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The Ultimate Guide to Surrogacy in California

When you first begin looking into surrogacy—whether you are a woman who is interested in becoming a surrogate mother or intended parents hoping to grow your family through surrogacy—it can feel a little overwhelming. We're here to help you navigate surrogacy in California, from the surrogacy process, to how to find a surrogate, to how to become a surrogate mother. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are ready to help you begin this truly life-changing path.

Circle Surrogacy – located in the Bay Area – has been helping straight and LGBTQ+ singles and couples in California grow their families through surrogacy and egg donation for 25 years. Our bay area agency has compiled some resources to help you get started.

We're ready to help intended parents and surrogates from Northern California – San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose – down the coast from Los Angeles and Long Beach to Irvine and San Diego. Speak with Circle to start your surrogacy journey today!
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Table of Contents

 An Overview of Surrogacy in California

An Overview of Surrogacy in California

California is a surrogacy-friendly state for both gestational carriers (surrogate mothers) and intended parents. Whether you live in a large city, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco or Sacramento—or less populated areas of California—here's everything you need to know about gestational surrogacy.

Surrogacy enables couples and individuals from a variety of backgrounds, ages and sexual orientations to build their families.

Each surrogacy journey is unique. The types of intended parents from California who may use surrogacy to grow their families are:

• Heterosexual couples who have struggled with infertility
• 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
LGBTQ+ intended parents who want to have a genetic link to their baby

On this page you'll learn why California is one of the best states in the U.S. for surrogacy, what the state's surrogacy process involves, how to become parents or a surrogate mother, and what surrogacy costs.

 Map of California

Why California Is a Great State for Surrogacy

California is home to some of the world's best IVF clinics, and many of Circle Surrogacy's intended parents who live on the West Coast or in Asia travel to California to work with top reproductive endocrinologists. Circle Surrogacy has strong partnerships with top California clinics. If you’re already established with an IVF clinic, we’re happy to work with your clinic of choice.

Also, while it's not always the case, California surrogate mothers tend to have less need for traveling to IVF clinic appointments if their intended parents are working with a CA IVF clinic.

Circle Surrogacy is based in both Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area, and we have team members who are parents through surrogacy and always happy to share their experiences. Intended parents looking for surrogacy agencies in San Francisco or other parts of California can connect with local Circle team members. We schedule consultations in our California surrogacy office in addition to being available for consults via Skype during the day and evenings.

The Surrogacy Process in California

The surrogacy process can be complex at times, with many milestones that lead to the final outcome: delivery day! It's important to understand and prepare for the steps in the surrogacy process, whether you are an intended parent or a surrogate mother.

You may choose to undergo your surrogacy journey independently, or with the help of a surrogacy agency. Working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy, which has 25 years of experience, can help you navigate the milestones and events throughout your journey so that you can focus on preparing for the arrival of your baby.

Choosing an Agency

Beginning your journey toward surrogacy is a big step, so it's essential to do your research. Not every surrogacy agency is a good fit; choose one which shares your views about the surrogacy process and where you sense good chemistry. And because surrogacy laws vary from state to state, it’s important to work with an agency whose lawyers are knowledgeable in ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) and surrogacy law. We’ll help you understand California's surrogacy laws.

Finding a Surrogate and Egg Donor
Your Program Coordination Team helps you find the perfect surrogate match and encourages you to form a strong bond with the woman who will carry your baby or babies. Before matching with a surrogate, intended parents will usually find and match with an egg donor (if needed). You can search our egg donor database, where you'll find bright and ambitious young women who are excited for the opportunity to help you grow your family.
Pregnancy and Parenthood
The final part of the process is one in which you further develop a relationship with your surrogate during pregnancy. If she lives close to California, you may even be able to visit for her appointments. Our agency supports you through each milestone, helping you prepare to travel for the birth and ensuring you have everything you need to return home safely.
 Starting the Surrogacy Process

Starting the Surrogacy Process

Once you've identified surrogacy as the way you'd like to grow your family, and you've selected an agency you'd like to meet with, the first step is to schedule a consultation. Meeting with the agencies you're considering is an important step because it's a great time to share your story, get questions answered, and see if the agency team is a good fit for your journey.

Private surrogacy consultations educate intended parents on the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, and how to find and match with a surrogate mother. Our complimentary consultations are for those who are emotionally and financially ready to begin a surrogacy journey within the next 12 months.

