Giving Thanks this Turkey Day!

Thanksgiving It’s almost Thanksgiving! The decorations, the music, the food, the holiday spirit—what’s not to love?

Beyond filling my belly with delightful fare and sharing heightened holiday cheer with loved ones, Thanksgiving to me is a time to reflect and (cliché alert) think about what makes me grateful. For me, I’m thankful to work at a company that fulfills so many dreams for so many people as well as for my loving friends and family.

Conjuring up such thoughts got me thinking…what are the people who make up surrogacy grateful for this year? So I asked! And here’s what some of  our surrogates, intended parents, donors, and staffers said.

“I’m thankful for my husband who’s serving overseas and will be home just in time to hold my hand while this surrogate baby is born.”
-Ashlie Hardman, surrogate

“I am thankful for a healthy baby for the wonderful intended parents that I was matched with and the lifetime bond that we have built!”
-Shana Marie Lijoi, surrogate thanksgiving

“I am grateful for my family, especially my supportive, caring, and loving husband, Paul. I am grateful for my son, Ryan, who brings so much joy and happiness to my life and fills my heart with so much love. I am grateful for my 2nd family here at Circle who I spend as much time with and for the work that we do by helping to make dreams come true for parents and intended parents!”
-Nicole Chandler, Circle employee

“I’m thankful for my four healthy Surro baby boys, their parents, and my own three boys.”
-Kristen Seaman, surrogate

“I’m very thankful that my IPs and I are where we are today. After seven long months between transfers, I feel blessed this little baby is finally becoming a reality. I’m also thankful for the bond we all share.”
-Tiffany Goodman, surrogate

“I am most thankful for my health, as I know that feeling well is the key to making each day count. What better way to make each day count then to spend it with my family, my son. Each day I wake up to him saying, ‘Hi mama. I woke up, and you woke up, too. Happy to see you.’  It really doesn’t get better than that.”
-Jen Rachman, parent through surrogacy and current Circle employee

“This holiday season I am so very grateful for my family, which has grown significantly this year.  I’m also grateful that I am able to help create families each and every day.”
-Jeni Denhof, former surrogate and current Circle employee

IMG_1719 “There is so much to reflect on this Thanksgiving— it’s been quite the year! I’m so thankful for my supportive husband and children and my amazing IPs. They all had their special parts in making my surrogacy what it was. I’m grateful that we were successful on the first transfer attempt of two embryos that grew into two healthy, completely beautiful little boys. I am thankful for Circle and all the behind the scenes people that are still such a huge part in this miracle work. And I can’t leave out how grateful I am for having such an intelligent and supportive doctor, hospital, and hospital staff that took care of not only me, but the babies, IPs, and my own family. The superior care I received during this process on the personal and professional level made this the experience of a lifetime.”
-Kristi Johnson, former surrogate and current Circle employee

“I am a grateful for my family and friends and for the Florida sunshine in the winter!”
-Elinor, Circle employee

“I am so very grateful for Circle being in my life. Firstly, they helped in no small way in creating my family, and now I help others learn about just how amazing Circle is at doing what it says on the tin: creating families around the world. I’m also grateful for my beautiful children and gorgeous husband. My family is my reason for breathing. If I had to choose between them and breathing, I would use my last breath to tell them how much I love them.”
-Brett Griffin-Young, parent through surrogacy and Circle employee

“I’m grateful for life’s little surprises that make every day interesting. I’m grateful for the endless opportunities we have to make each day a good one. I’m grateful for the changing seasons and for fresh beginnings. Oh, and dogs.”
-Frannie McBrian, Circle employee 

photo credit: Lawrence OP via photopin cc
photo credit: Tim Pierce via photopin cc

5 Kid-Friendly Recipes to Try This Holiday Season

thanksgiving recipes The holiday season is among us with Thanksgiving just a few days away. The delicious smells of pies, cookies, stuffing, and of course the Thanksgiving turkey will soon fill the homes of many.  Why not start a tradition and get your child(ren) involved in cooking for the holidays?

As a mother of two, I feel that cooking with my children is an important bonding experience for all involved, especially around the holidays. It gives them a sense of importance, helps bring out their artistic abilities, and  shows what the true meaning of the season is really all about – Family.

