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Surrogacy Questions Asked by Gay Men, Answered by an Expert

We asked for your biggest questions regarding the surrogacy process, and then turned to Kirstin Marsoli and her team at Circle Surrogacy for the answers... Check them out below!

Once you decide to grow your family through surrogacy, the key to a successful surrogacy journey is to do your research, and get all of your questions answered.

That's why Gays with Kids reached out to you – their community – and asked you what questions you'd like answered about surrogacy. They turned to Circle Surrogacy, leaders in helping others build families through surrogacy and egg donation, for answers to your most burning questions.


1. Why is surrogacy so expensive? 

We hear this question often. Surrogacy can be a complicated process which requires specialists in the legal, medical, social work and insurance fields. The cost of those services, combined with the fees paid to a surrogate and egg donor, make surrogacy a very safe and secure – but also expensive – option to grow your family. Circle offers a Fixed Fee Program, which fixes certain costs for Intended Parents throughout their journey to reduce financial uncertainty and stress.

2. How does one manage paying for surrogacy? Any type of financial tips or aid?

For Intended Parents who need financial support for a surrogacy journey, there are a few options available:

  • Family and friends. Some Intended Parents look to family and friends to help them fund their journeys. Some start crowdsourcing or fundraising pages online for donations.
  • Home Equity. Intended Parents may have the option to refinance their home or take out a home equity line of credit.
  • Loans. Some IPs have the option to take out a loan against their 401k retirement accounts, or take personal loans. Circle offers IPs living in the United States financing options through Prosper HealthCare Lending.
  • Organizations and grants. There are some support groups or organizations that offer discounts or grants, which typically only cover a small percentage of the overall costs.

3. What is the total cost of surrogacy? 

The total costs of surrogacy are different for everyone because they depend on a few factors: where you live, where your surrogate lives, whether or not you have created embryos or need IVF, to name a few.

In order to get the most accurate understanding of how much a surrogacy journey will cost, it's best to look at the individual pieces of the total journey so that you can identify what your expenses will be.

Each agency is different, and the costs and fees (and coverage) varies. Imagine your expenses and costs being broken up into 4 categories: Professional Fees (Agency), Carrier/Egg Donor Fees, Insurance Costs and IVF Costs.

Here are estimated costs for each of the four expense categories list above:

Professional Fees (Agency): $36,500-$46,000
Carrier/Egg Donor Fees: $61,500-$75,000
Insurance Costs: $15,000-$26,000
IVF Costs: $20,000-$45,000


You can get detailed cost information in this post about surrogacy costs.

4. Do surrogates pump breast milk for the baby?

The pumping of breast milk by a surrogate for her intended parents is something that is discussed – and decided upon – by both parties. Many surrogates do go on to pump breast milk for the babies and ship it to the parents – even internationally – for a duration of time that works for both the surrogate and the parents. Surrogates are paid for pumping their breast milk, as well as for the supplies necessary to ship it safely and securely. It is not, however, mandatory that surrogates pump breast milk for her parents.

5. How do you handle the emotional issues the surrogate might have postpartum?

The post partum surrogacy experience after a surrogate delivers can be quite varied in terms of how a surrogate might feel and respond to the situation. In almost all circumstances, the delivery itself is usually a joyous occasion for all parties involved and a time of pure happiness as the surrogate fulfills the mission that she set out to do from the beginning of her journey, and the intended parents achieve their dream of parenthood. Once everyone returns home, the surrogate has to adjust to life "post surrogacy."

For many, this is an easy transition, as surrogates usually have a lot going on in their personal lives being mothers themselves, returning back to work, or finding other activities to pursue. Some women may have more complicated feelings in terms of wondering "what's next?", but both are appropriate responses. A key component of a surrogate's adjustment post partum is also figuring out the new dynamic with her intended parents and establishing what the relationship will be like now that the baby is born. At Circle, women are assigned a social worker that continues to provide support to women for two months after they have delivered to address such issues, and help women navigate the post partum period in whatever way is helpful. We also stay in touch with women longer if they feel they need it. We also have a private Facebook page for surrogates in our program and women utilize this for support as well once they have delivered. You can read more about Surrogate post partum from an experienced carrier in this blog post.

