7 Useful Ways to Manage the Back-to-School Season

back to school Has the back-to-school season led to some mommy angst? Not to worry, you’re not alone. However, fewer people are probable navigating the hectic season while also pursuing a surrogacy. You go girl! To offer some guidance, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can help minimize the BTS chaos.

1. Accept that it’s going to be a hectic time of year. Unfortunately, you can’t fight it. The lazy, hazy days of summer are long gone, replaced by new binders, sharpened pencils, and backpacks packed to the brim. Once you’ve accepted the hustle and bustle, you’ll be ready to start managing your time more effectively.

2. Exercise. (If you’re pregnant, keep this limited to what your OB allows.) Going for daily walks, practicing yoga, and bike riding are all great ways to get the heart pumping while not overdoing it. In addition to keeping your body healthy, exercise encourages mental clarity and a more peaceful state of mind. Something you won’t take for granted during the next few months!

3. Have your post-school schedule figured out. The kids are at school for most of the day, giving you more time to manage the household and take care of things on your never-ending to-do list. Great! But what happens when you reach 2pm dismissal? Arranging your afterschool care gives everyone in your family a sense of security and routine, which is helpful during any transitional period. If you plan on having the kids come home after classes end, look for some ways to keep them engaged (after they’ve finished homework assignments, of course). Check out these 101 after-school activities for kids.

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The Role of the Program Coordinator

Role of PC When intended parents (IPs) sign on with Circle, they are assigned a program coordinator (PC). The PC’s job is to provide IPs with information, offer assistance throughout each stage, and coordinate between relevant Circle departments and third-party agencies. The PC also fosters open communication between intended parents and their surrogate and/or egg donor.

Each journey is complex with several different parties involved. Program coordinators remain in contact with intended parents, surrogates, donors, IVF clinics, insurance companies, etc. to gather and relay information to the necessary parties.

Program coordinators provide information and guidance about the next steps in a surrogacy arrangement and help intended parents navigate the various decision-making points of a journey.

Program coordinators provide information to intended parents, surrogates, and donors at key points throughout the surrogacy. If intended parents have questions or concerns about the events in their journey, they should feel free to direct them to the program coordinator, who may then answer their question(s) or refer intended parents to others who will be better suited to respond. If intended parents have specific requests for communicating with their program coordinator, they are encouraged to speak openly with their PC to establish a communication plan.

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Matching with a Surrogate: 5 Tips to Strengthen Your Parent Profile

surrogate parents It’s time to match with a surrogate and/or egg donor, and that means completing your parent profile. The information you provide is used as a tool during the matching phase of the process, helping the surrogate and/or egg donor to learn more about you and your partner. Your profile also helps us align you with surrogates and egg donors who have similar ideals and viewpoints.

Once your profile is complete, we’ll remove all identifying information so we can present it to a potential surrogate or egg donor. She can then learn about your background, the relationships you have, life experiences, health information, surrogacy expectations, coveted levels of communication, and the type of parent (s) you want to be.

The stronger the profile, the better the impression you can make on a potential surrogate. Heed the following tips, and you’ll be well on your way to a wonderful match.

1. Tell your story with no holds barred. Some intended parents feel apprehensive about opening up and sharing their stories of how they came to surrogacy. But ultimately a surrogate wants to feel connect to her intended parents, making it appropriate to talk a bit about the journey that led you to this point.

2. Be honest. The matching team uses your profile to find you a compatible surrogate. And not having accurate information could mean being presented with a surrogate who isn’t the best fit in the end. Rest assured that all identifying information is redacted, meaning it’s kept confidential. Feel free to be open and honest, elaborating on even the smallest of details.

3. Write a letter to your future surrogate and/or egg donor. The letter is an attempt to open up and share your thoughts beyond the profile. Introduce yourselves and offer details about your daily lives. Reveal how you came to surrogacy and what you want out of the experience and relationship with your surrogate. Remember, you’re ultimately asking these women to help you start a family. Be real. Be yourselves. This is a chance to let your guard down and show your personality. And don’t forget to thank the surrogate and/or egg donor for incredible thing they are about to do- whether it’s for you or another set of intended parents.

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Circle’s Guest Post on SHARE

This is a guest post for SHARE cancer support group by Jen Rachman, LCSW, ovarian cancer survivor and Outreach Coordinator here at Circle Surrogacy, Ltd. To read the full blog post, click here.

surrogacy after cancer

When I was 5 years cancer-free, I felt secure enough to start considering what family-building options I had.  As I began exploring surrogacy as an option to have a family, I quickly realized how much information there was to learn about the process and how to make a successful journey work.  After we had done our research, educated ourselves and signed on with Circle Surrogacy, we felt comfortable sharing our plans with our support network.  I was taken aback by the responses I heard and immediately came to realize how many misconceptions there are about surrogacy.  These myths are the result of a lack of information, coupled with a few over sensationalized cases in the media.  After having been through my own amazing journey to parenthood, I thought it would be nice to clear up these common misconceptions.

Surrogates are only in it for the money.  Though it is true that surrogates are compensated for their efforts during the process, there are a variety of reasons women want to be a gestational carrier.  After all, shouldn’t they be compensated for helping bring a life into this world?   A surrogate is generally paid $25,000 for at least a year of time and dedication.   Let’s be honest; this amount of money won’t make her rich or drastically change her lifestyle for long.   Some reasons that women want to become surrogates are things like, “my sister struggled to get pregnant and I want to help someone avoid such struggles,” or “I have had easy pregnancies and it isn’t a stressor for me.  I would love to help someone else who can’t have a baby.”  Most reasons are altruistic, with an honest desire to help others become parents.

The baby will be biologically related to the surrogate. In traditional surrogacy, the child is biologically related to the carrier; however, this isn’t the case in gestational surrogacy.  In a gestational surrogacy arrangement, embryos are made using eggs from the intended mother (or eggs donor) and sperm from the intended father (or sperm donor).   The embryos are implanted into the surrogate who will carry the pregnancy to term, and there is no genetic connection between her and the baby.  Today, traditional surrogacy is rare due to the complexity that could be created by a genetic bond.  Therefore gestational surrogacy is more common.  My surrogate described it best when she said, “It’s your bun, I am just the oven.”


 To read the full blog post, click here.


How I Came to Surrogacy—both Personally and Professionally


Let me introduce myself. I am Brett Griffin-Young, a dad through surrogacy and adoption. I also have been working for Circle Surrogacy for the last four years. As the International Outreach Associate, I represent Circle Surrogacy around the world in various ways. I have been civil partnered (married) to my husband, Matthew, since July 2006, and  have been a couple since February 2001. We live in Nottinghamshire, England, raising our son and a daughter!

Matt and I discussed having children one day, but it was always a case of “one day.” In April 2008, I was celebrating my 35th birthday in London with a friend from Canada. While walking along the River Thames, the conversation turned to Matt and me becoming parents. Yet again, our initial response was “one day.” At that moment, our friend turned to us and said, “Tick tock. Tick tock. You’re not getting any younger.” We burst out laughing at this, but then immediately realized what she was saying. She was right. If we did not act now, there was every chance we would spend the next 20-30 years saying “one day!”

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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. 

photo credit: CarbonNYC via photopin cc

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. 

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc