The Family Circle

Episode 9: Surrogacy 101

October 17, 2022 Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation Season 1 Episode 9
The Family Circle
Episode 9: Surrogacy 101
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This month Kristin and Lauren go back to the basics and hosted a Surrogacy 101 episode. This episode outlines the basics of surrogacy that you've always wanted to know.

They discuss third party reproduction acronyms, why women pursue surrogacy and egg donation, what it means to be an intended parent, and so much more. If you're new to surrogacy, this is the perfect episode for you! 

In the episode we mention a number of links for those interested in learning more.

If you're looking to become a surrogate, you can find more information about requirements here:

If you're interested in learning more about egg donation, you can read about the process and experience here:

In the episode, both the Progyny and Egg Donor Panel episode of the podcasts are mentioned.
Progyny -
Egg Donor Panel -

Lauren provides an overview of the most frequent surrogacy and egg donation acronyms, but we've got a much more extensive list in a blog post that you can find here:

Don't forget to like and subscribe! 

Thank you for listening!

If you'd like to learn more about surrogacy, you can visit our website. If you'd like to chat with one of our team members, please reach out:

We'd love to hear your story and see how we can support you.

Welcome to the Family Circle podcast brought to you by circle surrogacy and egg donation. We are a surrogacy and egg donation agency. And we are so proud that we have helped bring over 2700 babies into the world and we are still counting. We're going to take a little bit of a step back in this episode I think we're going back to basics. We are going to do a surrogacy and egg donation 101 episode, which basically answers all of those first questions someone might have who is considering either being a surrogate or becoming a parent through surrogacy and egg donation. So Lauren is here with me. Hello. And we are going to jump right in because we have a lot of things to go over today. Yes, we are talking about all things surrogacy and egg donation. So let's start off with the absolute basics. What is surrogacy? This is a great place to start because surrogacy in itself can feel like a very complicated process. So if we break it down at its very definition, surrogacy is the act of a woman carrying a baby for somebody else. So coming out of that brings the next question. What is the difference between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy? So there are two types of surrogacy. The first is gestational surrogacy. This is the process in which the gestational carrier or the surrogate is simply carrying the baby and she has no relation to the baby she's carrying meaning she did not use her own eggs to create the embryo which is transferred into her uterus. Traditional surrogacy is when a surrogate uses her own biology. She uses her own eggs to create the embryo that she ends up carrying. So that's the difference between gestational and traditional surrogacy as an agency circle surrogacy only performs gestational surrogacy where all of our surrogates do not have any relation to the babies that they're carrying for their intended parents. All right, Lauren, just to reiterate it one more time, the basic question that we do still get a lot is, is the surrogate related to the baby's? You know, the very fast and easy answer is no, if she is a circle surrogate, she is not genetically related to the child that she's carrying. So we've talked a little bit about the surrogate, let's get into the intended parents. So what types of people might use surrogacy to grow their families Risdon? So I think first let's start with the term intended parents. That is how we refer to somebody who comes to the agency and is considering surrogacy or egg donation to grow their family. That's how we will refer to them as intended parents. So the types of people who might use surrogacy to grow their families, it really can be almost anybody, right and there are certain situations that present themselves. So the first is heterosexual couples who are struggling with infertility or sort of just facing some challenges getting pregnant or staying pregnant. intended parents who might have a genetic defects are a health condition that they don't want to pass on to the child. They may come to surrogacy. Our LGBTQ plus community will often use surrogacy to grow their families when they're looking to have that biological connection to their child. I think it's important to note that as far as the intended parents that circle works with there should be a medical need when you come to surrogacy with circle. The other type of surrogacy is called Social surrogacy where there is not a medical need present for the surrogacy journey. But that is not the type of surrogacy that we do here. It is truly intended parents who have that medical necessity and that can be defined in a variety of ways. And it's different for everyone. And all of that is discussed on a case by case basis with the parent intake team. So if you're interested in surrogacy that the first team you're connected to and they can talk you through what those intended parent requirements are. So we're going to pop a link to their information in the bio so anyone who might be interested can reach out. Alright, so we talked about who might do surrogacy and can just anybody do surrogacy as an intended parent, but if we flip it to the other side, can anyone just be a surrogate Lauren? Absolutely, no. surrogates are absolutely amazing women And that have to meet a variety of