6. Do you allow for bonding between the surrogate and the baby?

Surrogates care for their intended parents' baby during the pregnancy, and it's only normal to wonder about the bonding that happens after the baby is born.

Circle is a relationship-based agency, which means we fully support – and promote – a strong, healthy bond between intended parents and surrogates. Surrogates often describe seeing the baby and feeling happy as if their friend had just had a baby. They report feeling very connected to the IPs and baby as a whole family unit rather than to the baby itself. They often use the phrase "belly buds" to describe their relationship to the baby.

Because of this, Circle encourages the IPs and surrogate to spend time together after the birth of the baby, to visit each other in the hospital if the medical circumstances allow, and to include the IPs' and surrogate's families in the celebration (to the extent that everyone feels comfortable). We encourage the IPs to provide an opportunity for the surrogate to hold the baby and to make sure that they have a formal goodbye with each other before they return home. We also encourage having the surrogate's children have a chance to spend a little time with baby and say goodbye, as they have been part of the journey as well.

7. What are the legal elements involved in surrogacy?

There are three legal elements involved in each surrogacy: contracts, establishing parental rights and insurance. The contractual aspects of a surrogacy journey include the contracts between Intended Parents and their surrogate, donor, agency and IVF clinic. The second element is the legal work necessary to establish the parental rights of the Intended Parents and terminate the legal obligations of the surrogate and egg donor. Third, establishing insurance for the surrogate often requires some legal oversight to review the coverages a surrogate may have, and potentially help address issues with using coverage. Circle is a full-service agency, meaning they have a team of lawyers on staff, one of which is dedicated member of intended parents' support team; intended parents do not need to take it upon themselves to seek legal counsel for their journey.

8. Is it possible to do surrogacy in the United States if I live internationally?

100% YES! Many international Intended Parents turn to agencies in the US to help grow their families. Working with an agency that is experienced with international intended parents means you can confident that you will receive the best support and guidance on your journey. At Circle, all of our surrogates are from the United States, so our international intended parents are matched with carriers who lives stateside. We make the process as smooth as possible for you. Read more about surrogacy as international intended parents here.

9. What is the difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy and what do most clinics recommend for gay IPs?

There are two types of surrogacy: traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy.

In a traditional surrogacy, the woman who carries a pregnancy for intended parents also shares a genetic connection to the child or children she carries. Because only the intended father (or a sperm donor) contributes genetic material, the pregnancy can be achieved through artificial insemination (a procedure that allows sperm to be inserted directly into the fallopian tubes, cervix, or the uterus of the woman who will carry the child).

The second type of surrogacy is gestational surrogacy. Since the 1990s, gestational surrogacy has grown to become the more popular type of surrogacy and it is now almost the only type of surrogacy arranged by surrogacy agencies. Gestational surrogacy is when a woman becomes pregnant through IVF (in vitro fertilization) and embryo transfer, and does NOT share a genetic connection to the child she carriers.

You should choose the form of surrogacy with which you're most comfortable, understanding that some agencies, such as Circle Surrogacy, will only practice gestational surrogacy.

10. How are surrogates screened?

When screening a surrogate candidate, we want to ensure that the candidate has the necessary stability in her life and support in order to have a successful journey. The screening is also a great opportunity to provide psychoeducation to women about the responsibilities entailed of a journey to ensure that they feel confident in making such a large commitment. At Circle, we screen candidates in a multi-tiered approach in which we compile data and information from multiple sources (application materials, medical records, background checks) to confirm a candidate's financial, social, emotional and psychological stability. As a culmination of our screening process every candidate in our program, along with their primary support person, is screened by a licensed clinical social worker and completes psychometric screening that is interpreted by a licensed psychologist.

11. How are egg donors screened?

Screening donors before they are matched with parents is vital to ensuring that they receive psychoeducation and are prepared for the donation process and so parents are reviewing and matching with donors who have been pre-screened. Egg donors complete a thorough application as part of the intake process. These applications are reviewed by our intake donor team who works in conjunction with a Reproductive Endocrinologist to review the donor and her family's medical and mental health history. If the donor has completed past donations, those donation records are obtained, reviewed, and approved by an RE as well. Our team completes criminal background checks, social work evaluations, and psychological testing on egg donors as well.

Answered by the following team members at Circle Surrogacy:

Scott Buckley, Attorney and Director of Operations

Solveig Gramann, LICSW, Surrogate Screening and Support Manager

Amanda Caroca, LCSW, Senior Program Manager

Dory Ziperstein, LCSW, MPH, Egg Donation Manager

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

Learn How These Dads Used Social Media to Find Their Surrogate

In the latest "Broadway Husbands" vlog, Bret and Stephen discuss the rather unconventional way in which they found their surrogate: through a Facebook group.

In this, the Broadway Husbands' sixth video, Bret Shuford and Stephen Hanna discuss the rather unprecedented process they went through to find their surrogate. The lucky couple also chat about winning an "Intended Parents" competition, which granted them the free services of a surrogacy agency who is now helping guide them (and their new surrogate!) on their journey.

In the first video below, get caught up to speed with the dads-to-be. Plus: there's bonus footage! Ever wondered about the financial side of their journey? In the second video, Bret and Stephen talk candidly about how they're managing to afford their dream of fatherhood.

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This Guy's "Annoying Phase" Is All Of Us the Day We Become Dads

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It was 3:09am on February 7th when my phone rang. This, in and of itself, was strange as my phone is always on silent. But, for some reason, earlier that night I decided that I needed to change my phone settings to make sure the phone rang just in case our surrogate called. It was a week before our scheduled C-section and our doctor gave us no reason to think we would be welcoming our baby any earlier than the previously scheduled date.

"I think my water broke. No wait, it definitely broke," our surrogate tells me.

"Your water broke?" I replied helpfully. "Should we head to the hospital?"

"Um, yeah. Get in the car and drive. I'll meet you at the hospital."

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A surrogacy journey is like a detailed puzzle, the two most important pieces of which are trust and honesty. Trust and honesty are critical in this process and working with an established, flexible, and reputable agency make this process much less intimidating.

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This Gay Couple Was Inspired to Become Foster Dads Thanks to the Show "The Fosters"

Matthew and Brian say they used to feel like "unicorns" as gay foster dads. They're happy to see more LGBTQ couples take the plunge into the foster system.

Matthew Hamparian and his husband Brian Lawrence have been together for over 18 years and live in Columbus, Ohio. "We had talked about children for a long time," shared Matthew. They were inspired by the show "The Fosters," and watched it regularly as one of the staffers of the show was a friend of Brian's. In one of the episodes, Matthew remembers a conversation between a foster child and the biological child of his foster parents. The foster child asks if he was okay with the fact that he had to share his home with foster siblings. He responds that he is okay with it, because he and his family have enough of everything.

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Terrell and Jarius need your help. Earlier this week they were made aware of an act of discrimination against a male transgender student at Johnson High School in Gainesville, Georgia

"Dex Frier was elected by the student body to run for prom king but is now facing backlash from the school's administration," shared the dads via their Instagram. "The school's Superintendent is forcing Dex to either run as prom queen or not run at all. This is very unjust and does NOT reflect the opinion of the parents nor the students."

Watch their video below:

Dex, 17, who came out identifying as male in his sophomore year, spoke with Gainsville Times about being nominated by the student body. "Frier said he kept his emotions in check while at school, but 'the moment I got home, I immediately started crying. I've never been shown so much support before,' Frier added."

He was later informed by school officials that his name had been withdrawn and he could only run in the prom queen ballot.

Sadly, there have been rival petitions started in support of Dex's nomination being withdrawn, and he's received backlash from those who believe he shouldn't be able to run.

Although Terrell and Jarius do not know Dex personally, they were made aware of what was happening through Jarius co-worker who is a parent at the school. "He's such a brave kid and is standing firm in his beliefs, and we should support him," said Jarius.

These dads are asking all of us to take a minute and sign this petition and share with friends and family, or anyone you think could help.

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Gay Single Dads Defend Andy Cohen's Right to Be on Grindr

After the Internet rushed to judge Andy Cohen for signing onto Grindr a couple of weeks after welcoming his newborn son home, fellow single gay dads rushed to his defense.