 Lady in white sweater checking phone
Although we prefer to meet in-person with intended parents for our consultations, everyone’s health and safety is our primary focus. Instead of in-person meetings in the near future, we are offering free consultations with our team over Skype or Zoom.

If you're not ready for a full consultation but would like more information, you can schedule a 15-minute chat with a member of our team.
 Becoming a Parent in California

Becoming a Parent in California

Bringing a baby into your family is one of the greatest joys you can experience. Becoming a parent in California is safe and simple, as California is a surrogacy-friendly state for intended parents who are interested in growing their families through surrogacy and or egg donation.

Circle Surrogacy works with many parents on the West Coast. We have an office in the San Francisco Bay area, where we meet with parents and partner with local IVF clinics. We know that one of the first questions intended parents ask is how much does surrogacy cost? Our comprehensive cost sheets outline the surrogacy costs you should expect in a typical surrogacy journey.

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

If you're thinking about having a baby through surrogacy, we can help you understand the surrogacy programs available, the cost of surrogacy, and how much you can expect to pay for egg donation. Circle Surrogacy is transparent in its surrogacy options, costs and what you can expect along your journey.

At Circle Surrogacy, we offer one all-inclusive cost program: our Journey Protection Guarantee program.

Journey Protection Guarantee Program surrogacy costs in California:

Surrogacy only: $142,250
Surrogacy plus egg donation: $163,250
(both prices exclude IVF)

Our Journey Protection Guarantee offers Intended Parents:

  • An all-inclusive cost that covers unlimited transfers and any complications that may arise during your journey
  • 100% refund of our agency fee if you have no embryos remaining and do not bring home a baby
  • No surprise costs or invoices

Learn More

Circle's costs include all agency fees, attorneys’ fees, screening and surrogate fees, and insurance costs. They do not include IVF costs.

Financing your surrogacy journey

Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation is proud to be the only surrogacy agency to offer an exclusive financing plan for intended parents living in California, through our partnership with Origin Finance, LLC. Our new financing plan helps make surrogacy an option for even more intended parents to grow their families.

Learn more about our financing plan here, or by calling 415.906.7278.

 Finding a Surrogate Mother in California

Finding a Surrogate Mother in California

Finding your surrogate match is an exciting time in your journey to parenthood. Circle works with many surrogate mothers from California, as well as most of the surrounding states. Additionally, Circle Surrogacy has an office in the San Francisco area, making it even easier for surrogates and intended parents to connect. If you're looking for a surrogate mother in San Francisco, Los Angeles or southern California (or in neighboring states), we can help you find your surrogate mother match.

Get Started

Thinking about what's important to you in your gestational carrier and journey will make it easier to find a surrogate on your own (if you're undergoing an independent journey) or to determine if your surrogacy agency has presented you with a good match.

The first steps in finding a surrogate mother match is to determine what you're looking for in a surrogate, what you’d like your relationship with your surrogate to be, and the expectations you have for your journey.

We ask intended parents to fill out a profile that help us to get to know them better and find appropriate surrogate matches.

The information we ask for in the profile includes your:

  • Relationship (if you have a partner)
  • Family
  • Hobbies and activities
  • Plans for parenthood
  • Reasons for pursuing surrogacy

We'll ask that you also share photos of yourself, your loved ones and any other photos that give a good sense of who you are as people.

Your Circle Program Coordination Team uses your answers—as well as your geographic location and views on termination— so it's important to be honest when thinking about how you answer these questions. That's a key element of finding the best surrogate match for you.

In addition to your profile, there are certain criteria on which you will be matched with your gestational carrier. Intended parent matching criteria include 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 look for in a suitable match.

 3 Criteria for Finding Surrogate Mothers

3 Criteria for Finding Surrogate Mothers

When you embark on your search for a surrogate mother in California, keep these 3 criteria in mind:

Appropriate legal fit: Our legal department always ensures potential matches meet the requirements of California's surrogacy laws before surrogate profiles are presented to intended parents.

Personality fit and surrogacy expectations: Your Program Coordination team reviews the list of safe matches provided by the legal team to ensure good personality fits because we want both surrogates and intended parents to have a comfortable relationship throughout the journey.

Expectations surrounding termination and selective reduction: It's important that surrogates and intended parents share similar views about the termination of a pregnancy if a situation develops in which a reduction or termination is considered. In our experience, many intended parents prefer the option to make the choice regarding termination.