criteria. These criteria are set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, they are in part set by fertility clinics. And of course, agencies will have their own requirements to make sure that they are working with women who are the most likely to be successful and have a wonderful journey, which is always what we're looking for. So a few of the high level requirements for being a surrogate, no matter what agency you work with, if you work anywhere within the United States, your surrogate has to have given birth, she has to have had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy complication free delivery, she must be a nonsmoker. At circle, she must have a BMI of under 32. But above 19, that is a requirement set by many fertility clinics. And there are a variety of other requirements. So we're going to pop the link to our circuit requirement page in the bio as well. So if you're interested, you can check out that page and there's also a link to apply at the bottom if you meet the requirements. And this is something that you're interested in doing. Now to the much less fun part. The legal aspect of surrogacy, Kristin, why are there so many lawyers involved in the surrogacy process? Yeah, so as I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, surrogacy is a complicated process that requires a lot of professionals along the way. So one set of professionals that are part of the surrogacy journey are lawyers, and the intended parents will have their own lawyer guiding them and preparing contracts for them. And their surrogate will actually have her own independent lawyer and same if they need an egg donor, their egg donor will have independent counsel as well. And so why are their lawyers involved? Because lawyers are there to make sure that everybody is legally protected. So we mentioned a contract, there is a contract agreement between intended parents and they're gestational carrier or their surrogate that is reviewed by both sets of lawyers reviewed by parents and surrogates. And until it's in a place that all parties feel comfortable signing. And the same will happen on the egg donation side, there will be a contract between an egg donor and intended parents in the same thing will happen, all parties will be in alignment before that is signed, and before the journey can move forward. So lawyers are a very important part of the process here at Circle, our legal team is actually in house. And that is the legal team for our intended parents. So it gets in donors will have their own legal representation. They are not part of the circle in house team. They are separate entities and separate lawyers. But the legal team is part of intended parents journey from start to finish, they are on your support team. And not only are they helping you prepare your contracts at the beginning of your journey, but they will also be there towards the end of the journey when the birth certificate is being worked on. And they can answer all of those legal questions that you might have of who goes on the birth certificate and what can I expect legally after birth. They are there to support the intended parents and they are super knowledgeable in assisted reproductive technology, especially the lawyers that are on site here at Circle. They can really answer any of your questions. And even at the very beginning before you even sign on with an agency if you have legal questions. Serpo can help with that too. So without getting into specific numbers, because costs of surrogacy journeys, there's a big range depending on what you're looking for, and maybe the agency that you're working with, but generally speaking, Lauren, why is surrogacy expensive?
Well, as Kristen said, there are a number of professionals involved in this process. And at circle we are extremely proud that we have some of the best surrogacy professionals in the business. There are lawyers, there is your journey coordination team. There's a program coordinator, a program manager, there's a team that supports your surrogate emotionally through her journey. You are paying for your surrogate, you're potentially paying for an egg donor. And of course, there are IVF fees that those are not paid directly to the surrogacy agency. Those are paid directly to the fertility clinic. There's also oftentimes travel there's extras that might be involved in surrogate pay depending on how the contract is negotiated. So while it is very expensive, and there are all of these extremely knowledgeable people involved in the process, it is very worth it. We hear every single day. How worth it it is I know Kristin, you've spoken on the podcast before about the cost and how it can be a really tricky situation but you can say from personal experience that It is worth it every single day, Lily. Absolutely it is. And I think something for intended parents to keep in mind when it comes to costs is their surrogate will not be responsible for anything like it does not cost anything to be a surrogate and the surrogate is not paying for anything throughout her journey that is being provided to her by her intended parents. So that also goes into the costs as well. We had an episode over the summer with a company called progeny who works with companies to offer fertility benefits that oftentimes cover having an egg donor, if you're struggling with infertility being able to have IVF meds covered potentially covering adoption or surrogacy. So if the cost of surrogacy is something that is top of mind, it would be a good idea to check with your health insurance and check with your employer see what options are available to you to help get some of that cost covered. We do see that quite a bit here. And more and