Each surrogacy process is different as is each surrogate mother in terms of cost, experience and goals
Understanding Surrogacy Costs
For intended parents, pursuing parenthood through surrogacy can be an overwhelming and expensive process.
“How much does surrogacy cost?” and “How much does a surrogate mother cost?” are probably two of the most difficult questions to answer as there are many variables to consider. For instance, costs like agency fees or legal fees can be known in advance but other costs, such as medical expenses, travel requirements or surrogate compensation, are more difficult to estimate.
Here is a basic cost breakdown of the surrogacy process in the US and Canada.
Surrogacy Cost Breakdown
Intended parents’ rights and obligations may change and legal processes will be different, so before you choose a destination, research the following for the region in which you intend to pursue surrogacy:
- What legal securities are there for intended parents and surrogate mothers?
- What are the eligibility criteria for pursuing a surrogacy process? Do you need to be a citizen of the country? Is it available to same-sex couples, single persons, or unmarried couples?
- Is the transfer of parental rights available in the jurisdiction in question?
- What is the post-birth process? How long does it take to complete all the paperwork after the birth?
- Are surrogacy agreements legally enforceable?
- Is commercial surrogacy allowed?
- Is public health insurance available for the surrogate mother (and the baby) during pregnancy, birth, and post-birth?
Many factors influence the total cost of surrogacy. To gain an accurate understanding of surrogacy fees, prospective parents need to understand all of them.
So where do you start? Well, before we discuss fees, we need to talk about the types of surrogacy available. This is because the type of surrogacy you choose will, in large part, determine costs including associated services.
Types of Surrogacy
There are many forms of surrogacy, but when it comes to having a genetic relationship with the baby, there are two types of surrogacy:
- Traditional surrogacy: the surrogate mother is genetically connected to the baby because her eggs are used to create the embryos.
- Gestational surrogacy: the gestational surrogate (gestational carrier) has no genetic link to the child because her eggs are not used, therefore, she acts as a carrier only.
On average, the cost of traditional surrogacy tends to be lower than gestational surrogacy. This is mainly due to differences in the medical process: Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is typically cheaper than In Vitro Fertilization (IVF treatments).
When looking for a surrogate, you should keep in mind that there are many reasons why a woman may decide to become a surrogate. For example, a woman might have financial concerns (commercial surrogacy oriented), enjoy pregnancy, or derive a sense of self-worth and value for her community (altruistic surrogacy) from being a surrogate. In any case, when it comes to surrogate compensation, there are two options:
- Commercial surrogacy: the surrogate receives compensation for carrying the baby (to some degree) along with additional pregnancy-related expenses
- Altruistic surrogacy: the surrogate is only compensated for reasonable, direct expenses
Another factor that will play a role in the cost is the professional you work with. There are two forms of surrogacy when it comes to working with a professional:
- Agency supported surrogacy
- Private/independent surrogacy: the process is done without a surrogacy agency and, aside from intended parents and the surrogate, there is only a lawyer and a fertility clinic involved
For intended parents who are looking to reduce the cost of their surrogacy, an independent journey with a traditional altruistic surrogate may be the cheaper option. (They won’t have to pay agency fees and their surrogate won’t receive monetary compensation.)
Now that we’ve covered the main types of surrogacy available let’s look at the various providers intended parents might encounter through their journey.
The number of professionals that need to be selected and coordinated can be as bewildering as the total cost of surrogacy.
As a prospective parent, it will be up to you to choose the surrogacy providers you feel most comfortable with.
The team of surrogacy specialists supporting the intended parents during the process can include a surrogacy agency, a fertility physician (IVF Clinic), and a family attorney. Therefore, the estimated cost of your surrogacy should be based on their fees.
An agency can support you during the whole surrogacy process, from the psychological and medical screening of the surrogate to the birth of the child.
Agency fees, services, and support can vary significantly, so it’s important to understand what is included in an agency’s fee.
If you choose to go the independent route you will, as noted above, be able to reduce expenses. Of course, this means that you will have to perform the various steps in the process yourself. However, regardless of which route you choose, you must have a family lawyer that specializes in third-party reproduction. Your lawyer will know local regulations and help you draft a surrogacy agreement.
How to Estimate the Real Cost of Surrogacy?
Your surrogacy budget can vary significantly based on the type of surrogacy you pursue, the surrogacy professionals you will need and your personal circumstances. However, there are commonalities that can found in most surrogacy agreements.
The cost of surrogacy can be divided into agency costs, medical costs, legal costs, and egg-donation costs (if an egg donor is needed).
The list below will help you to break down the possible expenses and allow you to make a better estimate of the costs involved in your surrogacy process.
- Agency fees
- Surrogate mother compensation
- Pre-pregnancy expenses (e.g., travel expenses to the fertility clinic chosen by the intended parents)
- Pregnancy expenses
- Additional surrogate mother expenses (e.g., C-sections, multiple births, bed rest)
- Psychological screenings
- Medical screenings
- Medication for the IVF cycle (varies on the number of cycles)
- Additional health insurance for the surrogate mother (if needed)
- Hospital delivery charges
- Legal representation for both parties
- Pre-birth or post-birth legal requirements depending on the country (e.g., DNA testing to ensure that the baby is genetically related to the intended parents)
If an egg donor is needed, all the costs associated with the egg donation need to be considered.
- Agency fees (if you used a paid egg donor database)
- Egg retrieval procedure fees (e.g., clinic fees, medication)
- Medical and psychological evaluations
- Egg donor reimbursements
- Legal representation for both parties
Surrogate Compensation and Reimbursement
How to estimate the Surrogate Mother Cost? One of the major expenses impacting the overall cost of surrogacy is surrogate compensation.
Each surrogate will have their own arrangement with their IPs, but usually, a surrogate’s base compensation is between $20,000 and $50,000. The final amount can fluctuate based on the surrogate’s location, previous experience with surrogacy, and the number of embryos transferred.
Additionally, there are plenty of expenses and fees that the intended parents may need to reimburse. Most of them will be pregnancy-related expenses incurred during the process, and will include:
- Medical, pharmaceutical, and laboratory expenses associated with the transfer, pregnancy, or birth, that are not covered by her health insurance plan.
- One year of life insurance for the surrogate.
- Money spent on groceries and meals for the surrogate, including vitamins and supplements required to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
- Reasonable expenses incurred for travelling at the request of the intended parents or to perform her obligations during the surrogacy journey.
- Clothing to be worn by the surrogate during or immediately after the pregnancy.
- Reasonable costs of housekeeping for the surrogate if such tasks are typically performed by her and she is unable to perform them because of the pregnancy.
- A reasonable amount of massage and acupuncture therapy for the surrogate during the pregnancy if recommended by her physician.
- Reasonable childcare costs to fulfill her duties, or if she requires rest during the pregnancy.
- All related costs incurred by the surrogate during the period of recuperation after the birth of the child (normally for a period of four and six weeks after the delivery).
As you can see, what surrogate mothers are paid, varies from situation to situation. You can talk speak with a family lawyer or surrogacy agency to better understand how much your surrogate compensation might be.
You may think that the surrogate mother cost is quite high, however, when you think about the surrogate’s commitment— medical appointments, medication, the impact on her life, the effect of the pregnancy on her job, her family and friends, and her marriage —you might think differently.
What is the total cost of Surrogacy?
Because no two surrogacies are ever alike, the total price of surrogacy, as well as the surrogate mother cost, can vary significantly. As noted above, there is a very wide range – from $50,000 to $200,000 — therefore, it’s impossible to answer unless one knows the specifics as outlined above. In other words, you won’t know the total cost of the surrogacy until you’ve filled in all the blanks.
For more information regarding surrogacy expenses, check out the video linked below. You can also go to the last section of this article, “Frequently Asked Questions”.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Surrogate Mother Costs
Can you pay a friend to be your surrogate?
Yes, you can pursue gestational surrogacy with a family member or for a friend and pay her to be your surrogate as long as she meets the medical requirements. Note that a contract stating that both parties are aware of their rights and responsibilities will still be needed.
How much does surrogacy cost if you use a friend?
If you have a friend or relative who is willing to carry the baby for you, you can save on surrogate base compensation. You will only have to pay for pregnancy-related expenses.
Is surrogacy covered by insurance?
In most cases, when dealing with a surrogate pregnancy, the intended parents will cover expenses not covered by insurance.
It’s unusual for health insurance companies to cover fertility treatments; they typically only cover the cost of the pregnancy. If a surrogate has an exclusion for surrogacy in her insurance policy, prospective parents will need to cover the cost of an alternate insurance option.
Why is surrogacy so expensive?
Surrogacy is a complex procedure that involves various steps and individuals, including fertility physicians, family attorneys, counselors, etc. all of which have their own associated fees.
How can I make surrogacy less expensive?
The easiest way to cut surrogacy costs is to not use an agency. One word of caution: there are certain risks involved with this decision if the process does not go as smooth as expected.
How much surrogates get paid?
The average compensation, including base compensation and other expenses, can range from $20,000 to $50,000 based on the surrogate’s experience, location, and other arrangements.
Do surrogates get paid monthly?
Yes, surrogates are typically paid in monthly installments via an escrow account. These monthly payments begin after a pregnancy is confirmed by a physician.