Cooking with your children is also important on another level – its educational benefit. It helps to enforce what they’re learning in school: measuring, colors, reading the different ingredients, feeling the textures, and smelling different aromas I know that my son loves helping me measure out the ingredients as well as looking through the cookbook for ideas. What he doesn’t realize is he’s practicing valuable math skills and broadening his reading ability but with a fun, hands-on approach.

Depending on the age of your child(ren), there are different skill levels. However, this doesn’t mean that your 3- 4 year old has to miss out on the fun. These little tykes will still have fun even if it’s just pouring, sprinkling, and stirring.

When children help with cooking, even if it’s a minute thing to you, the final outcome gives them a feeling of accomplishment. I know that huge smile on my son’s face after seeing the end result warms my heart every time. Better yet, the bragging he does to the rest of the family about what he has made is absolutely priceless!

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of kid-friendly dessert recipes that you can do with your little ones all holiday season long. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Apple Pie

apple pie recipe INGREDIENTS
2 refrigerated pie crusts
1 egg white
8 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and thinly-sliced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Unfold one of the pie crusts into a 9-inch pie plate. Brush with egg white (this prevents the crust from getting soggy). Let the egg white dry while you prepare the filling.
  • Toss apples with remaining ingredients. Pile into prepared crust.
  • Unfold the second prepared pie crust over the apples, tucking the excess under the bottom crust.
  • Now crimp the edges with your fingers.
  • Cut 3-4 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Cover the pie loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil.
  • Bake 10 minutes. Remove the foil, lower the temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake another 30-40 minutes.

Prep time: 20 minutes  Cook time: 50 minutes

Recipe courtesy of

Continue reading “5 Kid-Friendly Recipes to Try This Holiday Season” »

Surrogate Pregnancy: How to balance pregnancy and family

surrogate pregnancy with children Pregnancy. You’re no stranger to the growing bump, the late-night kicking sessions, or the bizarre food cravings. Yet many women who become surrogates do so because they love all aspects of being pregnant. And becoming pregnant to help another family grow? There’s just nothing like it.

It goes without saying that becoming pregnant while still raising young children is not an easy feat. You may find yourself looking for ways to balance your time and attention between your surrogate pregnancy and your family.

A pregnancy is a pregnancy. While many of the terms of your pregnancy are different as a surrogate, your physical pregnancy experience is not. This means you should take it slow as you did with your previous pregnancies. Just because you are not the biological mother of the child you are bringing to life, it does not mean you should expect the pregnancy to feel dramatically different in terms of physical symptoms. Granted, many parts of your surrogacy pregnancy will be different from your previous ones. Previous surrogate and current Circle employee, Jeni Denhoff, writes about what she found different between pregnancies. Take care of yourself, know when you’ve reached your limit, and take a step back, asking for help when you need it.

Talk to your children about your pregnancy. Explain that just because they won’t be getting a new sister or brother, it doesn’t mean that there’s something special going on in mommy’s tummy. This can be a sensitive subject for many women. We encourage you to explore your resources and come up with a plan to share your adventure with your children in a way that makes sense to them. Need some tips? Here’s a previous blog post we wrote about how to talk to your children about your surrogacy.

Support systems. Whether you need an hour to yourself, or you need someone to watch your little ones while you go to a doctor’s appointment, establishing a support system is essential. As a surrogate, you have the added support team in your intended parents (IPs). Depending on the nature of your relationship, the level and type of support can vary. But one thing is true across all surrogacy arrangements: your IPs are rooting for you. Another benefit of becoming a surrogate with a surrogacy agency is the support you receive. From your assigned program coordination team to the social worker managing your case, you are in good hands at Circle. Use your resources and reach out when you have questions or are looking for guidance.

Time with your kiddos. Children can get jealous and vie for mom’s attention when there’s a new baby in the room (or in this case, womb). Be sure to set aside time to spend with each of your children to reinforce just how important they are to you. Dedicate a night to each of your children. Plan activities he or she loves, and spend some quality time reminding your own children that they are your world.

You are the definition of a champion. You are providing a family with a child they might not otherwise have. Nine months of dedication means you deserve to be pampered! Don’t feel guilty asking for some time to yourself while you are pregnant. Relish in your surrogacy experience, but know that your children will be there throughout it all, holding your hand along the way and later beaming with pride knowing what you did for another family.

