding surrogacy. In addition, each country we assist has different requirements and laws regarding surrogacy. Therefore, our legal team ensures that the laws of the surrogate’s home state (where the delivery will take place) complement the laws of intended parents' home state/country (including laws around same sex parenting). The legal department will always approve a match from a legal standpoint before a surrogate profile is presented to intended parents. We will never knowingly present matches that are not a safe legal fit.

2. Personality fit and surrogacy expectations.

Once the legal team presents its list of safe matches, the matching team reviews the list to ensure good personality fits, since we want this to be a comfortable relationship throughout the entirety of the journey. Both surrogates and intended parents undergo phone calls or in-person meetings with the Circle team early in the process; these meetings help determine your personality as it relates to surrogacy. We also look at IPs' and surrogates' expectations and hopes for the journey including the number of embryos to transfer and communication styles.

3. Expectations Surrounding Termination and Selective Reduction.

We ask IPs and surrogates their views on termination of a pregnancy as we want to create a match of IPs and surrogates who share similar views. We want to ensure that the views of the surrogate and the views of the intended parents align in the event a situation arises where a reduction or termination is considered. In our experience, many intended parents prefer the option to make the choice of termination.

Building a strong relationship with your surrogate

Circle Surrogacy believes that strong relationships between surrogate mothers and intended parents lead to smoother, more successful journeys. Regular communication also helps intended parents feel comfortable with their surrogate, and feel part of the pregnancy and process.

As an LGBTQIA+ intended parent, building a relationship with your surrogate also helps you tell your child their origin story, and gives him/her the opportunity to know the woman who helped create your family. Because developing a relationship with your surrogate is so important, Circle strongly suggests a weekly video call (at minimum) between parents and surrogates via Skype or other video chat forum.

While the first Skype / Zoom meeting can be a little stressful, surrogate mothers and intended parents create their own cadence for communication; some speak to each other weekly, some send text updates, while others chat daily and send photos frequently.

LGBTQ partnerships and organizations