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  • Kristin Marsoli

Surrogacy 101: A Short Guide to How Surrogacy Works


Surrogacy definition in dictionary

In recent years, surrogacy has become a common form of assisted reproduction. If you’re looking to learn more about surrogacy or gestational surrogacy, you’ve come to the right place! Find out how surrogacy works below.


What Is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy is the process by which a woman bears a child for another person or couple, becoming pregnant either through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI).


Gestational vs. Traditional

There are two types of surrogacy: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In gestational surrogacy, the more common practice, a surrogate becomes pregnant via in vitro fertilization and is not genetically related to the child to whom she gives birth.


In a traditional surrogacy, a surrogate becomes pregnant via intrauterine insemination, uses her own eggs, and has a genetic connection to the baby. Today, the vast majority of surrogacy arrangements involve gestational surrogacy. All of Circle’s surrogacy agreements are between gestational surrogates and intended parents.


Learn more about the differences between the two types in our related blog post.


Traditional Surrogacy vs Gestational Surrogacy

Compensated vs. Uncompensated

When arranging a gestational surrogacy, there are two options: compensated surrogacy and uncompensated surrogacy. In a compensated surrogacy, the surrogate, sometimes referred to as a gestational carrier, receives payment for her services. The intended parents pay all medical costs in this arrangement, and the parties typically work with a surrogacy agency, like Circle.


In an uncompensated (sometimes called “altruistic”) surrogacy arrangement, the gestational carrier is often a friend or relative of the intended parents, and she receives no payment outside of reimbursement for medical expenses. The majority of surrogacy arrangements, including Circle’s, involve compensated surrogacy.


Surrogate compensation is based on a variety of different factors including the state you live in, if you’ve been a surrogate before, if you have health insurance, and other considerations. If you’re interested in calculating your estimated compensation, you can do so on our Payments & Benefits page!


Who Does Surrogacy Help?

People turn to surrogacy to build their families for various reasons. Intended parents include:

  • Heterosexual couples who have suffered pregnancy losses and have been unsuccessful with assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization or intrauterine insemination

  • 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 the baby


How Does Surrogacy Work?

Learn more about what to expect during your surrogacy journey below.


Getting Pregnant

The process by which a surrogate becomes pregnant depends on the type of surrogacy. With gestational surrogacy, the gestational carrier becomes pregnant by IVF. First, the intended mother’s eggs or eggs from an egg donor are retrieved through a simple surgical procedure and fertilized by sperm (either the intended father’s or a donor’s) in a petri dish. The resulting embryos are cultivated in the laboratory for several days before one or more are transferred into the carrier’s uterus.


Carrying the Pregnancy

Once the pregnancy is confirmed, the surrogacy journey continues like a traditional pregnancy, with periodic medical appointments. The main difference is that after the baby is delivered, the baby will be under the love and care of the intended parents, and the surrogate will waive any parental rights.


How To Become a Surrogate

Women must meet certain requirements to become a surrogate. Here are Circle Surrogacy’s requirements:

  • Has delivered a child of their own and is currently parenting at least one child.

  • Has had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as documented by medical records.

  • Is between 21 and 41 years of age.

  • Typically have 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.

  • Does not participate in the following government aid programs: cash assistance, welfare, public housing, and section 8. All other forms of government assistance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

  • Live in a surrogate-friendly state in the United States (we are very sorry, but we cannot accept gestational carriers who reside in Nebraska, Louisiana, or Michigan).

  • Has a valid driver’s license.

  • Has the support of her family. If married or partnered, the surrogate must have her partner’s support. Also, the surrogate and her partner/primary support person must agree to participate in a social work screening.

  • Is financially secure.

  • Leads a stable, responsible lifestyle.

  • Is willing to travel for the IVF process. Please note, these trips often include overnight stays.

  • Does not use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, or abuse alcohol.


Find more information about surrogacy on an array of topics on our blog.


Interested in becoming a surrogate at Circle? Apply today!

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