Surrogacy for Gay Men

Understanding the Legal Process of Surrogacy for Gay Men

Next up on the Daddy Squared podcast! Yan and Alex talk with a fertility lawyer, Richard Vaughn, about the legal elements of the IVF process

When thinking about having kids via surrogacy, the legal part is just as important as the IVF process itself. Making sure that the agreements with the surrogate and the egg donor are set up properly is a solid base for the whole process itself. And then there are issues like legal guardianship and birth certificates that are also crucial for finishing the process with babies that are completely, legally yours. We turned to Fertility Lawyer and gay dad Richard Vaughn of International Fertility Law Group, to set the record straight about the legal steps that must be taken when having babies through IVF.


If you're going through the surrogacy path, you're going to have more than just the agreement with the egg donor and with the surrogate. "You would typically have an agency, if you're being match with a surrogate or a donor agency, so you may have two agencies or you can find your surrogate and egg donor at the same agency," explains Fertility Lawyer Richard Vaughn. "You will have written agreements with the clinic, these are usually called Informed Consent Documents. In these documents the doctors need your consent before they proceed, so they should, in writing, explain the procedures, the medications, the risks to those things, the benefits, the goal."

"Then you'll have contracts with the donor and with the surrogate, and there's additional legal work that follows after that including guardianship documents and the parental establishment court process."

"The analogy to construction or building a house is quite crystal clear because in buying a house you've got escrow and you've got tons of documents that you're signing, some of them electronically, and you just click, click, click," adds Vaughn. "In many of these situations, at least with the Informed Consent Document at clinics it's a lot of stuff that goes over your head unless someone is explaining it to you."


About Richard Vaughn

Fertility law attorney Rich Vaughn combined his passion for family formation with over 20 years of experience in business and technology law and founded International Fertility Law Group (IFLG), one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focusing on assisted reproductive technology law. Rich is also married to Tommy Woelfel and a father of twins born via surrogacy.

Vaughn first studied reproductive and fertility law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law in the early 1990s. In 1993, Rich began providing litigation, contract, technology, marketing and corporate legal services to individual clients, companies and municipalities in Chicago and Los Angeles. During his own experience of becoming a parent via egg donation and surrogacy, Rich discovered a renewed passion for fertility law and launched IFLG, which focuses exclusively on assisted reproductive technology legal services. Since then he's had the opportunity to help thousands of intended parents from all over the world create families via assisted reproduction.

Episode Credits

Co-Hosts: Yan Dekel, Alex Maghen
Guest: Richard Vaughn, International Fertility Law Group
Music: Hercules & Love Affair, "Leonora" buy here

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Surrogacy for Gay Men

5 Questions for Gay Dads Considering Twins in Their Surrogacy Journey

To twin or not to twin: it's a question every gay dad contemplating surrogacy will have to face at some point.

Gay dads-to-be who are creating embryos for surrogacy have a big decision to make: who will be the bio dad? Some dads would BOTH like to be bio dads, and express an interest in having twins, where one baby is biologically related to each dad. The decision to do a Multiple Embryo Transfer (MET) which would possibly lead to a twin pregnancy is a big one, with much to consider in addition to bringing home two bundles of joy from the hospital.

Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation speaks with gay intended parents every day about the options they have to grow their families, including embarking on a twin journey.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself if you're considering a twin pregnancy:

1. Am I ready for my surrogacy journey to cost more?

With an average singleton surrogacy journey costing anywhere between $110,000 and $120,000 (excluding IVF), intended parents should prepare for additional fees associated with a twin pregnancy. First, your surrogate will be paid additional compensation to carry twins. Second, the maternity expenses are typically twice as high with a twin pregnancy, as high risk OBGYNs are often involved. There can also be risks to the babies with a twin pregnancy. We have found that twins can be born one month early, with roughly half of twins needing to spend time in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). At Circle, we have seen the average cost in the NICU approach $100,000.

2. Have I spoken to my IVF Doctor?

Your IVF clinic is your best resource for understanding what it means to do a multiple embryo transfer and try and for twins. There are some IVF clinics that will allow any IPs that would like to try for twins to transfer 2 embryos, as long as the IPs and surrogate fully understand the risks. However, other clinics will not transfer 2 embryos unless there's a medical reason. You should consult your IVF doctor.

