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How to become a surrogate mother and help others

Becoming a surrogate mother changes more lives than those of intended parents – it changes yours, too. If you have any questions, or need help completing your application, please give us a call: 857-302-7588

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Why do women become surrogates?

Women become surrogates for so many reasons! Mostly, it's because they are rockstars who want to help everyone have the same opportunities to have a family.

Hearing directly from experienced surrogates on why they became surrogates – and what their journeys were like – is a great way to understand what it's truly like to be a surrogate.

Hear from 3 surrogates on this special surrogate episode of our podcast talk about their surrogate experiences!

 5 Things To Know About Being a Surrogate

5 Things To Know About Being a Surrogate

There is a lot of information out there about becoming a surrogate, but here are 5 quick things for you to know before you begin!

  1. Surrogates do NOT use their own DNA (eggs) for the babies they carry
  2. Surrogates are paid throughout the entirety of their journey (not at the end) and start before pregnancy
  3. Surrogates have a say in with whom they match; all matches are mutual
  4. Surrogates DO need to give themselves injections as part of the IVF process; most surrogates say these needles are no big deal
  5. Surrogates will have to say goodbye to the baby; they look forward to "giving the baby back" to their intended parents; because they are not genetically related to the baby, surrogates do not feel an "attachment" to the babies they carry

Ready to learn more? Read on!

 Surrogate mother sharing her surrogacy journey

Thinking about being a surrogate? You've come to the right place.

Surrogate mothers are amazing, selfless women who help make parenthood possible!

Becoming a surrogate is a BIG decision! Asking questions and doing your research is a great way to learn about surrogacy, the surrogate mother process, what it takes to be a surrogate and just how rewarding the journey can be.

You'll likely have TONS of questions, such as:
  • Will I share DNA with the baby?
  • What is the best surrogate age?
  • What is surrogate recovery like?
  • Can you be a surrogate if you’re in the military?
  • Are surrogate twins very likely?
  • Can you be a surrogate mother after menopause?
  • Can you be a surrogate while breastfeeding?
  • What if my husband doesn’t want me to be a surrogate?
  • Can you be a surrogate if your tubes are tied?
We answer many of your top questions below. If you have questions you didn't find the answer to, though, just send us an email at: [email protected]

Circle Surrogacy supports women at all stages of their surrogacy discovery: women who are ready to apply now, and women who are weighing the pros and cons of becoming a surrogate mother and maybe want to spend more time speaking with experienced surrogates or Surrogate Advisors.

A great first step is to fill out our surrogate application so you can be connected with our team. Completing the application will allow us to get to know you better – it doesn't mean you are starting a surrogacy journey immediately!

If you're not ready to fill out an application and would like to connect with one of our Surrogate Ambassadors – experienced surrogates who are ready to answer your questions – you can reach them here.

What is a surrogate?

A surrogate mother – also called a gestational carrier or gestational surrogate – is a woman who carries a baby for people (the Intended Parents) who are unable to have a baby on their own. Most surrogate mothers are gestational surrogates, meaning the surrogate mother does not use her own eggs and doesn't share any genetics with the baby.

Circle Surrogacy only works with gestational carriers – women who do not share biology with the baby they are carrying.

Surrogate mothers get paid for carrying someone's baby, and they are protected by a legal contract signed by both the surrogate mother and the Intended Parents.

But most importantly, a surrogate is a giver of hope and happiness to those looking to be parents!

Surrogates are women who have children of their own, have had relatively easy pregnancies and births (they like being pregnant!), and many have completed their own families. Surrogate mothers want to help others have their own families.

What is surrogacy? It's an amazing way to help make intended parents' dreams come true and give others the ultimate gift: a baby!

 Surrogates give hope to others of having their dream families

Surrogates give hope to others of having their dream families

There's nothing quite like bringing a baby into this world. And for intended parents who planned on having a family but are unable to on their own, surrogate moms restore their hope and optimism about parenthood. The delight that our surrogates feel is so special that many return to Circle for second and third surrogacy journeys!

