Family Equality Council’s “Family Week” in Provincetown: Meet Us There!

family equality family week
The Family Equality Council hosts its 19th annual “Family Week” from July 26th-August 2nd in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The week-long event hosts family-based talks, exhibits, cookouts, organized games, and other opportunities to bring LGBT families together. You can view a schedule of the planned get-togethers on the events calendar.

Circle Surrogacy is excited to sponsor the Beach Campfire on Tuesday, July 29th, from 5:30-8:30pm. If you are attending Family Week, be sure to stop by Herring Cove Beach and say “hi,” watch performances from the cast of The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told, and enjoy dinner on the beach!

If you are interested in attending any of the Family Week events but have not yet registered, you can sign up at the Family Equality storefront, located at 254 Commercial St. in Provincetown, Monday through Friday.

Download our free guide on gay surrogacy to learn more about family building options. 

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Oklahoma Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down

oklahoma gay marriage Today, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled Oklahoma’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage in a 2-1 ruling. The panel determined that the ban violates an individual’s constitutional rights in the same decision it reached in Utah’s June 25th case. These two cases are the country’s first federal rulings to determine a link between gay marriage and last year’s Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June, 2013.

While the rulings in Oklahoma and Utah are pending appeal, the decisions pave the road for potential Supreme Court rulings that would make them the first cases to appear in higher courts. With the ever-growing number of states that recognize same-sex marriage, the U.S. is making strides toward a national movement. Each victory for marriage equality adds to the previous one, and the momentum is only picking up. It’s an exciting day for Oklahoma and for the country.

Learn more about family building options for gay parents by downloading our free guide on gay surrogacy.

Questions about becoming a parent through gay surrogacy? Contact Bruce Hale.

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc

Spain to Register Surrogacy Births Again

Two weeks ago, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued an historic surrogacy decision, requiring France to recognize the parental relationships and nationality (including all the rights conferred with it) of children born through surrogacy.

gestacion-subrogada While countries have taken different tacks on the legal status of surrogacy, the Court (which has jurisdiction over nearly every country in Europe), ruled that the best interests of the child must be paramount. So it was only a matter of time before countries began adapting their policies in light of the new ruling.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Spanish Ministry of Justice announced that authorities will once again allow the registration of children born through surrogacy abroad.

In 2010, the government established criteria for the inclusion of children born through surrogacy in the Civil Registry. Earlier this winter, however, the country’s Supreme Court overturned that policy, saying that the law on assisted reproductive technology (which makes surrogacy contracts void in Spain) prevents the registration of children born through surrogacy.

Continue reading “Spain to Register Surrogacy Births Again” »

Communicating with Your Surrogate: Suggestions for intended parents

surrogate mother Communication plays a big role in fostering and sustaining a relationship with your surrogate. Therefore, it’s important to determine what’s right for you in terms of how often you are in touch with each other. Some intended parents (IPs) have weekly Skype sessions or phone calls. Others talk less frequently during the journey.

Circle encourages starting voice contact on a weekly basis (in addition to emails, texts, etc.) at the time of match and should be continued throughout the journey. Regardless of how often you and your surrogate talk during the pregnancy, we suggest you increase communication before the birth of your child. During your surrogate’s pregnancy, talk with her and create a plan that deals with the events to come. This ensures that everyone’s expectations are the same come delivery day. To assist, Circle sends a birth plan worksheet to IPs around 20 weeks so they can start talking to their surrogate about their wishes for the delivery and take a tour of the hospital, if possible. More detailed conversations typically occur around the 30-week mark, after the Program Coordinator completes the hospital preparation. Continue reading “Communicating with Your Surrogate: Suggestions for intended parents” »

What is a Surrogate Mother?

what is a surrogate mother
Surrogacy arrangements involve a woman who carries a child to term and intended parents who need help starting a family. Surrogate mothers are not biologically related to the children they bring into the world and do not take on a maternal role after they give birth.

Who are Circle’s Surrogates?

Circle Surrogacy helps intended parents (IPs) create or build a family through gestational surrogacy arrangements. Surrogates in gestational surrogacy arrangements, also known as “gestational carriers,” have no genetic relationship to the child they carry to term.

Women who want to become surrogates at Circle must meet specific requirements in order to be considered. If you are interested in becoming a surrogate, you can find our surrogate requirements in our FAQ section and apply here.

Gestational Surrogates vs. Traditional Surrogates

There are two types of surrogacy: gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. The term “traditional surrogacy” is perhaps a bit misleading, as it is the less common arrangement of the two. As the use of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) increases, gestational surrogacy is becoming more and more popular among families looking to start a family through alternative family building options. To learn more about the differences between gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy arrangements, read our blog post that takes a closer look at the differences between the two. Continue reading “What is a Surrogate Mother?” »

IVF for Surrogacy and Egg Donation: An overview for intended parents

surrogacy-hospital In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the medical procedure behind gestational surrogacy and egg donation. In the process, eggs are removed from an egg donor or from the intended mother and fertilized with sperm in a lab to create embryos. The resulting embryos are grown in laboratory conditions for 3-5 days. In a surrogacy arrangement, these embryos are then implanted into the uterus of a gestational surrogate. In an egg donation arrangement, they are transferred into the intended mother.

Continue reading “IVF for Surrogacy and Egg Donation: An overview for intended parents” »

European Court Reverses French Surrogacy Decision

small__2366525625 Breaking News!
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a breakthrough decision today. The decision made in Mennesson v. France will be overwhelmingly helpful for European intended parents who are currently engaged in the surrogacy process or thinking of doing so in the future.

Today’s decision holds that, by denying the recognition of a parent-child relationship to children born through surrogacy abroad, French authorities undermined the children’s identity within French society and thus violated the children’s Article 8 right (Right to Family Life). The Court held that the Mennesson’s twins’ rights to respect their private life had been infringed as everyone should be able to establish the essence of his or her identity, including parentage.

Continue reading “European Court Reverses French Surrogacy Decision” »

What Father’s Day Means to Me

father's day 2014

The staff at Circle works hard year-round to make dreams of parenthood possible for so many. And every Father’s Day, it becomes more apparent to us why we do what we do. That is why a few of us wanted to share what Father’s Day personally means to us. 

Father’s Day is a day to appreciate what I have with my children, to look back with a new respect upon how much my father meant to me growing up (and still does today), and to anticipate the endless possibilities for my kids. Being a father changes everything. Knowing that I am responsible for the lives of others creates both a fear of making mistakes and at the same time an excitement about the future that I did not have before having children. The greatest joy of working with Circle is knowing that I can in some small way help others to become parents and open these same doors others.
-Scott B., Director of Operations

Celebrating Father’s Day has always been about a day of appreciation for my amazing father, who guided me during my childhood and helped me navigate the tempestuous teenage years. But since working at Circle, my perspective on the holiday has changed, taking on a greater meaning. Learning about the processes of surrogacy and egg donation, and the trust people put in us, has opened my eyes to another world. It’s a world where love, support, and dreams (and sometimes tears) collide in the hopes of having a child. The men who become fathers in our program are some of the proudest daddies I’ve ever seen. They do not take their roles for granted. They are engaged and loving. They are thankful. And, they are inspirational to me.
-Kayla Mossien, Communications Coordinator 

Father’s Day is a holiday to show love and respect the men in your life. Whether they are your father, grandfather, uncle, brother, friend, mentor, role model, etc., it is about acknowledging those special guys for all they do. To be able to work at Circle and help men fulfill their dreams of becoming fathers is truly an honor and a privilege. Wishing those fathers and those who are soon-to-be fathers a wonderful day!
Jen R., Outreach Coordinator

I grew up in a time when I thought as a gay person, I would never be a parent. So Father’s Day is particularly poignant to me. I wake up and argue with my husband who gets to stay in bed all day. Who gets breakfast in bed (our kids are 18 months and 4 years… neither of whom are particularly good with frying pans and gas hobs…yet)! For me the focus is on family that day. It’s all about us as a family unit and as dads to arguably the two most gorgeous children in the world. It’s about appreciating what we have and how we got to be here. More important, it’s about love. Love for our children who we thought were impossible once… not so long ago.
-Brett Griffin-Young, U.K. Representative

The joy of celebrating fatherhood is just around the corner. Happy Father’s Day to the fabulous dads out there as well as to the soon-to-be fathers in our program. We can’t wait to see the joy on your faces when Dad becomes your new lifelong title! Seeing the joy on a man’s face when he officially becomes a Dad never gets old.
-Nancy W., Client Development

Being a parent, especially a father, is the best thing in the world. That first little smile looking up at you, the first little giggle when you kiss their belly, that first word or their first crawl just melts your heart. There is nothing more beautiful then these precious moments between a child and a dad.  I love the fact that I get to help someone else experience these precious moments. 