 Search egg donor database

Finding an Egg Donor in California

Egg donation is the process of a fertile woman donating her eggs to allow another woman to conceive a child, whether she’s the intended parent herself or a surrogate for heterosexual or homosexual couples/individuals. If you or your significant other has infertility concerns, then building your family through egg donation may be the best option for you.

We’re ready to guide you through finding an egg donor in California, the entire egg donation process, and helping you coordinate with an IVF clinic of your choice. The first place most intended parents start their egg donor search is in an egg donor database. Most Egg Donor databases are set up so that you can search for an egg donor by certain criteria. Circle's egg donor database is easy to use, and easy to navigate.
 Surrogacy Laws in California

Surrogacy Laws in California

California has long been known as a great location to pursue surrogacy. Its favorable surrogacy laws have allowed Circle Surrogacy to successfully match surrogates with intended parents for over two decades.

California’s favorable statute recognizes contracts for gestational surrogacy arrangements as well as egg, sperm, and embryo donations. The state’s comprehensive law protects the rights of the surrogate, the intended parents, the baby, and the egg donor (if one is needed). Even in cases where the statute is not fully followed, California’s 20-plus years of positive case law tends to fully protect the parties.

Determining Parentage in California

Establishing parentage for surrogacy in California is a seamless process for everyone involved. Generally, surrogates in California won’t ever appear in court. Even in cases where a post-birth action is warranted (i.e., intended parents' citizenship needs), the surrogate won’t need to appear in court. The parties simply need to review and sign legal documentation and return it to the attorneys handling the matter.

 Surrogate Carrier Being Supported by Fellow Surrogate Carrier

Becoming a Surrogate Mother in California

Women who become surrogate mothers are generous, adventurous and kind. They are teachers, nurses and stay-at-home moms. They are passionate about their families. They are spirited, caring and selfless. They are just like you.

Requirements for Becoming a Surrogate

California residents who would like to apply to become surrogate mothers must:

  • Have delivered a child of their own and are currently parenting at least one child.
  • Have had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries, as documented by medical records.
  • Be between 21- and 41-years-old · Typically have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 32. Calculate My BMI.
  • Be citizens, legal residents or legal immigrants 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.
  • 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.

There are additional requirements for becoming a surrogate that also apply to most states.

Benefits of Being a Surrogate in California

High surrogate pay is just one of the reasons becoming a surrogate mother in California is so appealing. Women who wish to become a surrogate mother in San Francisco and other cities and towns across California, enjoy surrogate benefits such as:

  • Location, location, location! Surrogates who live in California are in close proximity to some of the country's best fertility clinics with whom Circle Surrogacy has established relationships. In some instances, you may be working with intended parents using these clinics, which would reduce the amount of travel you would have to do.
  • Gain an incredible sense of self-fulfillment from giving the greatest gift humanly possible to another family
  • Build a life-long relationship with forever-grateful intended parents
  • Work with a personal Program Coordination Team and licensed social worker
  • Opportunity to work with local and international intended parents

And, as mentioned, California surrogate mothers receive generous compensation with a customized benefits package.

The Circle Surrogate Promise

The Circle Surrogate Promise was created for surrogates because we truly care about our carriers, and we want each of them to have the most successful and rewarding journey possible.

In the past, our carriers shared thoughts and improvements with their social workers, or during their exit interviews, and we took all of those conversations and suggestions to heart and improved on our offerings to our gestational carriers.

Guaranteed Pay, Security and Support

The Circle Surrogate Promise is a program exclusive to Circle Surrogates; no other agency can offer the same level of security and support.

Circle Surrogacy promises:

  1. Guaranteed Compensation. Circle Surrogacy financially backs their Intended Parents, so a surrogate’s escrow account is always funded to ensure she is always paid in full and on time.
  2. No medical bill liability. Circle Surrogacy takes on the liability of medical bills. We listened to our past surrogates and their frustrations with medical bills and we’ve made big changes. While we can never stop having you receive medical bills (since you are the “patient”), our new Fixed Cost programs for Intended Parents allow us to protect both the surrogates and the intended parents, and ensure all medical bills will be paid in a timely manner.
  3. $5,000 compensation, even if you leave the program. If you are accepted into our surrogate program and you are medically cleared and matched with intended parents – but you don’t achieve a pregnancy – we will compensate you for your time, energy and dedication thus far in your journey (up to $5,000 total).
  4. Empowerment in birth choices. Not every gestational carrier has the same desires when it comes to the birth of their surro baby. At Circle, our surrogates have choices for her preferred birth options, such as doula care, a hospital birth, or using a birth center with a midwife.
  5. Personalized, small agency feel, with the resources of a large agency. The first person you speak with at Circle will likely be an experienced carrier who guides you through the process until you are matched with intended parents, personally introducing you to your dedicated social worker and journey support team, all of whom are in house at Circle. You’ll always be supported by a Circle employee, who knows all the details about you and your journey (you’ll never have to worry about working with a third party who doesn’t even know your name!) Plus, with our expanded team, we are able to offer support groups, virtual events, one-on-one surrogate mentorship and more.
 how much does surrogacy cost