3. Have I discussed twins with my surrogacy agency?

It's important to discuss a twin pregnancy with your agency who will be supporting you and your surrogate throughout your journey. Circle Surrogacy, for example, would support Intended Parents on a twin journey if they make an informed decision to have a twin pregnancy; and Circle would ensure the Intended Parents fully understood the risks associated with transferring two embryos. Considerations include:

  1. A twin pregnancy provides risks to the surrogate and to the babies.
  2. The maternity expenses are typically twice as high with a twin pregnancy, as high risk OBGYNs may be involved.
  3. There are also risks for the children. On average, we find that twins are born one month early, roughly half of twins end up in the NICU and, in our experience, incurring NICU fees.
  4. Matching Intended Parents who want twins may take longer, as many surrogates are either not medically approved to carry twins or are unwilling.
  5. The overall cost of the journey will be greater as complications often occur, most deliveries are via c-section and surrogates often end up on bedrest.

4. Am I ready to care for two babies?

Caring for one baby can feel overwhelming at first, so caring for TWO babies (double the feedings and diapers!) may require additional help and support. You should be prepared to speak to your IVF clinic and agency about your plan for caring for twins once they arrive.

5. Am I open to hearing about doing a 'dual journey' instead of a twin pregnancy?

An option to doing a twin pregnancy is doing what is called a dual journey: when two surrogates are pregnant at the same time with singletons with staggered due dates. Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services at Circle Surrogacy, recommends dual journeys – or sibling journeys – as options to a twin pregnancy: "With a dual journey or sibling journey, there are fewer expenses because there are fewer risks with singleton pregnancies and births. Intended Parents will receive a discount on agency fees for a second journey. Plus, when parents decide to do a sibling journey and work with the same surrogate, their discount is doubled. Essentially, you grow your family with two babies without the risk of a multiples pregnancy."

If you're considering growing your family with twins, the first step is to talk with your IVF clinic, and see what your doctor recommends. From there, speaking with your surrogacy agency will help you understand what a twin pregnancy means for costs and fees, as well as for matching times and surrogate availability. There are a few options to have two bio dads in your family, you just need to find the one that works best for you.

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.
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Surrogacy for Gay Men

What Professionals Will I Work With on a Surrogacy Journey?

There will be LOTS of people involved in your surrogacy journey. Kristin Marsoli of Circle Surrogacy breaks down the team of people you can expect to work with.

A surrogacy journey, while monumental, is also a complex process with multiple milestones, many of which are new territory for intended parents. You will likely form the strongest relationships with your egg donor and surrogate, however there are many other professionals who you'll encounter on your journey who will educate and support you on your way to parenthood.

Here are the types of professionals you can expect to work with on your surrogacy journey working with an agency such as Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation:

Parent Outreach Team

When you start your research on surrogacy and surrogacy agencies, if you contact Circle Surrogacy, your first point of contact will be a member of our Parent Outreach Team. This person solely supports intended parents at the very beginning stages of their journeys, before they've signed on with an agency. The Parent Outreach Team is a wonderful resource to answer questions about the surrogacy process, surrogacy costs, how to choose an agency and more. At Circle, many of our Parent Outreach Associates are also parents through surrogacy, so they can share their experiences and understand exactly what it's like to be in your shoes. When you have your surrogacy consultation, you'll meet with a Parent Outreach Associate and a Lawyer to discuss your personal surrogacy needs and journey. Your Parent Outreach Team will support you through signing on with the agency.

Circle's Parent Outreach Team

Egg Donation Matching Coordinator

It's time to match with the first of two women who will be very important in your journey to parenthood: your egg donor! Selecting an egg donor may come easy to some, but others may take more time determining their perfect match. Our egg donor coordination team will help you find the right egg donor to meet your needs. They will help you navigate the egg donor database and coordinate your egg donor match.

IVF Doctor and Clinic Coordinators

You'll work closely with your IVF clinic professionals, including coordinators and, especially, your doctor. Your IVF doctor will advise you on your IVF journey and embryos, evaluate your egg donor and surrogate to determine they are ready for the process medically, and perform the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Some intended parents come to surrogacy having already identified a clinic, others look for guidance in choosing a clinic that will best suit their needs.

Program Manager and Coordinator

Perhaps the professionals you will work the closest with will be your Program Manager (PM) and Program Coordinator (PC). As your journey support team, your PC and/or PM will be your day-to-day contact during your entire journey, from the moment you sign on with the agency, until the birth of your baby and beyond. Your PC and your PM ensure that you are meeting every milestone, having a smooth journey, and preparing for the arrival of your baby(ies).

Social Workers

Early on in your journey, you'll have an intended parent support call with one of the agency's social workers. During this call, you'll speak with the social worker about your upcoming journey, setting up expectations, talk about matching preferences and more. Social workers are also available to intended parents throughout their journey should they have a bump in the road, or if they need help navigating and talking through a situation.