Being a surrogate mother is an extremely intimate experience. To ensure you feel entirely confident and comfortable during your journey, our matching manager shares profiles of intended parents who share the same aspirations as you, and who are good matches for you legally. We've found this to be essential in creating a positive, joyful experience for both parties.

You get careful planning, guidance and support with our surrogate services.

At every stage of your surrogacy journey – from the fertility process to pregnancy, delivery and post-delivery – you'll have the support and guidance of our experienced social workers and program coordinators. Plus, many women who work at Circle are experienced surrogates, who have been in your shoes and can answer any questions.

Who do surrogate mothers help?

Surrogate mothers help intended parents (IPs) who planned on having a family but are unable to do so on their own.

There are two different types of surrogacy: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. At Circle Surrogacy – and most other surrogacy agencies – gestational surrogacy is the type of surrogacy that is done. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic relationship to the baby she carriers.

Women who become surrogates have the opportunity to help intended parents from all ethnicities, locations and sexual orientations. Some intended parents are single, others are coupled or married. Surrogates may be matched with IPs who live in the US or international parents.

The types of intended parents surrogate mothers help are:

1. Heterosexual couples who have struggled with infertility
2. Intended mothers who are unable to carry a child
3. Intended parents who have a genetic defect or health condition they don't want to pass onto the child
4. LGBTQIA+ intended parents who want to have a genetic link to the baby

Some surrogacy agencies give surrogates the chance to express their preferences about the intended parents with whom they wish to match.

Surrogate mother requirements to understand

Women who wish to become surrogate mothers must meet a set of requirements to ensure they are a good fit physically, mentally and emotionally. These requirements are in place to minimize the risk of being a surrogate and to help provide as successful as a journey as possible for the gestational carrier as well as the intended parents. Everyone's goal is a healthy baby, happy intended parents and a proud surrogate!

Health requirements:

• Has had uncomplicated pregnancies and deliveries.
• Is between 21-44 years of age.
• Typically have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of no higher than 33. Calculate My BMI.

Lifestyle requirements:

• Has the support of her family. If married or partnered, the surrogate must have her partner’s support.
• Has delivered a child of her own, and is currently parenting at least one child.
• Is willing to travel for IVF process. Please note, often these trips include overnight stays.
• Does not use illegal drugs, smoke cigarettes, or abuse alcohol.

Legal requirements:

• 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.
• Lives 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.

Circle Surrogacy's surrogate mother requirements take into consideration the guidelines put forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and clinic guidelines. Surrogate applicants will also participate in a screening with a social worker, and complete psychological testing.

Becoming a surrogate mother requires applicants to be emotionally and mentally ready to enter into a surrogacy journey to help ensure the most successful outcome for intended parents.

How much does a surrogate make?

"How much do surrogates make?" This is a popular question among women who are considering being a surrogate. And rightly so! Gestational surrogacy is an emotional and physical journey, and they should be compensated.

Surrogate mother pay can vary, but in general, average surrogate pay can be between $55,000-$65,000. This estimated surrogacy pay includes a surrogate's base fee – which can be between $35,000-$50,000 – as well as the additional compensation and benefits she receives throughout the journey.

A surrogate mother's base fee is determined by a few factors:

1. The state she lives in
2. Whether or not she has health insurance
3. If she's an experienced gestational carrier

Once a base fee is established, a surrogate will then receive compensation and payments both before she's pregnant, as well as throughout the pregnancy.

At Circle Surrogacy, we offer generous surrogacy pay and benefits. Learn more and see how much you could make as a surrogate mother with our surrogate pay calculator.

What is the process to become a surrogate mother?

Becoming a surrogate mother consists of many mini-milestones that lead to the big day: delivery day!

How long does the surrogate process take?

When you apply to become a surrogate, you will likely not be told how long your journey will last. A surrogacy journey for surrogate mothers can take anywhere from 14-20+ months. Your journey begins with your application, but then depends on many factors: how quickly you're matched with intended parents, how well you respond to IVF medications and time for embryo creation and transfer.

What does the surrogate process look like?

Here's a step-by-step guide to the surrogacy process, and a surrogacy timeline to help you see how long it takes to give intended parents the ultimate gift: their baby!

The six key milestones of the surrogacy process are:

Step 1: PreScreening (1-2 weeks)
The first step is to fill out a surrogate application. If your application passes the first set of surrogate requirements, you'll be connected with a Surrogate Prescreening Coordinator. Medical records review and evaluation and background checks also happen during this step.

Step 2: Surrogacy Consultation (1-2 weeks)
During this step you'll have a video call with social worker, and your primary support person/spouse will have a call with the social worker as well.

Step 3: Matching (1 week to 2 months)
This is an exciting step: matching with your intended parents! When a good match is identified, there will be a profile exchange with intended parents, then a video call. If all parties agree, you will officially be matched! Circle Surrogacy has intended parents waiting for the right surrogate match – you could be matched immediately!

Step 4: Medical Screening & Legal Contracts (2-3 months)
You'll attend your Medical screening at the IVF clinic (overnight trip), and you'll start and finalize contract negotiations with your attorney.

Step 5: Monitoring Appointments & Embryo Transfer (3-4 weeks)
Once approved medically, you'll begin your medications. While administering your surrogate medications you'll attend local monitoring appointments to ensure your body is responding properly. When your body is ready you'll attend the Embryo transfer! (3-7 day trip)

Step 6: Pregnancy (9 months+)
This step can feel like the longest of all the steps. You'll go for Beta tests at your local clinic to confirm pregnancy. From there, you'll have an ultrasound at 6-7 weeks for confirmation of heartbeat(s). During the pregnancy you'll attend routine appointments, develop your relationship with your IPs and share updates until the big day arrives: Delivery day!

See the full surrogate mother process in detail.

 Best surrogacy program for surrogates with our exclusive Circle Surrogate Promise.

The Circle Surrogate Promise

The Circle Surrogate Promise was created 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 to enhance the surrogate mother experience. We know you’ll find that there are many benefits of being a surrogate!

More surrogates choose Circle Surrogacy than any other agency

There are many different surrogacy agencies out there, each offering something different to their surrogates.

Circle Surrogacy has the most comprehensive compensation package, and our surrogates will always be protected.

Our surrogates receive the support, programs and security of a large agency, with a small agency feel. That's why more women choose Circle Surrogacy as their surrogate agency.

We're always happy to speak with potential surrogate applicants about what sets Circle apart. Send us an email: [email protected]

Ready to change someone's life?

Start your application

What previous surrogate mothers are saying about their surrogacy journeys.

"I am so happy with how everything unfolded and came together and so thankful to Circle Surrogacy for making this such an enjoyable experience for me as a surrogate. Circle took such care of me through the entire process! I just don't have enough nice things to say."
- Angelina

"My experience with Circle Surrogacy has been nothing but the best since I applied for my first journey almost 2 years ago. The staff are quick with responses, they are very open, honest and helpful to answer any questions I had from start to finish and even after I delivered my surrogate baby, and showed compassion and support every step of the way as well. From being a surrogate I have come in contact with some ladies who have been surrogates through other surrogacy agencies and it seems as though their experience(s) have been less enjoyable than mine because their agency lacked communication or empathy and it made it very difficult for their surrogates. Circle makes sure that their surrogates and intended parents are always in the loop and on the same page, and I couldn't have asked for anything more for my first time being a surrogate!"
- Holly

"Working with Circle Surrogacy was amazing! Their commitment and reliability made it easy to trust them and eager to start a journey. I had a great support system and always felt advocated for. I wasn’t just another surrogate, I was a friend and that meant so much. My coordinator and social worker made me feel important, I couldn’t have asked for more."
- Ashtin