For me, Father’s Day has a very special meaning. It’s a day dedicated to my dad (and dad-in-law) and my husband to show how much they are loved and appreciated and how lucky my kids and I are to have them in our lives. Life is taken for granted so often… Father’s Day helps you realize the importance of a loved one that is a dad. Happy Father’s Day! 
-Jenn S., Executive Assistant/Events and Marketing Coordinator

We’d love to hear what Father’s Day means to you! To share your thoughts on the honorable day, email or post on Facebook.

Surrogacy in the Media: Will Grey’s Anatomy have a surrogacy story line next season?

surrogacy on grey's anatomy I have been a devout Grey’s Anatomy fan since its start. And while the show has since grown a little tired, some of my favorite characters have left, and I can’t get through an episode without intense anxiety, I still tune in each week to see what happens!

This year’s season’s finale was not to disappoint, as a possible terrorist attack on a local mall floods Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital with crisis. Luckily, they found out it was just a gas leak. But never the less, the ER was swamped.

Continue reading “Surrogacy in the Media: Will Grey’s Anatomy have a surrogacy story line next season?” »

Surrogacy Insurance: Understanding US Health Insurance

Health insurance in the United States, unlike in many European countries, is largely administered by private companies. Exceptions include Medicare, a government-run insurance program for those aged 65 and older; and Medicaid, which provides health insurance for those with lower income levels.

surrogacy-insurance Because of the variability in plans and payment structures, U.S. health insurance can cause confusion for those who aren’t familiar with how it works. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the American system, don’t worry! We’re breaking it down here to make it easier to understand.

We’ll talk elsewhere about insurance plans available through Lloyd’s of London, that are specifically designed to cover surrogacy costs. For now, we’re focusing on standard health insurance plans—plans that, in some cases, may cover the cost of maternity and/or newborn expenses.

Getting coverage

Many Americans obtain insurance coverage through a place of work. Employers often pay for at least a portion of the costs of the health insurance as a benefit offered to their employees. Most often, these insurance plans are administered by private insurance companies. Some of the largest insurance providers in the United States include: Unitedhealth, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. But companies can have their own self-funded plans and use an insurance company as a claims administrator, to handle paperwork.

Those who do not have insurance through an employer can often purchase individual insurance plans directly from insurance companies.

Understanding the terms

When you are dealing with U.S. health insurance, you may encounter a number of terms you haven’t heard before. Here we outline and clarify some of the most common ones:

1.  Explanation of Coverage/Benefits Booklet/Outline of Coverage, etc.: This is a document that provides all of the details of an insurance plan/policy.

2.  Premium: A premium is an amount paid each month or each pay period in exchange for insurance coverage. If the plan is through an employer, the employer may pay the entire premium or a portion of it. Typically the premium amount does not change from month to month; however, it might increase once a year.

3.  Deductible: A deductible is a dollar amount in covered medical expenses that must be paid by the insured person before an insurance company will provide coverage for certain services. The amounts paid as premiums generally do not count towards the deductible. Some plans have no deductible so there is no minimum amount of expenses required before insurance coverage begins. Once the deductible has been paid, we often say the deductible has been “met” and the insurance coverage begins. There are often two types of deductibles: individual and family.

Individual Deductible: Once a member reaches his/her individual deductible, the insurance covers a percentage of expenses for any remaining covered procedures or treatments for that member, for the rest of the year.

Family Deductible: A family deductible is typically a higher amount (often at least twice the individual deductible). Once the family reaches this designated amount, the insurance covers expenses (at a designated level) for any covered procedures for any family member for the rest of the year. It might require 2 or more family members to reach their individual deductibles, in order for a family to reach its family deductible.

surrogacy-hospital 4.  Copayment: A copayment is an amount that might be required for some services—most often, office visits to a doctor or hospital stays. Unlike coinsurance, it is not a percentage of expenses, but instead a set amount. Copayments may or may not count as a contribution towards the deductible or out-of-pocket limit (see below).

Example: An insurance plan might establish a $25 copayment for office visits to a member’s doctor, a $35 copayment for office visits to a specialist, and a $500 copayment for each admission to the hospital.

5.  Coinsurance: Once a deductible is met, insurance companies typically pay for the majority of expenses for covered services. But insured members may still be required to pay for a percentage of these medical expenses. Often, insurance companies will cover 70% or more of expenses. Circle does not approve insurance policies with lower than 70% coverage. The remaining percentage, paid by the insured person, is referred to as the coinsurance. Some plans require no coinsurance, and instead pay for 100% of covered services after the deductible.

