The average cost of surrogacy can exact a hefty financial toll. Add this to the fertility journey that some people take to arrive at surrogacy, and the joy of holding a much wanted baby often comes at great medical, psychological, and emotional cost as well.
Expensive and Complex
If you are considering surrogacy, also called third party reproduction, it is important to know from the start that it is an expensive endeavor. Surrogacy also has important legal, medical, and psychosocial complexities for the indented parent(s) as well as the surrogate. There are also many steps involved in the process; the need for expert help is the part of the reason for the expense of surrogacy.
The average cost of surrogacy can run as low as $60,000 or as high as $80,000-$120,000, depending on whether or not you involve a surrogacy agency and a lawyer, as well as on other variable factors. Larger agencies offer more services and assistance but charge higher fees than smaller ones.
Your total cost will also depend on your individual fertility circumstances and the particular needs of your surrogate, as well as any legal and custody issues that arise.
Even if you find your own surrogate, consider engaging a reputable surrogacy agency. Some - but not all - agencies will help single and gay intended parents. Because of the complicated legal issues, a lawyer with surrogacy expertise is also essential.
Many fertility centers include a surrogacy program aligned with a team of experts. Alternately, your fertility center might refer you to one of their selected surrogacy agencies to find a surrogate. On the other hand, many surrogacy agencies have their preferred fertility centers and legal experts to whom they refer.
Breakdown of Costs
The following are the fees that make up the average cost of surrogacy through an agency and the common additional variable costs.
Agency Fee: $15,000-30,000
This fee can include:
- Administrative fees
- Cost of finding, screening and enlisting the surrogate
- Screening an egg donor if needed and found through the agency
- Screening a sperm donor if needed and found through the agency
If an agency suggests psychological screening and counseling of your surrogate or parents, expect to pay an additional $2,500.
Agency fees vary depending on their size and experience:
- Family Forward Surrogacy, a small Bethesda, Maryland, United States agency lists a fee of $15,000.
- Circle Surrogacy, a larger Boston agency, lists $21,200, including $700 for screening surrogate.
- The Conceivabilities agency lists $20,900.
The agency fee is usually paid in installments starting when you sign an agency agreement. Fees are higher for international clients.
Surrogate's Compensation: $15,000-$35,000
Some surrogates ask for additional fees for carrying twins or greater, or giving birth by cesarean section. In general, more experienced surrogates charge more.
This fee is usually put in an escrow account and paid to the surrogate over the course of the pregnancy rather than in a lump sum. Money is usually not passed directly from intended parent(s) to surrogate.
The larger agencies list higher fees for their surrogates. For example:
- The Conceivabilities agency lists $30,000 for its surrogate fee.
- The Alternative Reproductive Resources of Chicago Illinois, with an international clientele, lists a typical surrogate fee of $30,000-$35,000.
- Growing Generations, another United States agency with an international clientele, lists $40,000 -$60,000, but this includes surrogate travel and lost wages.
Surrogate Additional Costs: $4000-$5,000
These additional costs include:
- Life insurance to protect the surrogate's family: $300-$600
- Embryo transfer and bed rest: $1,500
- Maternity clothes: $500 ( $750 for twins)
- Surrogate additional living expenses: $2,400-$3.600 ($200/month for 12-16 months; includes food)
Legal Fees: $2,000-$10,000
This covers such items as:
- Legal agreement between agency and intended parent(s)
- Legal agreement between surrogate and intended parent(s)
- Legal agreement between lawyer and intended parent(s)
- Management of escrow account
- Document for "declaration of parentage" before birth and whose name goes on the birth certificate
- Review of state surrogacy laws; surrogacy is not legal in every state in the United States or some parts of Europe
- Executing "declaration of parentage" before birth
- Reviewing and executing parental and custody rights as required by your state's law
- Adoption proceedings according to your state law
Costs for Intended Parents
The average cost of a fresh IVF process is around $10,000- $20,000, including:
- Fertility medications: $3,000 to $5,000
- Sperm preparation: $200 to $400 per cycle
- Monitoring the IVF cycle, egg retrieval and incubation/fertilization
- Embryo transfer: $750
Use of frozen embryos is less expensive, at around $4,000 to $8,000
Additional Variable Costs
In addition to the average surrogate, agency and legal fees, your cost will be higher if you need to pay for the following::
- Surrogate supplemental health insurance, if needed
- Newborn health insurance if intended parents' insurance does not cover newborn care
- Cost of finding, screening, testing and compensation for an egg donor if done by parents/fertility center
- Cost of finding, screening and testing sperm donor if done by parents/fertility center
- More than one attempt of IVF to achieve a gestational surrogate pregnancy
- Travel and hotel costs, and incidentals for surrogate to intended parent(s) city for embryo transfer, and delivery if that is the arrangement
- Travel and hotel costs for you and your partner if you want to go to prenatal appointments with your surrogate
- Lost wages for your surrogate if she has to miss work for prenatal appointments or bed rest
- Child care and housekeeping costs if your surrogate is put on bed rest
- Negotiable fees, such as confirmation of pregnancy, conformation of heartbeat, any needed surgeries such as a hysterectomy, in addition to the medical fees
Managing the Cost
You can potentially reduce your surrogacy cost by the following:
- Reaching out to family and friends to find a donor.
- Such a donor might decide to not charge a fee and only ask you to cover personal expenses.
- Some surrogacy agencies might reduce their fee if you have your own surrogate.
- If your surrogate lives in your city, you eliminate hotel and airfares.
Some Financing Options
For those without adequate funds, there are options to finance the cost of surrogacy. As with any loan, consider your options carefully and read the fine print of any loan agreement so you understand how the loan, interest rates, and repayment are structured.
Potential sources for funding include:
- Loan from a surrogacy agency; for example, the Growing Generations agency lends up to $100,000
- Loan from your fertility center; some will lend money for fertility medications and IVF and other fertility costs, including surrogacy
- Home equity loan, but you can lose your home if you default on the loan
- Unsecured bank loan
- Use of credit cards
- There are grants available for various groups
- Borrow from your 401(k)
Some agencies will provide surrogate medical insurance, others will finance all or part of the cost of surrogacy. For example:
- New Life Agency provides medical insurance for a surrogate as well as other fertility financing.
- MedicalFinancing lends up to $20,000 for fertility treatments as well as other medical procedures.
- CAPEXMD, a private financing company, lends $30,000-$50,000 for fertility treatments.
Resolve/The National Infertility Association, an infertility advocacy group, offers a list of other assistance and financing options.
Use of Surrogates Outside the United States
Going outside the United States can often lower your surrogacy costs. For example many American and European intended parents are choosing Indian women and Thai women as surrogates, at an average cost of $25,000. Because of concerns by the Indian government and medical community and others, the Indian parliament is looking to further regulate their surrogacy industry.
The Real Cost of Surrogacy
The real cost of surrogacy includes not just the financial aspect, but the emotional and psychological toll that can occur for both intended parents and surrogates. This can be an expensive, stressful and complex journey. Choose reputable fertility centers, surrogate agencies, and surrogacy lawyers that have the expertise to help you through the process.
Investigate Before You Sign
The surrogacy industry is under-regulated, so there are also many agencies that will prey on your vulnerabilities during this stressful time. Do your own thorough investigations and ask many questions before you sign with and pay an agency. Make sure your journey for a healthy baby is as honest and joyful as possible.