Step-By-Step Surrogacy Process for Intended Parents
A surrogacy journey consists of many milestones that lead to the biggest event of all: bringing home your baby. Every journey is different and on its own timeline, and our experienced team will be by your side for the duration of your surrogacy. The length of the process depends on your personal preferences and situation, but an average journey can last 24-27 months.
5 Steps in the Surrogacy Process
While the surrogacy process may seem complicated as you begin, we advise you to look at the full journey in five steps. Our goal is to ensure you understand what the process entails, and what you can expect during each milestone, as well as approximate timing. Remember, every surrogacy is different, so timing may not be exact for your journey.
1. Consultation and Sign on
2. Matching With Your Surrogate
3. Medical and Legal
Consultation and Sign On
Once you've signed on with an agency, we will introduce you to your Matching Specialist, who will work closely with you to find the right surrogate match. If you already have an IVF clinic selected, we will connect with your clinic; if you haven’t yet selected a clinic, Circle will assist you in choosing an IVF Clinic, as we have long-standing relationships with many well-known clinics around the country.
If you already have embryos created, you are all set until your surrogate match. If you need to create embryos, you will do so at this point in time.
If you require an egg donor for your surrogacy journey, Circle will guide you in beginning that process. We recommend starting your search with Everie Egg Donation Program, who offers both fresh and frozen egg donor programs.
Should you select an egg donor with Everie, your Circle coordination team will be your support system on both your egg donation and surrogacy journeys.
Consult with agency
Sign agreement for services
Intro video call with team
Match with egg donor (if needed)
Matching With Your Surrogate
The matching stage is one of the most exciting – you will be finding the amazing woman who will help you grow your family! All of our surrogates are fully vetted in our 3-step screening process. Our Matching Specialists carefully select intended parents and surrogates for a match based on criteria shared by both parties. We’ve successfully matched hundreds of parents and surrogates with our understanding of what goes into a healthy relationship for a surrogacy journey. Learn more about our matching process and our criteria for matching.
Once intended parents are matched with a surrogate, Circle will introduce them to their Journey Coordination team who will take the time to explain the upcoming surrogacy steps and process in detail so you fully understand what to expect at each milestone. This will also be the team who manages your journey and supports you every step of the way. Your team consists of Program Coordinators/Managers, a lawyer, an accountant and medical billing specialist.
Matching process & approval
Intro video call with surrogate
Start journey to pregnancy
Medical and Legal
During the medical & legal phase, there are many mini milestones of your journey.
Surrogate medical screening
First, your gestational surrogate will go to your IVF clinic for her medical screening. This is a day of testing and examinations with your IVF doctor, which can consist of blood tests, sonograms and ultrasounds. Sometimes, intended parents will go to the clinic as well and meet their surrogate in person for the first time.
After the medical screening – and once your surrogate has been cleared by your IVF doctor – your gestational surrogate will receive her protocol and begin her medications and monitoring at her local clinic. Because your surrogate will be required to check in with the clinic often to ensure her body is responding to the medications, she will do this at a clinic that is close to where she lives (this is also called "local monitoring"). Circle and your IVF clinic will work together to find the best clinic and make these arrangements for you.
During this time, you will also be working with your lawyer to draft the Carrier Agreement (surrogacy contract), while your surrogate works with her own lawyer. Intended parents and surrogates each have their own legal counsel to work through the Carrier Agreement. This step could take a few weeks as both parties negotiate the terms of the contract.
When the clinic determines that your surrogate is ready for her embryo transfer, she will travel to your IVF clinic. This is usually a 4-7 day trip. Intended parents can attend this milestone in person and spend time with their surrogate and her support person. After the transfer, your surrogate will return home and once again have regular appointments at her local clinic for her beta tests until there is hopefully a confirmed pregnancy (approximately 10-14 days after embryo transfer). At 6 weeks, she will visit her clinic for an ultrasound and confirmation of heartbeat.
Your surrogate will transition from her local clinic to her chosen OBGYN around 10 weeks of pregnancy. The next milestone in her pregnancy will be the anatomy scan, which will occur between 16-20 weeks of pregnancy. Many intended parents will try to attend this appointment if they are able. During this visit, the OB will perform an anatomy scan of the baby. This is an in-depth ultrasound that shows 3D photos of your baby, and also an opportunity to find out the gender of your baby if you wish to do so.
Birth Plan and Parental Rights
Towards the second half of the pregnancy, intended parents will also begin working on two important documents: their birth plan and their parental rights. The birth plan is outlined with their surrogate to outline what delivery day will look like, and include all parties’ preferences for the day. Your Circle support team can help you put this document together to ensure everyone’s hopes for delivery day are captured. Intended parents will begin to establish their parental rights with their lawyer and local counsel (in the state where your surrogate is delivering).
And don’t forget about the fun stuff as you prepare to bring home your baby: decorating the nursery, booking travel for delivery and packing baby’s first outfits for travel home.
Create birth plan
Establish parental rights
Hospital and delivery prep
Your baby's birth!
Birth & Beyond
It has been an emotional journey, and you're finally holding your baby in your arms, and inhaling that amazing new baby smell!
When the doctor releases your baby from the hospital, you are free to take your baby home. It can be hard to believe – the hospital is entrusting you with this very small baby! Your Circle support team will be there to guide you through these early days, remind you of any tasks to be completed (such as adding your baby to your health insurance), and to answer any and all questions.
U.S. parents usually travel home shortly after they are released – usually a few days – either by car or plane. International parents may stay in the U.S. for up to 4 weeks (or longer) after the baby's birth to finalize travel and obtain the baby's passport if needed. How long you stay in your baby’s birth city is up to you; some parents stay longer to spend time with their surrogate and her family, while others return home to start their “baby routine”.
Soak up the "new parent" wonderfulness
Obtain baby's passport (if needed)
Say goodbye to your surrogate & her family
An Emotional Journey Home
Going home may trigger many different emotions: excitement, happiness, anxiety, sadness. Saying goodbye to your surrogate can be hard - but it doesn't have to be 'goodbye' it can be 'see you soon'! The bond you've built with your surrogate will be like no other, and you'll find the right way to say goodbye that's personal to you and your journey. It's important to ensure your surrogate is able to have a moment to say goodbye to the baby, too. She has cared for this little one for you and has been waiting for this day to give your baby back to you.
We understand that this process – while exciting – can feel a bit overwhelming. There's so much to coordinate and think about. For this very reason, intended parents choose to work with Circle and our experienced and passionate team to help manage every step of the journey.