Recent Court Decisions on Marriage Equality

marriage equality The fight for marriage equality is being waged across the nation. Since last year’s landmark Windsor case, there have been roughly 28 court rulings declaring anti-marriage equality bans unconstitutional. With the exception of the recent ruling in Tennessee, there has been a string of wins on marriage equality rulings. Here are some of the most recent developments.

In May, Oregon became the 19th jurisdiction to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, striking down an anti-marriage equality state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. The decision was effective immediately, allowing gay couples to say their vows minutes after the ruling.

In July, same-sex marriage bans were overturned by circuit judges in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. Lawsuits in both cases came about when gay couples challenged the legality of the Florida Amendment 2, saying it effectively deems them second-class citizens and violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. A separate lawsuit is pending in Tallahassee federal court that seeks to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban and force recognition of gay marriages issued by other states.

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Comments on the Recent International Surrogacy Stories

international surrogacy

For the past 20 years, since the Johnson v. Calvert case in California, most surrogacy stories in the U.S. press have been positive. So many people of so many walks of life have had their dreams fulfilled by caring women who changed their lives, and American media recognized this. But in recent weeks, the press has been filled with horror stories, stories of other countries where surrogacy is unregulated, where people without the funds for a surrogacy arrangement in the U.S. have been flocking, hoping that nothing would go awry.  Not surprisingly, there have been very serious problems.

Having been personally involved in U.S. surrogacy for 23 years, I have been searching for years for another country that has clear legal guidelines in place, where a lawyer or social worker with a solid reputation could offer U.S. and international parents a way of having children that not only abides by the law, but also gives them certainty of returning home with no legal problems and makes sure their wishes are fulfilled. There is a remarkable dearth of such locations.  Something must change.

For years I have called for and assisted with the drafting of regulations in the United States that would ensure the safety of children born through surrogacy, well-intentioned women carrying these children, and fit individuals and couples to parent these children. We must now call for such regulations internationally.  The individual state legislatures in the United States, national governments throughout the world and the Hague Convention itself must demand laws that require intended parents who wish to go through surrogacy to demonstrate first that they are fit parents to bring home children.  Once authorized to proceed, their home countries should permit applications to nations where surrogacy is legal, where the rights of the intended parents to the child are recognized, where their funds are protected in legally supervised accounts, and where surrogates are screened and matched with intended parents—not only for their similar views on termination and selective reduction, but also for their financial stability and their thoughtful motivations for moving forward with a surrogacy journey.

Had such regulations been in place, most likely none of these horror stories would have occurred.  It is only by burying our heads in the sand, and failing to recognize the longing of infertile and gay couples and single individuals to have a family that we encourage this type of malfeasance.  It’s time to take action.

surrogate medication The heartbreaking surrogacy stories we have heard about recently illustrate the media’s tendency to use the bad situations to bring home the problems with any topic.  Some argue that this is sensationalism.  Others would say it is only through the media’s hyper-focus, digging for minute details, and broad circulation, that things change.  Journalists have long been the agents of dramatic change worldwide.  Let us hope that these horrible stories, so different from the ones we have been hearing about primarily in the United States for the last 20 plus years, will be the driver for long overdue change.

But the change cannot be to ban surrogacy.  Extreme approaches have never worked.  Banning a much desired and needed service only forces people underground or abroad, to unregulated and unprotected places.  Only by thoughtfully implementing measures that focus on protecting everyone involved in a surrogacy arrangement—surrogates, intended parents, and most importantly, children—can we foster the much needed change for which these articles so desperately call.

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5 Tips for Completing the Surrogate Welcome Packet

surrogate welcome packet
Becoming a surrogate is a unique and rewarding experience in which you have the opportunity to give the gift of life and fulfill parent’s dream to build a family. Before acceptance into our program, our surrogates undergo multiple thorough screening processes to ensure that they are eligible to work with us. The first stage requires surrogates to complete a detailed pre-screening application, which provides Circle with enough information to determine the next steps for a potential surrogacy candidate.

