Become a Gay Dad

5 Common Questions About Surrogacy in the United States

These five questions and answers should get most gay men started on their journey to fatherhood through surrogacy. At times, surrogacy with egg donation can seem to have too many obstacles, to be too complicated, or to require too much work, but the rewards of a successful surrogacy are immeasurable!

As both a gay dad with kids who has gone through the process myself and the medical director of a large in vitro fertilization (IVF) program in Connecticut, I have counseled hundreds of patients on the best way to navigate this process.  The many steps can seem overwhelming, but it is important to note that using an egg donor and a gestational carrier has the highest pregnancy rates in any in vitro fertilization program’s practice. This is because we are maximizing the opportunity to achieve pregnancy by using healthy sperm, a young and healthy egg donor, and a woman as the carrier who has successfully delivered children in the past.

I decided to write my first blog for Gays With Kids to encourage gay men to get started in the process of bringing little people into their home.  Obviously the first step is to decide that you want to be a parent. The next step is to decide what questions to ask and where to start.

Gay dads-to-be can start the surrogacy process either with an in vitro fertilization clinic or with a surrogacy agency.  Both of these are necessary to move forward. Roughly half of my consultations are with couples starting the process without an agency; however, getting a head start by seeking and contracting with a surrogacy agency can shave time off of your family building journey.  It all depends on how much information you need before you feel comfortable taking the next step.

Below are the five most common questions that clients ask.

  1. What is the typical timeline to achieve a pregnancy?

From the time of initial consultation with the clinic or the surrogacy agency it takes about 6-12 months to achieve pregnancy.  There are multiple factors involved, including personal, medical, and financial issues. If after your initial consultation you decide to sign on with the surrogacy agency, the agency will ask for a deposit to begin the search for a carrier.

A surrogate is a woman who agrees to help another individual or couple have a baby by achieving a pregnancy using her own egg and carrying a pregnancy to term.  A gestational carrier is a woman who performs the same service using an embryo created with another woman’s egg.  As a result, a surrogate has a biological link to the baby, but a gestational carrier does not.

Every experience with an egg donor and gestational carrier (or surrogate) is unique, including the timeline. Gay couples need to select an egg donor and a gestational carrier (or a surrogate). Finding an egg donor typically takes 2-6 months, depending on the donor source (e.g., donor egg agency, known donor) and your chosen donor availability.  Finding a gestational carrier or surrogate typically takes 6–12 months, and includes interviewing the woman, her spouse or partner, medical screening, psychological screening and agreeing on a contract.

It is the responsibility of the agency to find the gestational carrier or surrogate and perform the non-medical screening.  (There are some agencies that perform the psychological screening, but most do not.)  It is the responsibility of the IVF center to perform the medical screening and the psychological screening (unless already performed by the agency). The timeline is extended if the egg donor or gestational carrier does not successfully pass the screening requirements.

  1. How are egg donors, gestational carriers and surrogates screened?

Reputable fertility practices follow the guidelines from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) with oversight from the (American) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The egg donation process starts when a young woman connects with a clinic that provides egg donation services. During the initial screening, the donor completes a thorough questionnaire cataloging her family history, personal medical history, and some of her personal achievements and lifestyle choices. It is likely that she will be asked the question why she would like to be an egg donor.

Once this initial screening is complete and the clinic or egg donor agency is comfortable with the answers about her medical, family, and social history, the potential egg donor is invited to the clinic. She is then screened for infectious diseases, genetic conditions, and gynecologic health. In addition, she completes psychological screening by a mental health professional to assess whether this is a good choice for the young woman and to rule out any mental health issues. When the medical, genetic, and mental health screenings are in order, the donor is considered part of the donor egg recipient pool. The donor is then available for matching with intended parents.  Intended fathers will choose an egg donor in part by characteristics such as ethnicity, education and physical attributes.