L-R Alicia Abdella, Manager of Intended Parent Support and Social Worker, Jessica McCaffrey, Intended Parent Attorney and Scott Buckley, VP of Client Services

Lawyers (both at Circle and local attorneys)

During the surrogacy process you will work with a lawyer for the following milestones:

  • Drafting, negotiating and finalizing your surrogacy contracts
  • Establishing your parental rights
  • Safely returning home

Intended parents will be assigned a Circle attorney who will be part of the Coordination team. Parents can also expect to work with local counsel – lawyers who work out of the state from which their gestational carrier resides. Local counsel will help with establishing parental rights.

Surrogate Matching Team

A key milestone during your surrogacy journey is matching with your gestational carrier. At Circle, the Matching Manager – who is also a lawyer – presents intended parents with the profile of a gestational carrier whom she believes will be a great match. The match is based on a few criteria: legal fit, personality fit, geographic location and views on surrogacy. The Matching Team will help coordinate your first call with your potential surrogate, and work with you to find the most suitable match.

Trust Accountant Team

Each surrogacy operates a little differently; however if you work with a full-service agency such as Circle Surrogacy, a Trust Accountant will manage any outgoing payments to surrogates, egg donors and third parties. Upon matching, trust accountants keep intended parents informed of the monies needed to fund all expected expenses up until 6 months post delivery. They can also answer any financial questions intended parents may have.

Medical Billing Team

Intended parents will interact with the Medical Billing Team when they are matched with their gestational carrier. The team determines what intended parents can expect to pay for medical expenses from local monitoring, pregnancy and delivery, based on their specific case. The Medical Billing Team also reviews each medical bill from monitoring, physicians and the hospital prior to payment to ensure accuracy, and advocate for intended parents should medical facilities need to be called for any discrepancies.

Gestational Carrier's OBGYN

Around the 10th week of pregnancy, the IVF clinic will discharge your surrogate from their care and she will start seeing her OBGYN. Your surrogate will select her OBGYN that is local to her, and usually the same doctor she saw for her own pregnancies. Many intended parents attend the 20-week ultrasound with their surrogate, at which time they meet the OBGYN in person (in some cases, IPs have been "attended" ultrasound appointments via video on their surrogate's phone!).

The entire team at Circle

Hospital Staff

Your baby will be delivered at a hospital in your gestational carrier's home state; many times, it's the hospital where she delivered her own children. Circle recommends touring the Labor & Delivery section of your surrogate's hospital to help familiarize yourself with its staff and layout in advance. Many intended parents combine their visit for the 20-week ultrasound and the hospital tour. Touring the hospital with your surrogate enables you both to ask questions of the hospital staff and prepare for baby's delivery.

Embassy personnel (international intended parents)

International parents will work with their agency's legal team as well as local counsel to ensure they can return home safely. Some intended parents will need to travel to the embassy to secure travel documents for their baby(ies).

There are so many experienced professionals involved in a surrogacy and egg donation journey. It's important to understand with whom you'll be working throughout each milestone. While every agency operates differently – and an independent surrogacy journey will involve fewer agency professionals – these are the professionals intended parents can expect to work with on a journey with Circle Surrogacy. And because Circle is a full-service agency, many of the professionals mentioned above – outside of IVF clinics, local attorneys, hospital and embassy personnel – are all under one roof, making the management of your journey smooth and secure.

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Help us congratulate gay dads on their recent births and adoptions last month!

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When we first met, I was completing my graduate studies in social work and subsequently started a career working in foster care and adoption. This made our decision to pursue foster care-adoption as our path to parenthood a fairly easy one. In fact, I can't recall us discussing other avenues to parenthood, but I'm sure we briefly discussed them before solidifying our decision to become foster parents.

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On Saturday, October 5, 2019, Philadelphia Family Pride will hold their 10th Annual Family Matters Conference from 9am to 3:30pm for LGBTQ parents, prospective parents and their kids of all ages at the University of the Sciences in West Philadelphia. The theme this year is "Telling Our Stories." Registration is now open!

In an interactive keynote, Anndee Hochman, author of the Philadelphia Inquirer's weekly "Parent Trip" column, will share highlights from her work as a journalist and memoirist. She'll invite conversation about the stories that shape us—what tales do we share? who does the telling? who is left out?—and how those stories, added up, are changing the world. Read her bio.

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Fatherhood, the gay way

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