The History of Surrogacy: How Surrogacy Has Evolved

HOS pic To many, surrogacy may seem like a revolutionary idea. While this holds some truth in that the legality and medical advancements are ever-changing, the fact of the matter is that surrogacy has been around for thousands of years. Ever since people have been reproducing, surrogacy has been an alternative, helpful way of doing so.

Traditional surrogacy is a relatively straight forward process, requiring a fertile man and a fertile woman, which made it an effective way of childbearing throughout human history. In fact, the bible cites an ancient instance of traditional surrogacy. Sarah, who was infertile, requested that her handmaiden, Hagar, carry her husband, Abraham’s, child.

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Marriage Equality and Surrogacy: Effects of the Supreme Court’s Ruling

In ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality today, the Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right to marry for same-sex couples. But the Court has also made the legal aspects of surrogacy significantly easier for same-sex couples in many states.

marriage-equality-surrogacy As Justice Anthony Kennedy noted in the Court’s majority opinion, marriage carries with it many rights, benefits, and responsibilities including inheritance, taxation, hospital visitation, birth and death certificates, worker’s compensation, etc. There are countless examples of the state and federal governments codifying marriage benefits into law.

A number of states have written these benefits into their surrogacy statutes. These are essentially thinly veiled attempts to prevent same-sex couples from pursuing surrogacy, establishing requirements that intended parents be “married couples.” Today’s ruling changes things.

In short: states with surrogacy statutes that require intended parents be married couples will now be required to extend the benefits of the surrogacy statutes to married same-sex couples. This means states like Utah, Florida, Virginia, and Texas will now need to treat married same-sex couples who are pursuing surrogacy as equal to their heterosexual counterparts. Note: this change may not be immediate and the states may need some education and instruction but it should be forthcoming.

To be clear: same-sex couples have been able to pursue surrogacy in these states in the past; however, they have often been subjected to additional legal hoops and added expense. Before today, a married same-sex couple from New York could work with a surrogate in Utah, for example, but would have been well advised to complete a second-parent adoption upon returning home to secure the parental status of the non-biological parent. Now, that couple can take advantage of the benefits afforded by the Utah surrogacy statute.

Circle’s home state of Massachusetts provides another illustrative example of the changes we can expect. Before Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, a pre-birth order (PBO)—the legal proceeding which finalizes parental rights in a surrogacy arrangement before birth—was only possible for a married heterosexual couple. The possibility was extended to married gay and lesbian couples after marriage equality became the law of the land here.

It is a great day for all same-sex couples across this country. And the future is bright for those who choose to build their families through surrogacy.

BREAKING: Same-Sex Marriage Legalized Nationwide!!!

The United States Supreme Court has issued a landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalizes same-sex marriage in every state. This is a major victory for the LGBT community now ending the fight for marriage equality in America, marking a time to rejoice and celebrate yet another historic LGBT Pride month.

Marriage Equality

Today with a final Supreme Court ruling of 5-4 in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, we’ve come a long way. Not too long ago members of the LGBT community simply had to accept that a same-sex marriage would not be in their future, but times have changed! Recent polls found that over 60% of Americans support gay marriage. Before the ruling same-sex marriage was legal statewide in only 35 states.

As President Obama noted, “love is love” and members of the LGBT community deserve the same rights and legal standing as every other couple wishing to spend the rest of their lives together.  Legalizing same-sex marriage shows understanding that the union between two men or two women is equal to the union shared between a man and woman and that it therefore deserves the same benefits and recognition.

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The Importance of Surrogate’s and Egg Donor’s Body Mass Index (BMI)

In order to be considered for surrogacy or egg donation, applicants have to meet certain qualifications. One such requirement is Body Mass Index (BMI). Curious as to why it’s so important? Then read on!

BMI For those of you unfamiliar with the term, BMI is calculated using an algorithm that incorporates an individual’s height and weight, providing a reliable indicator of body fat for most people; you can find your own value by calculating your BMI. In general healthcare, it’s often used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, such as diabetes. In assisted reproduction, it’s used to qualify surrogate and egg donor applicants.

BMI requirements differ for surrogates and egg donors. However, weight plays a big role in both processes. Let’s start with surrogacy.

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LGBT Pride Month 2015: History in the Making

LGBT Pride FlagThe sun is shining bright and the rainbow flags are waving! It must be June: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month! “Why do we celebrate at this time of the year?” you may wonder. Let’s take a look back at June 28th, 1969, the night that LGBT Pride Month commemorates. Only decades ago homosexuality was illegal in the United States, and it wasn’t uncommon for police to raid nightclubs and bars. On this particular night at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in New York, the LGBT community stood their ground. There were six days of protests that are now seen as a turning point in U.S. history for gay civil rights.

This June is especially important with majority of America expecting the Supreme Court to make a nationwide ruling in favor of same-sex marriage later this month. Even President Obama has issued a proclamation for LGBT Pride Month for June 2015, showing his support for equality.