Gestational carriers and surrogates are women between the ages of 21 and 40 (or, depending on the clinic, 42) who have had healthy pregnancies without preterm labor, pregnancy-related diabetes or other complications of pregnancy, and who have delivered healthy children. Carriers must go through a process that reviews their physical and mental health; they are screened for gynecologic health related to their uterus and for infectious diseases. Psychological counseling is completed in order to make sure they understand the process and the implications of their decision. Prior to signing, a background check and a home study may be recommended or required.

The agency will also make sure that gestational carrier and surrogate candidates will deliver in a state deemed safe to deliver in; insurance issues will also be discussed.

  1. What are the costs of working with a gestational carrier or surrogate?

The costs of working with a gestational carrier or surrogate include many variables: (a) agency fees for finding and screening a gestational carrier or surrogate; (b) legal fees for creating the contract; (c) medical costs for the IVF treatment, which vary depending on the carrier’s or surrogate’s insurance; and (d) reimbursement of the gestational carrier or surrogate, typically $15,000-$30,000 depending on where she lives and her own expectations. The total fees for all these services range from $50,000 to $80,000.

At my practice, we assign a financial advisor to help clients determine what the medical costs will be.

Additionally, there are costs for the intended father(s) to travel to be with the gestational carrier for medical appointments and for the birth.

The costs associated with a gestational carrier therefore are her reimbursement, medical screening costs, costs of the agency to find and screen her, mental health screening and completion of contracts.

At my clinic, we have two fixed costs plans in regards to medical expenses that will be reviewed with intended fathers.

  1. Why should I use an agency rather than find a gestational carrier or surrogate on my own?

Many patients ask about looking for a gestational carrier or surrogate on their own in an effort to trim costs. I highly recommend utilizing an agency as they are specialized in finding suitable carriers and streamlining the rigorous screening process. Agencies vet their candidates with thorough initial screenings that weed out all but a fraction (about 10 percent) of the women who apply. Beyond this, agencies have experience finding a personality match with the intended parents.

  1. Should I try to find a gestational carrier or an egg donor first?

Intended parents can search for an egg donor and a gestational carrier simultaneously. Typically it takes less time to find an egg donor and create embryos. Embryos created prior to finding a gestational carrier can be cryopreserved through an advanced technology called vitrification. Once a gestational carrier is found, the best embryo(s) will then be thawed for the transfer into the carrier. If, however, the gestational carrier is found first, the intended father(s) may need to pay to keep her on hold while an egg donor is chosen and embryos are created.

Dr. Mark Leondires is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology as well as reproductive endocrinology and infertility. For two consecutive years, Dr. Leondires has been selected through a peer-review process for "Best Doctors in America," which represents the top five percent of physicians across the country. He is also a Castle Connelly “Top Doctor” for his work in the field of reproductive endocrinology. Dr. Leondires married his husband in 2010; together they have two sons. The combination of his professional and personal experience with surrogacy makes him exceptionally qualified to help gay men become fathers through surrogacy.

Show Comments ()
Surrogacy for Gay Men

Gay Surrogacy in the U.S. for International Dads

Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the process of surrogacy for gay men outside of the United States

Written by Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, who has been helping international gay men become dads for over two decades.

Becoming a gay dad through a surrogacy agency in the U.S. – when you live outside of the United States – can feel overwhelming. You may have questions such as: Why should I come all the way to the US for surrogacy? What do I need to know as an international intended parent? How do I get my baby home?

We spoke with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation who has been working with international gay parents for over two decades. Circle Surrogacy was founded by a gay dad and lawyer, and is the most successful surrogacy agency with a full legal team on staff who are experts working with international parents.

Keep reading... Show less
Researching surrogacy but feel like it's all Ancient Greek to you? You're not alone! The surrogacy process is filled with jargon, so we've started this surrogacy glossary of commonly used terms every gay dad should know as he embarks on the surrogacy journey.
Keep reading... Show less
Become a Gay Dad

Jewish Agency to Help Cover the Costs of Surrogacy for Gay Couples

Isaac Herzog, of the Jewish Agency's Chairman of the Executive, has made it a priority to support employees family-planning journeys, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Agency for Israel is about to become first state organization to provide financial assistance to gay employees seeking child surrogacy services overseas. The move is intended to help offset the high costs associated with conducting surrogacy abroad.