"I can not say enough wonderful things about Circle Surrogacy and their staff! From the moment I applied to be a surrogate (May 2018) to the present day (2 months postpartum of my first journey) everyone that I have been in contact with has been amazing! From the legal aspect, matching with Intended Parents, the medical side of things and the emotional aspect I always had the backing and support needed. The matching team hands down could not have matched my little family with a better couple and we know consider ourselves all family. :) The relationship established is one that will truly last a lifetime. The Circle staff always made the time and effort to check in, show me that as a surrogate I was appreciated and were always quick to respond when needed. I couldn't imagine a smoother journey or experience and am grateful that I chose to go through this agency while making my dreams to be a surrogate a reality!"
- Melinda

Surrogate mother FAQs

As you consider surrogacy, you may have questions along the way. With many experienced surrogates on staff, we've helped women navigate their surrogacy journeys successfully, and have answered almost every question out there!
How much do surrogates make?​

Circle offers the most comprehensive compensation and benefits of any agency. While surrogate compensation varies depending on your insurance, state of residence, and surrogacy experience, Circle works with each and every woman to help customize her benefits to fit her journey and needs.

​What is the difference between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy?

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. We do not arrange traditional surrogacies.

Do I have to use my own eggs to be a surrogate?

No! Circle only works with gestational surrogates, meaning, they have no genetic link to the baby. Intended parents will create embryos with their own biology (or with that of a donor) and the embryo is transferred into your uterus.

​Why should I choose working with an agency versus going independent?

We believe working with an agency is to your advantage as we provide full support and guidance throughout the entire process. All aspects of the surrogacy process are handled by our team, from matching, to screening, to legal work, to social work support. This enables us to handle any challenges that may arise, so that you can focus on your pregnancy, and building a relationship with your intended parents.

​Why should I choose Circle Surrogacy?

Surrogates choose to work with Circle Surrogacy because we are the best surrogacy agency with which to become a surrogate mother! We are a trusted agency with 27+ years experience. We are also a full-service, relationship-based agency. You will work closely with a social worker and Journey Coordination team who will guide and support you throughout your entire journey.

When you apply to become a surrogate with Circle Surrogacy, you'll be connected to one of our experienced surrogates on staff who can answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Circle also offers a community of surrogate mothers who are connected to share their experiences and support one another.

How do I know if I'm ready to become a surrogate?

Your readiness to apply to be a surrogate with be unique to YOU. This blog post can help you decide if you are ready to become a surrogate.

Do I have to pump breastmilk for the baby?

No, surrogates are not required to pump and ship breastmilk to intended parents. However, many surrogates do choose to do this! This is something that is discussed between intended parents and the gestational carrier and the decision is made together.

Can you be surrogate if you’re in the U.S. military?
Surrogacy rules vary between branches of the U.S. military, so it is important to check with yours before beginning the surrogacy screening process. If you are a military wife and interested in becoming a surrogate, you are encouraged to apply.
What if I have my tubes tied; can I still be a surrogate?
Absolutely! Having a tubal ligation does not interfere with becoming a surrogate mother because your eggs will not be used.
What are the risks of being a surrogate mother?
The physical risks and side effects of being a surrogate are the same as with any pregnancy, including morning sickness, weight gain, gestational diabetes, and back pain. In addition, IVF medications can cause temporary side effects such as hot flashes and mood swings. There is also the potential for emotional issues throughout the journey, which is why Circle does careful psychological screening before matching surrogates and provides surrogates ongoing support from licensed social workers.
Can women who’ve already gone through menopause be surrogates?
Women who are over age 44 do not qualify to be surrogates with Circle and most other surrogacy programs.
Why do you have to already have children to be a surrogate?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) is an organization that ensures ethical standards are upheld through the practice and advancement of reproductive medicines. In order to be approved by this organization, Circle must uphold ASRM requirements, one of which is that a woman must have had a successful term pregnancy prior to being a surrogate.
Will I have to use my personal insurance for anything related to prenatal care or delivery?
No. If you do have medical insurance coverage, we'll take a look at the plan to see if it is likely to cover surrogacy. If so, you may be entitled to a higher base fee. But if you don't have insurance, it's not a problem. We'll find a plan that will cover you, and your intended parents will pay any associated costs.