Last week, we wrote a post about reports that "What What Happens Live" host Andy Cohen had been "spotted" on gay dating app Grindr several weeks after welcoming a newborn into his home. This has some of his followers on social media all worked up"

"Get off Grindr and start being a dad," said one follower who appeared to think single parents must take a vow of celibacy the minute they start changing diapers. "You're sad, that kid has no chance," said another.

Well, suffice it to say that this judgment from people who are presumably not single gay dads of Andy Cohen certainly struck a nerve with our gay dad audience! We received well over 100 comments on this post on Facebook, the vast majority of them coming to Cohen's defense. We caught up with two fellow single gay dads to find out why the story struck a nerve.

"We don't have to live like monks!"

One of the most liked comments on our piece came from Owen Lonzar, who wrote the following:

"I have always been a good single father to my biological son who came to live with me when he was 7 years old. He is now 25 years old and we are very close. I used Grindr and dated while he lived with me. I never had anyone sleep over and he certainly never saw some man he didn't know hanging around my home. Single parents have to date responsibly and with sensitivity to their child but that doesn't mean they have to live like monks!"

We asked Cohen to elaborate a bit more on why the backlash against Cohen bothered him. He had the sense, he said, that much of the criticism against LGBTQ parents comes from gay men without children. "Gay men without kids have a lot to say," he said. "And all of it is ignorant, because they have no idea what it means to actually be a father." He said he was particularly disappointed in gay critics, given our shared history of discrimination. "You would think with all the prejudice we have faced that gay men would be less judgmental themselves," he said.

"Are we supposed to be celibate?"

Another commenter, Josue Sebastian Dones-Figueroa, who is a divorced father of five, questioned what Cohen's critics would prefer him do. "So what, parents are supposed to become celibate because they have kids?" he asked.

We followed up with Josue to ask him to elaborate a bit more: "The idea that just because he is a dad that he would need to stop being a man," he said, questioning why Cohen should have to put his life hold and stop dating, or having sex, just because he's now a father. "If the child is cared for loved and not neglected what is the problem? Life goes on right?"


Gay Dad Life

Internet Conflicted About Advice Given to Closeted Gay Dad in the Guardian

Ok fellow gay dads: if you were the advice columnist at the Guardian, what would you have said?

Recently, in a post titled "I met my girlfriend's parents – and realized I once slept with her father," a man wrote into the advice column at the Guardian with the following predicament:

"Five years ago, I went through a bi phase and used to sleep around with pretty much everyone that came along, including other men. This changed when I fell in love with my new partner, who is everything to me. I recently met her parents and halfway through lunch realised that I had slept with her father. I was going to propose, but when my partner and her mother were away, he told me to end it with his daughter. I'm obviously in love – shall I just ignore him, or tell my partner?"

Pamela Stephenson, the Guardian's columnist, responded as follows:

"I am not sure you could ever have a comfortable future with your new partner. To tell the truth would be to court disaster: a probable break-up, plus the risk of a permanent rift between father and daughter and father and wife. Hiding the truth would lead to toxic secret-keeping that could be equally destructive in the long run. If this whole family was as open-minded and sexually open as you, it might be possible for you to become part of it. However, the father – your former lover – has made it clear that you will not be welcome. Walk away now, and avoid the massive pain that would otherwise be inflicted on your partner, her family and yourself."

Not all commenters agreed with Stephenson's advice.

"Assuming your girlfriend knows that you were bi until falling in love with her and that you slept with everybody in your path [which she deserved to know up front anyway] then you can give HER the option what to do with this bond, rather than leaving the choice to her dad," said one commenter.

Another said, "Walking away without explaining why would be callous and also allow the father to escape the possible consequences of his actions."

It's worth noting that none of these commenters, nor the columnist, are or will ever be gay dads, whose perspective on this bizarre situation may be uniquely valuable. Many gay dads have become fathers while still in the closet. And even those who became dads after coming out can still sympathize with the detrimental impacts of the closet on our lives and those of our families.

So what say you, gay dads, about this man's predicament?

Fatherhood, the gay way

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