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Medical Breakthrough: Woman Gives Birth after using her own Frozen Ovary

Woman gives Birth using her own Frozen Ovary It was reported earlier this month in the journal Human Reproduction that a woman at the age 28, has given birth using her own cryopreserved ovary. The medical breakthrough took place in Belgium, where she gave birth to a baby boy this past Fall.

The young woman was diagnosed with sickle cell disease at the age of five, her condition worsening, and at the age of 13 she was in need of a bone marrow transplant. In order to prevent rejection of the new tissue, chemotherapy or radiation is used before this procedure, which often leaves patients infertile as their ovaries may permanently stop producing eggs. Before chemotherapy doctors extracted her right ovary and froze fragments of the tissue.

Later, at the age of 25, the young woman wanted to start a family. Fifteen small tissue samples from her frozen ovary were thawed and four were grafted on to the remaining left ovary, which had atrophied. The eleven other fragments were surgically put under the skin and around the abdomen.

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Happy Father’s Day to our Proud Dads

Happy Fathers Day

Father’s Day means something different to each of us, whether it’s a day to do something special for your old man, to give both your dads a big hug, or the day that commemorates the moment you found out you were going to be a father! Dove’s newest commercial for their #RealStrength campaign shows some real reactions with footage of men finding out that they’re going to be a dad. The message behind their campaign is that showing care takes real strength. Dads can sometimes be the tough guy for their kids, but this commercial shows the genuine expressiveness and joy that revolves around being a father and building a family.

Fathers probably have the moment they realized they were going to be a dad cemented into their memories. Maybe they were expecting it or maybe they were caught completely off guard, full of surprise, overwhelmed by happiness, and a just a little bit nervous about this next step in their life. You can see the dads in the commercial with their mouths open in disbelief, picking up their partner overjoyed, and some getting a little teary eyed.

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A Day in the Life of a Program Coordinator

I’m off to work, riding the train with all the people who have ordinary jobs in downtown Boston. My name is Ryan— I am a Circle Surrogacy Program Coordinator. I may even be your Program Coordinator. If so, I am thinking of you now. Perhaps we just met, or maybe we are familiar friends. Maybe your journey hasn’t started, or maybe it’s just finished. Each journey is a collection of stories with the same goal— to bring new life into this world.

program-coordinators When someone asks me what I do, I take in a deep breath and forget about everything I was planning on doing for the next hour. If you tell someone, “I coordinate the journey of surrogacy,” questions will follow. The less this person knows about surrogacy, the more surprising the questions may be.

A typical day for a Program Coordinator is never typical. Every day I sit down at my desk in front of the same tiny rock collection and I prepare for something big to happen. It is rare that I will sit longer than fifteen minutes past 9 a.m. before an excited shriek breaks the morning silence of our office. Perhaps a surrogate had a positive beta test, or we just received a photo of a newborn baby. These are magical moments for us, and we love to share them with the rest of the Circle team.

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Michigan Passes Law Allowing Adoption Agencies to Refuse LGBT Parents

Michigan Senate State House Last Wednesday, three bills were passed by Michigan’s Republican-controlled Senate and on Thursday they were signed by Governor Rick Snyder, making it legal for adoption agencies in Michigan to refuse their services to LGBT parents. Bills 1488, 1489, and 1490 together state that private adoption agencies can deny services to those that conflict with their “sincerely held religious beliefs”, and that the state department of social services, state government, and local government will not take any opposing action towards these agencies for doing so. This legislation is part of the country’s many Religious Freedom Acts. The Michigan bills don’t explicitly mention same-sex couples, but are obviously aimed at the LGBT community and anyone else that an agency could see as unfit in accordance with their own beliefs.  Religious freedoms are already protected by the U.S. and state constitutions, but this new  law protects agencies against potential lawsuit in cases where they feel their freedom to exercise their religious beliefs is more important than the agency’s overall goal of placing children into safe, loving, and permanent homes. Although labeled as private, Michigan adoption and foster care agencies received a combined $20 million in the 2014-2015 state budget. The state’s largest adoption agencies are faith-based.

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Irish Vote for Marriage Equality

Ireland became the 20th country to legalize same-sex marriage on Saturday. Notably, it is the first to embrace marriage equality by national popular vote.
9177886481_74c19f8301_n Previous national marriage equality decisions have come through the courts or legislative bodies. (Notably, at the U.S. state level, voters approved marriage equality measures in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State in 2012)

Irish voters passed the initiative by a large majority, with 62% in favor of amending the country’s Constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry and 38% voting against the measure. Gay rights activists consider the vote an important victory in a country that is traditionally heavily Catholic, where homosexuality decriminalized  only 22 years ago.

For more coverage, visit the New York Times.

photo credit: LGBTQ Pride Festival 2013 – There Is Always Something Happening On The Streets Of Dublin via photopin (license)