Once you’ve passed initial pre-screening portion of the application, we will email you our surrogate Welcome Packet. This document will include the Matching Questionnaire, the Medical Records Information Sheet, a medical records release form, the Commitment to Match agreement, background check information and authorization forms, a health insurance intake form, the SPAR Interest Questionnaire, and provide you with information on compensation for surrogates.  The information you provide in this packet will provide the necessary information for Circle to determine the next steps in your process. The responses you give on the Matching Questionnaire will eventually act as your profile to match with IPs if you are approved to become a surrogate.

You’ve received the Welcome Packet. Now what? Here are some tips!

  1. Read through the whole packet at least once. Understanding what a surrogacy journey entails is very important and will help you when completing the Matching Questionnaire. The questions on this form will ask you to think about your expectations for your surrogacy and the nature of the relationship you hope to have with your IPs.
  2. Answer every question. The questionnaire is one of the early steps involved in the screening process, and it needs to be completely filled out in order for you to move forward. Each answer is asked for a reason and needs to be answered truthfully and thoroughly.
  3. Give details in your longer responses and show a thoughtful dedication to the surrogacy journey. For questions such as, “Why are you interested in surrogacy?” think about how this will help build a family, but also think about what you will gain from the experience. For example, discuss your own experience as a mother and any personal experiences you’ve had with anyone who has been a surrogate or used a surrogacy agency to build his/her family. Take a look at some of the testimonials from previous surrogates about their own experiences.
  4. Think carefully about the questions in the “Journey Expectations” section of the application before you respond. Circle Surrogacy is an internationally acclaimed agency that works with single IPs and couples from across the globe who are looking to grow their families. Remember to be open-minded when reading these questions, as you may not have been aware of the options you have in choosing your surrogacy route before receiving the Welcome Packet.
  5. Use your support system. The Welcome Packet also consists of forms that need to be signed including the Commitment to Match form, the Medical Records Release Form and the Background Check Information form. Have those in your support system review this packet as well so that they’ll better understand your surrogacy journey and all that it entails.


Download our free guide below for more information on the surrogacy process for surrogates.

applying to become a surrogate


Email Ruby Phillips if you have any questions about filling out the Welcome Packet. 

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Accepting Our Children’s Differences: A sit-down with author Craig Pomranz

Made By Raffi

Childhood is a time fraught with uncertainty and insecurity. Growing up, almost everyone, at some point, has felt like the odd man out — or felt just plain different. While some children are fortunate enough to have adults in their life who celebrate their “differences” and encourage them to let their true colors shine, others aren’t so lucky. Made By Raffi (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), a unique new children’s book about one brave little boy who forges his own path despite peer pressure, is a must-read for all children.

While being perceived as different can be difficult for kids who just want to fit in, seeing other kids being brave, and celebrating themselves for who they are, can be a powerful tool. Craig Pomranz’s heartwarming book is one such tool for both children and their parents.

We caught up with Pomranz to ask him some questions about his newly released book, advice for parents and kids who might be struggling with feeling different, and about his own childhood experiences.

Q: What or who was your inspiration for penning Made By Raffi?
A: The book was inspired by my godson. As a little boy, he wasn’t so interested in sports or rough and tumble play. When he was about 9, he asked for knitting needles for his birthday, and I was delighted to supply. He really took to it and found it very peaceful and comforting.  At some point, I guess he was teased. He then began to ask questions about why he was different.

I was fascinated when he came up with the term “tomgirl,” because it brought into focus the huge difference between a little girl who likes traditional boys’ activities – a tomboy – and a little boy who likes traditional girls’ activities. A tomboy is admired for her toughness and independence. But “tomgirl” connotes a negative idea: a little boy who is effeminate or weak.  I thought to myself, this is huge. I can really help kids and parents by telling this story.

Raffi Books Languages (2) Q: What message do you hope to send readers?
A: I hope the book supports young boys and girls who are perceived as “different” because of their appearances or hobbies and at the same time encourages all kids to try many different kinds of activities. I also hope it provides comfort for worried parents. It is healthy for children to experiment, try on different identities, and discover themselves. They should do so openly and without fear. It is a funny, colorful book, because kids should also be able to laugh without malice—differences are fun!

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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.

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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.

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