The move to do so was led by Isaac Herzog, the Jewish Agency's Chairman of the Executive, who has made it a priority to support employees family-planning journeys, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The decision will apply to the agency's roughly 1,250 employees. The loans can be used to help cover the costs of necessary medical procedures before surrogacy, and for the process of surrogacy itself, the article notes.

Last year, in a controversial move, the Israeli government expanded the ability of single women to access surrogacy services in the country, but excluded single men and gay couples from the policy.

Herzog said the following in announcing the new initiative:

"We are also making a symbolic statement, because it reflects the egalitarian stance of a large organization that is recognizing the right of every man or woman to actualize their wish to be parents and to raise a family, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The Jewish Agency is one big family, and all its members are equal."

Gay Dad Family Stories

One Single Gay Dad's Trailblazing Path to Parenthood Via Surrogacy

20 years ago, Gene became the first single gay man to work with Circle Surrogacy in order to become a dad — trailblazing a path for many others since.

This article is part of our family feature series with Circle Surrogacy, a surrogacy agency that has been helping LGBTQ+ singles and couples realize their dream of parenthood for the past 20 years.

"I think I was pretty naïve, I guess," chuckled Gene, one of the first single gay dads to work with Circle Surrogacy over 19 years ago. "I just had made a decision and went out and did it, and wasn't really thinking about how difficult it might be or what other people thought, being first at doing something."

So how did Gene hear about surrogacy as an option for single gay men? Well, it began with Gene flipping through a bar magazine. He recalls seeing an ad about a woman providing a service to connect gay men with lesbians in platonic co-parenting relationships. While he started down that path, working with the founder, Jennifer, he remembers thinking, "What if I meet someone? What if I want to move? It would create all these complications."

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Life

Karamo Brown Co-Writes Children's Book with Son, Jason

The 'Queer Eye' star and his son named the story on a family mantra: You are Perfectly Designed

When his sons, Jason and Chris, were young, "Queer Eye" Star Karamo Brown repeated the same saying to them: "You are perfectly designed."

That mantra is now a Children's Book, cowritten by Karamo and his 22-year-old son, Jason, who used to come how and "say things like, 'I don't want to be me, I wish I was someone else, I wish I had a different life." As a parent, that "broke my heart," Karamo told Yahoo! Lifestyle. "I would say to him, 'You are blessed and you are perfect just the way you are,' as a reminder that you have been given so much and you should be appreciative and know that you're enough — I know that the world will try to tear you down, but if you can say to yourself, 'I am perfectly designed,' maybe it can quiet out some of those negative messages."

The illustrations, by Anoosha Syed, also make a point of displaying families of a variety of races and sexual orientations throughout the book.

Read more about Karamo's fascinating path to becoming a gay dad here, and then check out the video below that delves deeper into the inspiration behind "You Are Perfectly Designed," available on Amazon.

Change the World

"Dadvocates" Gather in D.C. to Demand Paid Family Leave for ALL Parents

"Dadvocate" and new gay dad Rudy Segovia joined others in D.C. recently to educate lawmakers on the need for paid family leave for ALL parents

On Tuesday October 22, Dove Men+Care and PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) led the Dads' Day of Action on Capitol Hill. A group of over 40 dads and "dadvocates" from across the states lobbied key member of Congress on the issue of paid paternity leave for *ALL* dads. They shared stories of their struggles to take time off when welcoming new family members and the challenges dads face with no paid paternity leave.

Keep reading... Show less
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Falling for Fall: 33 Photos of Gay Dads and Kids at the Pumpkin Patch

Oh my gourd, it's fall! To celebrate, we rounded up 33 pics (and whole lot of pun-kins) in our annual fall photo essay!

Don your checked shirt, grab them apples, and shine those smiles while perched on pumpkins — it's the annual fall family photo op! A trip to the pumpkin patch and / or apple orchard is a staple family fall outing, and we're here for it. 🎃🍎🍂👨👨👧👦

Thanks to these dads who shared their pics with us! Share your own to and we'll add them to this post!

Keep reading... Show less

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse