The average cost of surrogacy in the United States falls between $100,000 and $200,000. These costs can vary greatly because of a variety of factors involved in each individual journey.
Some costs that may be included in a surrogacy journey would be legal fees, agency and escrow management fees, surrogate compensation and reimbursements, travel expenses, medical costs before, during, and after pregnancy, as well as any insurance premiums and copays.
Surrogacy In A Nutshell
Surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman agrees she will become pregnant and carry a child for someone else (known as the Intended Parent or Parents). After the birth of that child, the intention is that the Intended Parents will be the child’s legal and natural parents.
- Why Cost Can Sometimes Be A Challenge
While surrogacy presents a wonderful opportunity to become a parent, some people may be hesitant to pursue surrogacy because of the price tag. Whether you choose to do surrogacy with or without an agency, there are a lot of financial factors that need to be planned for and they can seem overwhelming.
People who move forward with surrogacy face these obstacles by meeting with their financial planner, accessing their 401k and other retirement funds, applying for a personal loan, opening a savings account, or even organizing fundraisers within their community.
Why The Surrogacy Cost In The USA Worth It
While surrogacy may not be legal in all 50 states, the United States is popular for being the international gold standard for surrogacy.
This is because of the legal attention surrogacy gets and because the United States has some of the most advanced IVF clinics in the world. So, while the USA comes with a higher price tag, it comes with many conveniences and assurances that could make it worth it to you.
Factors That Affect Surrogacy Cost
There are several factors that affect how much your surrogacy will cost. The below is a good list you can use to begin the process of what to consider.
Surrogacy Agency Fees
Currently in the US, there are a large number or surrogacy agencies available to choose from. You will see the level of services provided, as well as agency fees vary among each agency.
While there are cost outliers for all-inclusive packages or the more “boutique” agencies, we have seen costs for as low as $5,000, for something as simple as matching you with a surrogate, to $30,000 which is the full-service option to match, monitor, counsel, support, and make sure all your surrogacy needs are handled through each step of the surrogacy process.
Many agencies offer specific service levels depending on your need, but most people go to agencies requesting the full-service treatment so that they are guided and supported throughout the entire process.
An agency has experience and knowledge in the entire process and has handled many cases. Many intended parents find this knowledge and experience invaluable, and that any costs associated with an agency fee would be worth the investment.
Here are some services offered by a Surrogacy Agency:
Finding someone who is not only willing but qualified to be a surrogate is not a straightforward task. Agencies spend a lot of time and money looking for and vetting potential surrogate mothers.
The Agency will normally get to know the Intended Parent(s) to determine the person they are looking for to hopefully successfully match them with a surrogate. This matching is so critical to the tone of the surrogacy.
It doesn’t serve the Agency to just match the Intended Parents with just anyone. The Agency wants the relationship to be a success, so that everyone enjoys the process.
Outside of this initial screening, there are other important parts to this matching process, such as background checks, medical evaluations, psychological evaluations and home assessments.
Counseling, Ongoing Support, and Educational Resources
Surrogacy is a complex and emotional journey for both intended parent(s) and the surrogate. Each party should have ongoing support and counseling. Depending on the agency, many educational resources are also included to understand the surrogacy process fully for all parties.
Surrogate Fee and Reimbursement
There are many factors to consider relating to surrogacy costs, one of which is what the industry refers to as base compensation.
Base compensation is the payment to the surrogate for the time, pain, and commitment she gave in going through with the pregnancy. Base compensation can differ because of a variety of factors.
A key factor being whether the surrogate has had prior experience with surrogacy and the state the surrogate lives in. While there are outliers, the average base compensation can range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000
In rare cases, this fee can be all-inclusive, but usually there will be additional disbursements during the process. Some of these items might include, but are not limited to, a monthly allowance, a maternity clothing allowance, travel expenses, lost wages, and other invasive procedure fees.
Experience With Surrogacy
Whether it’s the surrogate’s first time or she’s had a successful surrogacy pregnancy before, can change the level of base compensation for the surrogate.
There are many procedures throughout a surrogacy journey and finding someone who has completed the process successfully at least once already, and will carry again, can cause a higher base compensation.
Where the surrogate is located could also affect her compensation level. For example, surrogates living in California normally receive $5,000-$15,000 more than someone with the same experience level in a separate state.
Multiple Pregnancies (If Applicable)
Whether a surrogate will carry over one child at a time would add an amount to your surrogacy costs.
Additionally, if she has had a successful previous set of multiples through surrogacy that could also increase her compensation request.
It is very typical to see a non-accountable monthly allowance paid to the surrogate to cover incidentals during the surrogacy process. Normally, this allowance should cover things like travel under a certain distance, fax or phone charges, notary costs, minimal lost wages or childcare for short appointments.
This allowance will usually start upon final legal contract execution and go until a few weeks after the delivery of the baby.
There are several reasons your surrogate may have to travel and that usually depends on how far your clinic and preferred birth hospital are to her location.
Some of these times include, but are not limited to, medical screening, monitoring, embryo transfer, seeing any specialists while pregnant, OBGYN appointments, and even the birth of the child.
These expenses can be things like airfare, hotel, food per diem, childcare, car rental, and other smaller ancillary travel costs.
This is a common surrogacy cost provided to your surrogate to allow them to buy clothes to fit their expanding belly while carrying your child.
There are several reasons your surrogate may have a lost wage request during the surrogacy. Just some reasons a surrogate would need to take time off would be for medical screening, embryo transfer, doctor’s appointments related to the pregnancy, doctor’s requested bed rest, and the delivery.
The surrogate’s spouse may also be eligible for lost wages because of specific appointments or after delivery care related to the surrogacy.
This is applicable when the surrogate must go through any invasive procedures. There is a long list of invasive procedures, but some of the more common ones we see are a D&C, c-section, hysteroscopy, hysterectomy, or the loss of a reproductive organ.
There are several medical costs that you should consider when reviewing your potential surrogacy costs.
- Medical Screenings. The initial costs related to confirming the surrogate is a mentally and physically a viable candidate. Even if she has been a surrogate before, these are required for each surrogacy she attempts.
- Egg Or Sperm Donors. If needed to create your embryos. While sperm donation ranges from $100 to $500, an egg donor usually receives anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on previous donation success or high demand for their particular genetics.
- IVF Procedures. IVF alone can run $8,000 to $30,000 in each attempt to get to a successful pregnancy
- Pregnancy Checkups. With medical insurance, normally we see around $3,000 for OB GYN appointments of a singleton pregnancy.
Labor And Delivery. With medical insurance normally we see around $5,000 for the delivery costs of a vagina, singleton pregnancy.
Intended Parents will most likely need to gain health insurance for the gestational surrogate, if she doesn’t already have a “surrogacy-friendly” policy. Additionally, they will need insurance for their future child.
For the surrogate, this will help pay for her medical care during pregnancy and delivery and range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 a month depending on the type of insurance plan available in her state and the level of insurance picked.
On top of the monthly premiums, there is almost always an out-of-pocket deductible and potentially a coinsurance percentage as well.
The Intended Parent(s) will need to hire an attorney experienced in reproductive law to handle the preparation of the surrogacy contract. The costs for this range by attorney, and whether you use an attorney who may have a negotiated rate with an Agency, can range from $2,000 to $6,000.
Additionally, the Intended Parent(s) would cover the cost of the surrogate’s chosen attorney to review the surrogacy contract with her and we have seen that range from $500 to $1500.
- Gestational Surrogacy Contracts
The Intended Parent(s) will need either a Pre-Birth Order (done before the birth) or Post-Birth Order (done after the birth) once the surrogate is pregnant. Some attorneys do the surrogacy contract and PBO together as a package price and others bill it separately and range from $2,000 to $4,000.
Aside from the abovementioned expenses, there are other expenses that may come in to play as surrogacy costs. Contracts usually require that a life insurance policy be put in to place for the surrogate.
Another potential option is if you would want, and the surrogate agrees, to provide breast milk after the birth of your child. These are just some things to consider when looking at potential surrogacy costs.
Payment Strategies For Surrogacy
One of your first thoughts might be – what options are there for me to gather enough funds together to afford surrogacy? Here are a few that we have seen.
This includes employee benefits and health insurance that hopeful parents can use. More and more companies are adding benefits for covering or reimbursing for IVF and Surrogacy related costs.
Have you been saving for a rainy day or intentionally saving already for this process? If so, this could be the quickest option to fund your surrogacy cost needs.
If you have a home with equity in it, you could refinance your mortgage to pull that cash out to afford the costs of surrogacy.
Pulling money from your retirement accounts is an option to cover surrogacy costs. However, make sure you inquire about any potential tax implications for any early withdraws from those accounts.
Family and Friends
Do you have any family or friends that can gift or loan you the funds to support your needed surrogacy costs?
This option is only available depending on your need and story, but there are options out there that you can explore to help with surrogacy costs.
Taking out a personal loan or a loan from a retirement vehicle like 401K to pay for surrogacy costs is also an option.
Surrogacy Cost Reduction Tips
If going through all those costs involved is making you hesitant to go through the surrogacy process, it is important to note that there are ways you can save on them.
- Save Early. The decision to use a surrogate is not only an emotional one but it can be financially tasking. As soon as you think there is a possibility, go this route, saving early is best.
- Find A Local Surrogate Mother. Using a surrogate that is local to you or local to your clinic and preferred hospital can help save on travel costs.
- Find A Friend or Relative’s Help. Whether this person will gift you funds to help towards the cost of the surrogacy or actually be your surrogate mother, friends and family is often a great resource.
Is Independent Surrogacy Better?
here are several things you should consider when deciding on whether you should find a surrogate through an agency or one that is independent from an agency.
Most people look at this strictly from a surrogacy cost perspective, but there are some other factors to consider as well.
- Lower Cost Than “Full Agency” Programs
Generally, a surrogate that is independent may have a lower base compensation and you save the costs related to hiring a surrogacy agency.
- Difficulty In Finding a Qualified Surrogate
Finding a qualified surrogate and getting her through medical and legal clearance can become much more difficult without the experience, knowledge, and tools that an agency has.
- Handling Of All Administrative Tasks
This is challenging from two angles. The first angle is knowing which items need to be handled and when for insurance, legal, medical, etc. The other angle is having the time to handle the items that need attention. Both factors are unique challenges for intended parent(s) to handle.
Prepare Your Finances for A Successful Surrogacy Experience
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when preparing for surrogacy costs. Having an escrow agent in your corner who has knowledge and experience in what to look for, industry norms, and is willing to assist you in this process can help you breathe a sigh of relief.