more companies are offering fertility benefits and coverage for at minimum IVF at most through a surrogacy journey. So Kristen, we've talked about what the IPS do. We've talked about what the surrogate does, what does the agency do for our IPs, our surrogates and our egg donors? For the agency, which we talked about cost? That is what goes into some of those costs for surrogacy is an agency fee, it's called and basically the agency fee is covering all of the management of your journey, including finding you a qualified, perfect surrogate match at circle, the your legal fees as intended parents are covered in your agency fee as well. And you know, what is the management of the journey, right? Like it sounds just so vague, like the management of the journey, surrogacy is a journey, your journey can take anywhere from a couple of years, sometimes depending on how everything is going across the different milestones. And your agency is providing me a team of experts that are supporting you throughout your journey. And that's whether you're an attended parent and egg donor or a surrogate, you will have a core team of people who know everything about you and your journey at any given time. And they are managing all of the logistics. I can tell you as someone who went through a surrogacy journey as an intended parent, it's like a full time job to manage your journey. And it makes sense why there are agencies that do this. There's everything from travel coordination for your surrogate in your donor clinic coordination for not only the appointments when your donor or your surrogate are going for their medical screening, or either for the embryo transfer or the egg retrieval, but also coordinating with the clinics for the local monitoring that has to happen. And local monitoring is basically when a surrogate or donor is in process of getting ready for the egg retrieval, or getting ready for the embryo transfer or right after that embryo transfer. There are local clinics close to the surrogates home or the donors home, that she will visit to continually be monitored to make sure that her body is responding properly to the medications. So there's a lot of coordination that goes into finding those local clinics. And honestly, you cannot put a price tag on the emotional support that you will receive from your agency, they are there to guide you, they're there to hold your hand throughout the entire process. We want picture perfect journeys for everyone. And that is not always the case. Like in traditional pregnancies, sometimes there's bumps in the road. And to have a surrogacy agency by your side when you hit one of those bumps, or something unexpected pops up. And just having that peace of mind knowing that there is somebody there that is going to handle all of that who's going to make those phone calls, who's going to find out the information that's needed and is going to help put a solution in place so that you don't have to stress about that as a parent, surrogate or donor. Honestly, like you cannot put a price tag on that. Just that emotional security that you're going to have working with an agency and circle has been around for over 25 years. Kristin, you've been here for five years, just in the time that we've been together working on this. There are hardly ever things that come up that circle hasn't seen before. So because of that longevity because of that experience, when things do come up, when there are obstacles when things aren't maybe you picture perfect, like we hope that they will be circle is very equipped to handle it. There's usually a plan in place. We've usually crossed that bridge before and are prepared to handle it and remove a lot of that stress from our intended parents, surrogates and egg donors. I think that's one of the benefits of working with a larger agencies. Circle is a larger agency. You have a team of people constantly working with you Who and by your side. So if somebody's out sick, there's always somebody else there. If somebody is on vacation, you know, sometimes with a smaller agency, you might have a smaller team, and that person might not be available right away for you. So what's nice about having an agency support you and an agency that is a little larger is you have multiple people who are at your disposal whenever you need them. And they are all up to date on your journey and what's going on, and they can jump right in without needing to be brief. All right, let's talk a little bit about egg donor. So we talked a little bit about intended parents and surrogates. So if I'm an egg donor, Lauren, what do I do? What does an egg donor do? So egg donors have a really, really unique part of this process. They go through a tremendous screening process, we care very deeply at circle that we are working with the absolute best egg donors. Women who are passionate about egg donation really want to help grow a family. So an egg donor will come to circle, she will apply, go through the screening process. And once she's approved and matched with intended parents, she has a medical screening. And then she begins medications to stimulate her ovaries so that they can begin to produce more eggs. And after a couple of weeks of being on medications, she will travel to the clinic of her intended parents where she will undergo an egg retrieval. So she is using her own biology, she is having her eggs removed through a very short, very easy procedure. And she then will recover for a day or so and then travel back home after and the clinic will do what they need to do, they will collect the eggs, they will check quality, each clinic is going to be a little bit different with how that process is handled. But the egg donor is pretty much done with her apart after she goes through the egg retrieval and is in her recovery. I think a good way to put it in perspective is a woman will naturally release one egg every month. So what happens with egg donors is because they are taking those medications to sort of stimulate egg production, we are able to then retrieve 1015 20, sometimes more eggs from the egg donor. And what that will do is it'll give intended parents a better chance of success when creating their embryos if they have more eggs to work with. If we only had to work with one egg every month, this could be a very, very long process where we wouldn't see the success that we do. So that's why the stimulation happens with our donors. And it's perfectly safe. And honestly our donors, they'll come back 234 or five times to do egg donations because they just know how important it is. And they're just so connected to the idea that they're helping so many people grow their families. Yeah, I believe in our last episode, we were just speaking with a few of our experienced donors, and Jordan was saying that she is planning to go on to do a six donation, which is pretty incredible. That is amazing. That was such a great if guys haven't listened to that episode. It is such an amazing episode to just hear the peek behind the curtain on what inspires women to becoming donors. It's it was really special.
That was our egg donor panel episode. So we can also drop the link into the bio of this episode to hear stories from live Tia and Jordan sharing about all of their donations. It's very, it's wonderful. We're just dropping links left, right. So link heavy episode. So we know who our donors are. We know what the process is like we know what they do. But we haven't really talked about who would require an egg donor. That's a very wide range of people. And everyone comes to surrogacy and egg donation for different reasons. So who uses an egg donor who requires an egg donor for their journey. When you need an egg donor, it basically means that you do not have the egg portion of the biology to create the embryo. So a variety of people can use an egg donor or require an egg donor. So first and foremost, same sex male couples, or a single male intended parent would require an egg donor in order to create their embryos. And we also have heterosexual couples or even single women who are not able to use their own eggs to create embryos. So they would require an egg donor to get that biology that's needed to create those embryos. So because we're back to basics, and I imagine people at the very beginning of surrogacy, whether they're looking to be a surrogate or be a parent or even be an egg donor when you start to do research, besides the fact that there is a tremendous amount of content out there about With surrogacy and egg donation, you will start to see acronyms pop up. And if you're at the very beginning of a journey or very beginning of the research process, you might be like, Oh my god, this is like another language to me. And I don't understand what anybody is saying. So there are a few acronyms. Lauren, break them down for us, what are some of those key acronyms that you might see that you might be like? What does this mean? So I put together the top acronyms that I had to learn when I started working at circle that I had never seen before and started seeing all the time on my very first day. And googling some of these acronyms doesn't always give you the surrogacy answer for them. As an example, one of our acronyms is E T. That could mean just about anything. If you were to Google, that acronym, wouldn't necessarily be specific to surrogacy, or egg donation. So our top ones, we'll start with the easiest, we have mentioned intended parents several times. But that can be a mouthful. And when you're talking about them all day, every day, it's very easy to want to shorten that word a little bit. So we refer to intended parents as IPs. You'll often see that in blog posts, you'll might see it on our social media channels, you may just hear people talk about it. fertility clinics oftentimes use that term. So when you hear it that refers to an intended parent or intended parent. On the flip side of that, you may also hear GC used quite often, that's going to be more likely on the medical side of things the clinic side, because that's referring to a gestational carrier, meaning it's a gestational surrogacy journey, where the carrier the surrogate does not have a genetic connection to the embryo that is being transferred. So when you see the letters GC, that refers to gestational carrier, meaning she's a surrogate with no genetic connection to the baby. Yeah, I think surrogate is probably the more common term that you'll see, like you said, like GC will probably pop up in your contract. Or when you're talking with the clinic, there is no shortened acronym for surrogate surrogate. But yeah, I think our surrogates will refer to my SEROW baby. So they will refer to themselves that way. But yeah, so GC equals surrogate, yes, they are oftentimes used interchangeably. And then there is art. And you may see this more when searching generally about infertility, because it stands for assisted reproductive technology. So anyone who has struggled with fertility issues of any kind, will likely have heard this phrase before, because it refers to any way to have a child with assistance. So that may be IVF. That might be surrogacy and donation, it's a very wide net of what that could apply to. You might also see a RT RT on our website, because we have many lawyers who specialize in assisted reproductive technology and our VP of legal sits on the American Bar Association's artificial reproductive