Example: Let’s continue the example above. If a member undergoes a covered procedure at the beginning of the year that costs $11,000, he/she would be required to pay $1,000 (the deductible) before the insurance company pays anything. The remaining expenses are $10,000. If the coinsurance is 20%, the member would pay an additional $2,000 and the insurance would cover the remaining $8,000. Because the deductible has been met, the member doesn’t have to pay it again for the remainder of the year term. (Keep in mind, some insurance plans follow the calendar year and begin on Jan. 1, while others may begin at a different designated date.)

6.  In-Network/Out-of-Network: Insurance companies are often able to obtain better rates with some medical providers. For this reason, the level of insurance coverage for certain hospitals or doctors may be higher than for others. Those providers or hospitals with the higher levels of coverage are considered in-network while those with lower levels of coverage (if any) are considered out-of-network. An HMO (see below) may not offer the option of working with out-of-network providers.

Example: Continuing our example from above, let’s assume the insurance plan provides 80% coverage for in-network providers and 70% coverage for out-of-network providers. The member would owe $2,000 after the deductible for an $11,000 service if the provider is in-network, but $3,000 after the deductible for a $11,000 service if the provider is out-of-network.

7.  Out-of-Pocket Limit/Maximum: Once a deductible has been met, an individual may begin paying coinsurance on covered services. But insurance companies often establish a maximum amount that a member has to pay. That amount is called the Out-of-Pocket limit or Out-of-Pocket maximum. This amount should include any coinsurance paid, and may or may not include the deductible or copayments. There may be higher out-of-pocket maximums for Out-of-Network providers.

8.  Dependent: An insurance plan has a primary member, but he/she can typically choose to add coverage for certain additional people, such as a spouse and children. Anyone who is not the primary member of a health plan is considered a dependent. Dependents may be required to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to be added to a plan. Newborns may or may not be automatically added to a member’s plan.

Example: Again, let’s continue the example above. An individual pays monthly premiums, and incurs a medical expense of $11,000 at an in-network provider. He pays the $1,000 deductible, and 20% of the remaining $10,000 (that is, $2,000). Now, assume he has an individual out-of-pocket maximum of $3,000 that includes the deductible and coinsurance. Since he has already reached this total (by paying a $1,000 deductible and $2,000 in coinsurance), any remaining covered medical services for the year should be paid by the insurance company at 100%.

9.  Qualifying event: This term typically refers to an event (such as a birth, marriage, or divorce) that the insurance company determines is sufficient in order for the primary member to add or remove dependents or change coverage. Outside of a qualifying event, members generally must wait until an annual enrollment period to make changes.

10.  Exclusions: If an insurance company decides to provide no coverage for certain services, those services or procedures are said to be exclusions. Exclusions must be outlined in a document provided to the insurance plan members. Insurance companies have an obligation to write insurance documents clearly – any ambiguity is construed in favor of the member in the event of a dispute.

11.  COBRA: The acronym COBRA comes from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, a federal law. However, in insurance contexts, it refers to the act of continuing insurance coverage obtained through an employer when the member has left the job that originally provided the insurance. Members may have to pay higher premiums in order to “COBRA” their old insurance and can do so for up to 18 months in most cases.

12.  HMO: A Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) is a type of health insurance plan that limits its members to specific providers and hospitals. Typically, members cannot use out-of-network providers except in emergencies.

13.  PPO: A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) is a type of health insurance plan that allows members to pay less for using certain providers. You pay more to use out-of-network providers.

14.  Limits: Plans may place a specific lifetime or annual dollar limit on benefits. However, these limits have been severely restricted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

15.  Affordable Care Act (ACA)/”Obamacare”: The ACA, is a U.S. law passed in 2010 that made significant changes to the U.S. healthcare system, including creating an “individual mandate” that requires that most Americans have health insurance in place, and health insurance exchanges, where people can compare insurance plans and purchase policies online.

16.  Open enrollment period:  This refers to the window each year during which people may join qualified health insurance plans. Currently the next proposed Open Enrollment Period for policies available on the ACA health insurance exchange is November 15, 2014–February 15, 2015.

Working with an experienced surrogacy agency with a legal team on staff ensures that you can receive guidance on surrogacy insurance issues and have all of your questions answered.

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