Surrogate Compensation in California

Gestational surrogates are paid for carrying a baby for someone. This compensation is often called a "surrogate base compensation" or "surrogate payment". At Circle Surrogacy, base compensation for a surrogate in California can range from $40,000-$45,000, depending on where the surrogate lives and whether or not the surrogate has insurance. As a surrogate, you will be paid your base compensation plus additional payments for milestones along your journey.

Total compensation package for a surrogate from California can be up to $60,000-$65,000+.

How does surrogate pay work?

Your surrogate compensation is paid to you throughout the duration of your surrogacy journey. In fact, you will receive payments before you are even pregnant.

Surrogate pay includes the following:

  • Base compensation. This depends on whether or not you have health insurance, if you're a first-time surrogate, and the state where you will be a surrogate.
  • Payments before you are pregnant. You will be compensated early in your journey for completing tasks and milestones. These payments are in addition to your base compensation.
  • Payments during and after pregnancy. Surrogate mothers also receive financial support for necessities during the pregnancy, such as maternity clothing, housekeeping, for pumping and shipping breast milk, and more.
  • Additional benefits. Surrogates will also receive benefits that, while not monetary payments, are priceless in ensuring you're protected, and you have a smooth journey. These benefits include social work support, legal counsel, life insurance, and more.

Your base compensation is paid monthly in nine installments beginning with the confirmation of heartbeat, which occurs around 6 weeks gestation. However, you will receive compensation in the time leading up to that for transfers as well as the medical screening and signing your contract.

How Circle Supports Surrogates

As the world leader in this field, Circle brings 25 years of experience and passion to surrogacy in California. Our team supports you every step of the way—from the day you begin exploring surrogacy to your meeting with the prospective parents, and throughout your entire pregnancy to birth. We’ll help you navigate the screening process, ensure you match with the perfect intended parent or parents, and guide you through the legal and social work aspects of surrogate parenting.

The Circle team is deeply passionate about our work, and many of us are experienced surrogates ourselves. (Some have completed 3 journeys!) That means we’re not just bringing you world-class expertise in the myriad legal, social, and medical aspects of your surrogacy process. We’re delivering hands-on guidance that’s informed by our experience. Our team is ready to answer any question you can dream of (and then some).

We can also connect you with skilled, trustworthy experts. For example, when it’s time for you to review legal contracts, we’ll recommend an attorney local to you with whom we’ve worked with previously, and who has a strong working knowledge of Assisted Reproduction Technology law. It’s just one more way we can clear the path for you and make the entire surrogacy program as seamless as possible. Read our blog post about the 10 steps to becoming to a surrogate.

 Intended Parents with their hands on their surrogate's belly

Finding a Perfect Intended Parent Match

For many California surrogacy candidates, the question of who you help is crucial. After all, you and the prospective parents are going to join together on an incredible and intimate journey. You want to be sure that you connect with and trust them fully. That’s why Circle Surrogacy built an extensive and thorough matching process.

To get you started, your Surrogate Support Team will try to find the perfect intended parent(s) for you, based on personality fit and legal circumstances. You’ll get to review each other’s profiles, ask questions, and generally feel each other out. There will also be an initial Skype call, and possibly an in-person meeting. It’s all about making sure both you and the intended parent(s) feel completely comfortable with the match. And of course, the surrogacy agreement only moves forward if you do.

Circle works with single parents, LGBTQ+ and heterosexual couples, domestic and international couples, and more. We’re confident you’ll be able to find a great match.

Getting Started

Whether you are intended parents or interested in becoming a surrogate or egg donor, the surrogacy process can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. Learning more about surrogacy is the first step of your journey.