As a surrogate, when you embark on a journey with Circle, we promise to be beside you every step of the way. We promise to educate, lead and guide you through your surrogacy journey.
Many of us on the Circle staff are experienced surrogates ourselves. We know firsthand how fulfilling and, sometimes, complex this journey can be, which is why we are open to sharing our experiences and answering any of your questions.
Our two-way matching process focuses on finding the best fit for you and your intended parents. We offer extensive support to our surrogates from the moment you start researching through the pregnancy and delivery, and beyond. When you become a surrogate with Circle, you are joining a community of hundreds of incredible women who have helped build families. We have been supporting surrogates for nearly three decades, and we've seen and successfully navigated almost every situation.
At Circle, we have the highest level of dedication to our surrogates than any other agency. We offer an exclusive private social community for our surrogates to connect with other surrogates, as well as local meet ups. We'll help you navigate the road, smooth the bumps, and cheer when we reach our destination. Every person who works at Circle is dedicated to you and your journey.
The Surrogacy Process
A gestational surrogate has no genetic or biological relationship to the child/children they carry. These are the only types of arrangements that Circle Surrogacy facilitates. By contrast, traditional surrogates are both genetic and gestational mothers and relinquish custody of the resulting child/children after birth.
As an agency, we provide you with full support and guidance throughout the entire process. All aspects of your surrogacy journey are handled by our team, from matching, to screening, to legal work, to social work support. We handle any issues that may arise.
Once we receive your online application, we will contact you within 1-2 business days. If you meet our initial qualifications, you will gain access to our Surrogate Portal, where you can move forward in the pre-screening and screening processes. The Portal contains online forms that allow you to submit photos, medical history information, insurance details, matching preferences, etc. Once you’ve completed these tasks and we have reviewed your medical records as well as insurance information, we will schedule screening calls for you and your support person with one of our licensed social workers.
A member of our experienced social work team will speak to you in detail about the surrogacy process and what you should expect. You will have the opportunity to ask all of your questions about our program, the IVF cycle, the matching process as well as how we support you during the pregnancy, insurance issues, compensation, etc. During this screening, we will ask you many questions about your support system and your motivations for being a surrogate mother. In addition, your support person will also be screened.
Successful surrogate applicants:
Have delivered a child of their own
Are between 21 - 44 years of age
Do not participate in certain government aid programs including cash assistance, welfare, public housing or section 8. All other forms of government assistance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Typically have a Body Mass Index (BMI) no higher than 33
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)
Have the support of family and friends
Do not use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, or abuse alcohol
You can view our full list of surrogate requirements here.
We are unable to accept applicants enrolled in certain government programs, including cash assistance, welfare, public housing, and Section 8 housing. The income requirements for these programs are generally stricter than other programs, such as food stamps, WIC, and subsidized childcare. Reimbursements received while you are acting as a gestational surrogate could potentially make you ineligible for certain benefits.
BMI guidelines are set by the IVF clinics, and we require documentation that verifies your current BMI. The BMI requirements are established not only for health reasons, but also to ensure that you will respond appropriately to the medications necessary for this process. To learn more about the importance of BMI, click here.
Most of our intended parents ultimately want the power to make decisions about their own family. Please inquire with our staff whether or not we currently have intended parents who would not terminate a pregnancy due to a severe medical diagnosis of the fetus.
Yes, if you are breastfeeding, you can still apply. If you meet all requirements, we will work with you to determine the best timeline for you to move forward.
Based on guidelines set by fertility clinics, we can begin surrogates 3 months after a vaginal delivery or 6 months after a delivery by C-section.
At this time we are unable to accept applicants who have experienced postpartum depression for which they were prescribed antidepressants after their most recent delivery, numerous prior deliveries, or all prior deliveries.
We review antidepressant use on a case-by-case basis while reviewing medical records.
We require that all surrogates and egg donors in our program have the full support of their significant other. If you are not married, you must have a support person in place with whom you will share the journey. Your primary support person will also have a screening with our social work team.
Some STIs/STDs will disqualify you. HIV and Hepatitis (or any others that could be communicated to a fetus/baby) would disqualify you, whereas others, such as genital warts and genital herpes, may not.
You cannot be a surrogate mother to a child you are currently carrying, as intended parents typically contribute their own genetic material to children born through surrogacy, and the surrogacy process requires a great deal of planning before you become pregnant. However, you might consider adoption as an alternative. Feel free to contact our office, and we can provide contact information for an adoption agency or attorney near you.