technology. Chairman, it's so hard we have so many incredible people that work here with so many titles, so many letters after their names, but you will often see that on our website that is simply what that refers to. You may also see the letters are e similar to gestational carrier GC, that is something you're more likely to see on the medical side of things. This is going to be something that you will hear a lot at your clinic. Our E stands for reproductive endocrinologist who is the doctor who will be managing the surrogacy journey on the clinic side, the doctor that is working with your surrogate directly that is doing the embryo transfer, or potentially is doing an egg retrieval from an egg donor. And then we've got an easy one IVF that is becoming more and more common as more people are needing to use IVF to grow their family. IVF stands for in vitro fertilization, meaning that the embryo was created outside of the person carrying so the sperm and the egg are made into an embryo in a lab. And then that embryo is transferred into the woman who will be carrying the child. In surrogacy that would be a surrogate, but heterosexual couples very often have to use IVF to grow their family. And in that case, it would be the mother's biology, the father's biology combined to create an embryo and then that same embryo was transferred back into the woman's uterus. Getting close to the end, we have E T and F E T. So I'm going to group these together because they have a lot of similarities and they may be used interchangeably. ET is referring to embryo transfer. So we were just talking about embryo transfer. or is the egg and sperm created the embryo outside of the surrogate, she does not share any DNA connection with the embryo and it has been transferred into her uterus. We talk a lot about the embryo transfer, it's a very exciting time for both VIPs and the surrogate. It's really when the journey gets going. It's actually one of the times that intended parents and surrogates are together face to face and spending time together because they could live far apart from each other. That's one of those big milestone appointments that they get to come together and sort of share that special moment together. Absolutely. And then Fe T is frozen embryo transfer. So frozen embryo transfer, the type of transfer that we most often do, where the embryos are frozen after they're created in order to give them the best chance at being successful. Our last acronym is E D, which refers to egg donor. The tricky thing about that is it may also refer to egg donation. So if you're checking out our website, we most often refer to egg donors as egg donors, but we may just refer to them as donors. And when referring to egg donation, you might see Ed so that was a short list of acronyms. Those are probably the most popular and it's a great place to start, you'll probably come across a few more if you're doing a really deep dive into the ins and outs of surrogacy and egg donation. So that was our 101. For surrogacy and egg donation, I think it's really important to sometimes take that step back. We work in this day in and day out. So we literally live and breathe surrogacy and egg donation every day, but it's always good to take that step back and remember that not everybody is as versed in the process as we are here at circle. So to really go back to basics and hit what really is surrogacy? What's a surrogate, what's an anchor who are enchanted parents? Those are really, really good topics to start with. For anybody who is beginning that exploration of surrogacy and egg donation. Absolutely. And if you've listened to this, and you thought that it was interesting, but you need more, like we've said, sometimes throughout the episode that we are putting a number of links in the bio where you can find podcast episodes that we've done, blog posts that we've written, we have a blog post that has a huge list of surrogacy acronyms that we'll put in there too. For those of you that are looking for a little bit more information, we have links to pages about egg donation surrogacy becoming a parent through surrogacy Our website is big and mighty and full of excellent information and stories from surrogates and parents and employees who have been through the surrogacy process on every side. So please check out any of those links that might interest you. And feel free to contact our team. If you have any questions or you're interested in learning more, we would be happy to connect you with the right person who can help you through whatever journey it is that you're looking to pursue. But this was fun. I'm so happy we did this episode because I think it's really important to provide that very initial information to get people started. Absolutely. I am Preston, the marketing director here at Circle. Thanks for joining us.
Don't forget to like, subscribe, follow. There's 1000 ways to listen to podcasts and we appreciate every listen. So if you have the chance, please throw us a rating. We'd love to see it. We'd love to hear from you. And we can't wait to talk to you again next month or next time.

Hello & Welcome - Kristin Marsoli
Welcome Host - Lauren Mello
What is Surrogacy?
What is the Difference Between Gestational Surrogacy and Traditional Surrogacy?
Is the Surrogate Genetically Related to the Baby She Carries?
What Types of People Use Surrogacy to Grow Their Family?
Can Just Anyone Become a Surrogate?
Why Are There So Many Lawyers Involved in the Surrogacy Process?
Why is Surrogacy So Expensive?
What Does a Surrogacy Agency Do for Surrogates, Intended Parents, and Egg Donors?
What Does an Egg Donor Do?
Who Requires an Egg Donor to Grow Their Family?
Key Surrogacy Acronyms to Know