Interested in becoming a surrogate and helping a family grow? Learn more and begin your application today.


photo credit: Chynne Sue Photography via photopin cc

A Look Inside the Departments at Circle Surrogacy

Circle Surrogacy At Circle Surrogacy, a lot of hard work goes into ensuring a smooth surrogacy or egg donation experience. As such, our intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors work with several departments throughout their time with us. While each one has different tasks, all departments have an equal amount of responsibility to helping build families.

To give you an idea of what they do and how they tie into your journey, we’ve provided a behind-the-scenes look at the departments at Circle.


The accounting department sends out monthly accounting statements outlining the activity in your trust account. The employees in this department offer the highest level of customer service and maintain a calm demeanor in stressful situations. The accounting team communicates internally with the other departments to keep your journey moving.

Continue reading “A Look Inside the Departments at Circle Surrogacy” »

Becoming a Surrogate Mother: 4 ways to embrace your surrogacy experience

becoming a surrogate mother Becoming a surrogate mother takes time, research, and dedication, but the women who become surrogates become surrogates for life. That’s not to say they dedicate the rest of their lives to the child and family they’ve helped. Different surrogacy arrangements yield different relationships.

Becoming a surrogate mother means taking a stand on the importance of family and advocating for those parents who do need help to build their own. Women become surrogates because it is a cause in which they are invested.

So, how can you further advocate for surrogates and surrogacy? Here are four suggestions to get you started.

  1. Utilize your online resources. Whether you are in the beginning stages of becoming a surrogate mother or an experienced surrogate, the Internet is a great place to find information, ask questions, and connect with other gestational carriers. There are hundreds of websites, blogs, forums, and Facebook groups that provide surrogates with safe places to go for support and answers to their questions.
  2. Build and foster relationships with other surrogates. Build your network of fellow surrogates. Becoming a surrogate is a very unique experience, and most women find that some aspects of surrogacy can only be understood by those who experience it themselves. It’s important to be open about your feelings with people who can relate to you and understand the ins and outs of what it’s like. Connect with women who live near you and organize occasional get-togethers. When you become a surrogate you join a sisterhood of other women who share similar beliefs, outlooks, and stories.
  3. Share your story with family and friends. While many surrogates turn to other surrogates for support and information, it’s important to keep relatives and friends involved, as well. Your surrogate story and your dedication to promoting the cause are things to be shared. Engage in conversation. What was the happiest moment during your journey? How has it changed you and your appreciation for your family? The people closest to you will want to share your joy!
  4. Educate others. People who haven’t been surrogates don’t fully understand what it entails. Bits and pieces of information regarding assisted reproduction might float around the news, or people might see advertisements for surrogates without knowing the facts. Help others understand by creating a blog, sharing your story on social media platforms, and explaining the details of your pregnancy when you’re asked time and time again when you’re due. You have the strongest voice when it comes to advocating for surrogacy because you’ve done it!

You are doing a wonderful thing for a family by providing them with hope, happiness, and new life. Make it known. You’re changing lives (and creating them).

Are you a surrogate and interested in sharing your story on the Circle blog? Email Frannie McBrian at

Interested in becoming a surrogate? Learn more by downloading one of our free guides.

photo credit: @mattiaventurelli via photopin cc

Learn About Surrogacy: 5 Resources to Check Out

Child Birth Starting the surrogacy process can be a little intimidating. We’ve found that parents and surrogates  have an easier time navigating the process when they’ve done a little research before joining our program.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a list of resources for those of you—prospective surrogates and parents alike—who are just getting started. Take a look and let us know if we left anything out!

1. Blogs. Good news, you’re already doing our first recommendation—checking out surrogacy blogs. We’re proud of our own blog, which we keep up-to-date with surrogacy news, advice, and personal stories. But there are countless other blogs out there with additional information. Check out some of the personal blogs being written by surrogates and intended parents who are going through the process to get a sense of what it’s like, directly from the people who are in the thick of things. For starters, try A Baby Not Her Own, written for the Charlotte Observer by Stacey Ashe, a former Circle surrogate. Another great resource is Love Makes A Family, written by Circle’s Jeni Denhof about her experience carrying twins for a gay couple in New York.

Continue reading “Learn About Surrogacy: 5 Resources to Check Out” »

7 Signs You’d Make a Great Gestational Surrogate

Become a Gestational Surrogate 1. You’re family oriented. Diapers, spit-up, tantrums— you name it, you can handle it with aplomb. You make being a caretaker a priority because you want it to be. That’s essential a gestational surrogate’s role, carrying and caring for the intended parents’ child until he’s ready to meet the world.