We have recommended limits. Your social worker will discuss a suggested fee with you if you are unsure. She will also talk with you about the added fees you will receive, such as multiple pregnancy, cesarean section, travel allowance, maternity clothing, invasive procedures, transfer fee, signing bonus, monthly miscellaneous fees, and other fees you may require. Review our surrogate compensation and benefits here.
Yes. You should plan to be available to travel for the transfer, which is typically a four- to seven-day trip. You can be medically screened and monitored closer to home, but you will need to travel to the IVF clinic for the transfer. At times, the overseeing IVF clinic will require you to travel for an initial screening. This is typically a one- or two-day trip.
You select your OB or midwife for your prenatal care. We ask that if a midwife is chosen, that he/she is overseen by an OB. In the instance you are carrying multiples, you may be asked to see a maternal fetal medicine doctor.
Yes. Your surrogate advisor and your social worker will discuss your comfort level in transferring more than 1 embryo.
Guidelines vary from one IVF clinic to another. However, there is typically a modified bed rest required for 24-36 hours post transfer.
In the surrogacy medical process, carriers are usually expected to abstain from sexual intercourse for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after a transfer; however, your IVF clinic will give you more specific guidelines.
Physically speaking, the pregnancy is no different than a traditional pregnancy! Circle and your medical providers will be there to answer any questions and support you in this process.
You may experience symptoms similar to those you would experience during your monthly cycle, such as mood swings. Your hormones will be changing and these changes in mood are normal, as they are during any pregnancy.
This is generally not an issue. For any medical questions, you can speak to the IVF doctor for more information.
Matching and Intended Parents
Yes. We have all kinds of families who are looking for surrogate mothers, including married couples, single parents, same-sex couples, domestic and international couples, and single people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. We have parents who are hoping to add to their families and others who are having a child for the first time.
It's difficult to give a sense of "typical" intended parents in our program since they come from around the world and all types of backgrounds. Generally, about 55% of our intended parents identify as straight and 45% identify as LGBTQIA+. Approximately 60% of Circle's intended parents live in the United States and 40% live abroad. Finally, 88% are couples and 12% are single individuals. When you apply to become a surrogate, we will ask about your matching preferences to make sure you are comfortable with the intended parents you will be working with.
Being open and flexible with your matching preferences can help reduce the time it takes to match you. Typically, we are able to match surrogates more quickly because we have many intended parents waiting.
Typically our surrogates and intended parents will meet each other via video call before moving forward with a match. We encourage both parties to get to know each other and to make sure you feel the match is right. More often you will meet them in person for the first time at the screening or transfer stage.
You should expect whatever level of contact makes you comfortable, as every journey is unique. We do ask all of our intended parents to be in touch at least once a week from the time they meet you until delivery. Some people choose to have more frequent contact than this, especially around the time of the birth. However, it is not required. Before you cycle and during the pregnancy, you can expect phone calls, emails, and maybe an occasional visit, particularly for OB appointments and ultrasounds. After you deliver, we encourage our surrogate mothers and families to remain in contact through emails, phone calls, pictures and letters or maybe an occasional visit. Everyone is encouraged to do what makes them most comfortable. For most, the relationship develops naturally over time.
Our international couples and single individuals make every effort to be there for the delivery and, oftentimes, are there earlier to support you. Our intended parents cannot ensure that they will be on time for the arrival regardless of where they live. However, most of our intended parents to date have been able to make it in time.
Yes. You can ask for a daycare allowance or have your lost wages compensated so your children can be cared for while you are gone.
The law varies from state to state so it will depend on where you live as well as where your intended parents are from. The attorneys in our program take this into account when matching you with your intended parents. This attention to detail ensures all legal work can be accomplished. Sometimes this is done by a pre-birth order, sometimes by virtue of a single, or a second-parent adoption.
We'll recommend attorneys whom we have worked with in the past and with whom we know have a strong understanding of Assisted Reproduction Technology law. We do this because we want to be sure that the attorney is familiar with surrogacy. We also prefer working with attorneys who are comfortable accepting a flat fee for services. That said, you are free to find an attorney with whom you feel comfortable. Of course, your legal fees are covered by your intended parents.
Yes. This legal aspect of surrogacy is taken care of before we proceed with a transfer.
The intended parents.
We screen our intended parents to make an assessment of the stability in their relationship. If a divorce should occur, you would NOT have to assume care of the child. Custody would be worked out between the intended parents.
Circle offers a comprehensive benefits package for all surrogates. As a surrogate you have the ability to customize your benefits and how you'll use your payments. Surrogate compensation varies depending on your insurance, state of residence, whether you've been a surrogate before, and the terms outlined in your Carrier Agreement.
The IRS does not require 1099s for surrogacy payments. However, you must speak to your tax attorney or accountant about your specific situation. Laws vary from state to state and you should have advice from a tax attorney or accountant to discuss your surrogacy payments and if they are taxable.
Your insurance company (or the surrogate maternity insurance coverage we obtain for you and your intended parents) will pay most of the bills related to your pregnancy and delivery. If there are any additional unexpected costs, your intended parents will cover those costs, as well as IVF medical procedures, expenses, co-payments, and deductibles related to your surrogate pregnancy.
Surrogate reimbursements are divided up into equal monthly installments paid on the first of every month following the confirmation of heartbeat, which typically happens around 6-8 weeks gestation.
If you are carrying multiple children, you will receive an additional multiples fee paid to you over the last five months. After 34 weeks for singletons and 32 weeks for multiples, the pregnancy is considered viable. If you deliver before 40 weeks, you get a lump sum for the remaining balance. The remainder of the miscellaneous fees are distributed at various times throughout the pregnancy and will be discussed in your screening.
Our coordinator works to find you a $250,000 life insurance policy. The intended parents pay the premiums. You choose the beneficiaries.
No. Your intended parents will pay the fees outlined for you in your screening and agreed upon in the contract. This is not meant to be an out-of-pocket expense to you.
Yes! Experienced carriers typically request an additional $5,000 added to their base fee, which acknowledges their experience and successful fulfillment of surrogacy from their first journey. We will work with you to determine the exact additional amount you require for your specific situation as many experienced surrogates return with a better understanding of their financial needs during the process than they did the first time.
This depends on the IVF clinic that you are matched with, but most clinics allow a transfer to occur 9 to 12 months after your most recent vaginal delivery or 12 months after a c-section delivery.
We advise you to wait at least three months after vaginal delivery to re-apply and six months after a c-section. You deserve to have dedicated time to your postpartum recovery and to focus on yourself and your family. Ultimately, however, the choice is yours.
Our re-screening process is typically much faster and shorter. There are fewer documents to fill out, fewer medical records to collect, and the screening with your social worker is about half the length of your initial screening.
The process for a sibling journey looks very similar from an application and screening perspective. Typically, the main concern for sibling journeys is the timeline, as you will probably be ready to return for a subsequent journey before your intended parents are ready. IPs generally need more time before returning for a sibling journey as they now have a newborn and have invested a lot of finances into their first journey. All parties should discuss their timeline expectations so that everyone is on the same page.
Yes! While it's a special experience to do a sibling journey with your intended parents, that might not be something they are planning – or are ready for. You can be matched with a new set of parents.
Whether you are an intended parent, a surrogate or an egg donor, when you embark on a journey with Circle, we promise to be beside you every step of the way. We promise to educate, lead and guide you through your surrogacy and egg donation journey. We will work tirelessly to help you achieve success and fulfill your dream.
Here are reasons Intended Parents choose Circle Surrogacy:
1. We're a full service agency.
2. We encourage relationships between parents, surrogates and egg donors.
3. We practice a high-quality process for screening our surrogates and donors.
4. We offer an all-inclusive fixed cost program: The Journey Protection Guarantee Program.
5. 44% of our staff has personal experience with surrogacy, egg donation, IVF and adoption.
The Surrogacy Process
There are two types of surrogacy—gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. In a typical gestational surrogacy arrangement, intended parents create embryos through in vitro fertilization. One or more of these embryos is implanted in a surrogate (sometimes known as a gestational carrier), who carries the child or children to term, but has no genetic relationship to them. Gestational surrogacies makeup the vast majority of modern surrogacy arrangements.
By contrast, traditional surrogates typically become pregnant through artificial insemination, and have a genetic connection to the child or children they carry for their intended parents. At Circle, we only provide gestational surrogacy services.
Starting your surrogacy journey begins with a complimentary consultation with our experienced team. You'll speak with an attorney as well as a process consultant. In this meeting you'll have an opportunity to share your story with us and why you've chosen surrogacy to grow your family, and we'll explain about our process and program offerings, and answer any questions you have.
In most cases, yes. Every agency sets their own guidelines and requirements for acceptance into their program, at Circle it is an agency requirement to have an identified medical need by a treating physician.