2. You’re organized. Whether it’s a controlled chaos, or a finely tuned calendar, you have your scheduling down to a science. Gestational surrogates are responsible for gathering important documents at the start of their journey. Further, they need to stay on top of their local monitoring appointments and Skype or telephone calls with intended parents.

Continue reading “7 Signs You’d Make a Great Gestational Surrogate” »

After Your Surrogate Application: What You Can Do Next

surrogate welcome packet Congratulations – once you’ve completed your online surrogate application, you’re on the way to becoming a gestational surrogate!

Here’s what happens next: We’ll review your application within 1-2 business days and let you know if we think you could be a good fit to move forward in the process. Then we’ll send you a few supplemental forms that ask for more detailed information.

What should you be doing in the meantime? Here are a few things you can jump on to keep things going smoothly through the next stage of the process:

1.      Learn more about surrogacy.

The more you know about surrogacy, and Circle’s program in particular, the faster you can move through the application and screening process! We find that applicants who have researched the most about surrogacy tend to be more likely to be approved. With that in mind, start with our blog (since you’re here already!), then take a look at our frequently asked questions page and our Introduction to Surrogacy Guide.

2.      Build a support system.

In order to have a successful journey, we require that a support system be in place at the start of and throughout the program. This can include support from a partner, immediate family members, relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. At this stage of the process, start thinking about a primary support person who can participate in your surrogacy journey. You can start sharing your plans to be a surrogate with your partner and/or family members to make sure they are supportive and understand the process.

3.      Put together a list of your past OB/GYN providers.

Part of our screening of potential surrogates includes a review of medical records from previous pregnancies. We’ll ask for your authorization to contact your previous providers directly to obtain these records. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to start gathering contact information from each of your previous pregnancies, including doctors’ names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, etc.

4.      Find out health insurance information.

If you have insurance that can cover some of the medical costs of your surrogacy, you are entitled to a higher base fee. To determine whether your insurance will provide coverage, we’ll need some information about your plan. At this stage, you can begin looking into obtaining a copy of your benefits book. Your benefits book may be obtained through the Human Resources department at work, or by directly contacting the insurance company. You might also be able to download a copy from your insurance website or an employee portal if you work for a large company.

5.      Gather Photos

When we send your profile to intended parents during the matching stage, we’ll need a few photos of you and your family. Take a look through your photos and try to find photos with good lighting.

The most important thing to do after filling out the surrogate application is to stay engaged. Talk to former surrogates, ask questions, and self-educate. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to the next part of the process: matching with intended parents to help them start a family.

For more information on the post-application phase, email

The Start of Your Surrogacy: Down the path to parenthood

Photo2 It’s official! You’re starting a surrogacy journey with Circle. You’ve signed your agreement for services and have been officially been welcomed. But what’s next?

Following your welcome email, you’re assigned to your program coordination team, which consists of a program manager and a program coordinator. This team is in place to help guide you through each stage of your surrogacy. There are six stages of surrogacy:

  1. Matching
  2. Contracts & Screening
  3. Waiting to Cycle (if necessary)
  4. Transferring
  5. Pregnancy
  6. Delivery

Continue reading “The Start of Your Surrogacy: Down the path to parenthood” »

State Spotlight: Surrogacy in California

surrogacy in california Circle is dedicated to informing intended parents and surrogates as much as possible about surrogacy, including the different state laws addressing the practice.

Here is a brief overview laws pertaining to surrogacy in California.

Favorable Law

California’s laws on surrogacy are some of the nation’s best when it comes to protecting the rights of intended parents, surrogates, and egg donors. California has always kept its laws on surrogacy up to date with scientific advances in assisted reproduction, providing all parties involved in surrogacy arrangements with legal, medical, and financial support. The state recognizes contracts between surrogates, intended parents, and gamete donors.

Surrogacy laws in California allow intended parents to establish parentage before a child is even born through surrogacy with the use of pre-birth orders. All paperwork and legal contracts are taken care of well before the surrogacy birth and surrogates won’t ever need to appear in court. Even in cases that might require post-birth legal action (e.g., second-parent or stepparent adoptions), a surrogate won’t need to be present in court.

Those pursuing surrogacy in California also have access to some of the best hospitals in the world, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Top-Ranked Hospitals for Gynecology.

To learn more about surrogacy in the state of California, click here

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