There are many definitions of a "medical need", including physical or psychological. Circle does not support surrogacy as a lifestyle choice (this is called “social surrogacy”). In some cases, intended parents may require a letter from their physician outlining the need for our gestational surrogacy services.
We review each intended parents' story on a case-by-case basis, so please reach out to our Parent Intake team with any questions at: [email protected]
Openness, honesty and communication are core values at Circle Surrogacy. We encourage building meaningful relationships that will continue to exist throughout the life of the child. As intended parents you are encouraged to visit your surrogate in her home town at least once – and, when possible, more often – to get to know her family and where she's from.
Most of our surrogates already have relationships with an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) and many will deliver at the same hospital where they gave birth to their own children. All surrogates will deliver at a hospital near their home. The decision about where to deliver is typically made in conjunction with the OBGYN and the insurance company, which may have a network of approved providers and hospitals. Occasionally, our legal team will recommend that a delivery occur at a specific hospital.
Intended parents often wish to be a part of the labor and delivery process. Hospital policy and your surrogate’s comfort play a large role in determining who will be able to be present in the delivery room. Following the birth, the baby will either remain in the nursery or a room assigned to you. According to most hospital policies, the child cannot be released from the hospital until the surrogate has been released.
Circle’s legal team coordinates with local attorneys to ensure that you are properly matched with a surrogate in a state where you can accomplish the necessary legal work to finalize your parental rights. Once you are matched, we negotiate contracts on your behalf with independent attorneys who represent your surrogate. Circle works with local attorneys in the states where the surrogates reside in order to accomplish the legal work necessary to secure your parental rights. Depending on a variety of factors, your surrogacy legal work may include a pre-birth order, a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, a judgment of paternity, a custody order, or an adoption.
Of course! Circle has decades of experience supporting intended parents from a variety of backgrounds: single individuals, LGBTQIA+ couples and heterosexual couples.
Intended parents may choose to pursue surrogacy without an agency’s assistance, saving between $20,000 and $40,000. All other costs associated with a surrogacy journey remain. Without an agency managing the process, however, surrogacy requires an extensive time commitment for the intended parents. Coordinating and communicating with IVF clinics, local monitoring clinics, and hospitals—details otherwise managed by an agency—are now the intended parents’ responsibility. You will also need to hire a lawyer or lawyers to handle all the legal matters involved in the surrogacy process.
At Circle, our first priority is always your health – ensuring you're ready for a surrogacy journey both physically and mentally. Cancer treatments are different for everyone, and continue to evolve. We suggest that you fill out a parent form [link to parent form] to be connected with our Parent team, where you can speak with a cancer survivor and parent through surrogacy and discuss the best path forward.
Yes. In fact, Circle has cancer survivors on staff who are parents through surrogacy, who are more than happy to share their personal stories, and help support and guide you through the process. Circle also offers a networking group for intended parents in their program who have come to surrogacy after a medical diagnosis, such as cancer. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and connect with other intended parents who may have had similar experiences that led them to surrogacy.
International Intended Parents
Ideally, international intended parents come to the United States 2-3 times (for embryo creation at the fertility center and the eventual delivery of the child). We encourage our international intended parents to try and visit at least one additional time if possible; most parents will choose to come for the embryo transfer and/or the anatomy scan (usually around 16-20 weeks).
This varies based on the legal work required and the procedures in the state in which the child was delivered. As a general rule, we advise international intended parents to plan on returning home after approximately 4 weeks, to allow ample time for any DNA testing, court proceedings, the issuance of any birth certificates and the application for any visas and/or passports. We will guide you through this process. Depending on legal work, you may be able to go home sooner.
Because of a legal principle known as jus soli, babies born in the United States are automatically entitled to U.S. citizenship and U.S. passports, regardless of whether the intended parents are themselves U.S. citizens. As a result, most intended parents who pursue American surrogacy are able to return home with their children without first obtaining a passport from their native country. Nevertheless, some international intended parents may choose to – or be required to – obtain either passports or temporary visas for their children at a local consulate in the United States in order to return home after the birth. Intended parents should consult with immigration attorneys in their native countries for information about the best procedures for returning home with their children. Circle will assist you in getting the U.S. passport through one of our partners, an expert in navigating the passport system.
No. All of Circle’s costs in our all inclusive, fixed cost program are for all intended parents, living in the U.S. or abroad. The only additional funds that international parents should factor in are any travel costs to the United States during their journey.