If you’re struggling to conceive and are unable to carry a pregnancy for medical reasons, or if you’re an LGBTQ+ couple hoping to grow your family, surrogacy can be a unique and beautiful path to parenthood. However, whether you’re just starting out on your journey or contemplating your next steps, the cost of surrogacy on top of the price of IVF can be overwhelming to think about.
The truth is, the cost of surrogacy can actually vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, from the agency you choose to the location of the surrogate. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, in this article we’re breaking it all down for you so you can have the clarity you need to make informed decisions throughout the process.
Surrogacy Cost Breakdown
Choosing surrogacy as your path to parenthood involves the expertise of many professionals – from fertility specialists and lawyers to psychologists and social workers. Having a solid team to help you navigate this complex process and an experienced agency to coordinate the journey all contribute to the overall price tag, which typically falls between $80,000 and $200,000.
In addition to the fees for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures such as IVF and, in some cases, egg donation, the cost of surrogacy can be broken down into several different categories: agency fees, screening & support for the surrogate, cost of the surrogate, legal fees, and insurance. So, what does all of this mean, and what are you actually paying for?
Surrogacy Agency Fees
While independent surrogacy journeys are possible, working with an experienced surrogacy agency can provide intended parents with peace of mind knowing that seasoned professionals are there to help them navigate any situations or challenges that may occur during the process.
Fees for a full-service surrogacy agency can range anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the services provided. This normally includes screening potential surrogates, matching intended parents with a surrogate, coordinating the various surrogacy professionals involved in the journey, travel arrangements for the gestational carrier, and overall support throughout the entire surrogacy journey.
Screening & Support for the Surrogate
Often included in an agency’s fees, screening potential surrogates is a vital step that helps ensure intended parents are matched with a healthy and committed surrogate who aligns with their values and can successfully carry a baby to term.
All surrogates should be screened medically, psychologically, and emotionally to ensure they are ready for the commitment, have a positive support system, and understand what the process involves. If paid separately, the cost of screening can be up to $4,000, but it’s worth every penny.
Cost of the Surrogate
While many surrogates choose to embark on this journey out of the goodness of their hearts, there is, of course, also compensation involved. The total cost of a surrogate, including base compensation, can range from $50,000 to $60,000 and covers:
Base compensation: $30,000-$40,000 ($40,000-$45,000 for California surrogates); experienced surrogates can earn an additional $5,000+ for each surrogacy journey.
Personal and home care payments: Monthly payments for surrogate spending, maternity clothes, and housekeeping.
Child care, travel, and lost wages: Includes travel for screening and embryo transfer, mileage reimbursement, cost of child care or lost wages, and the lost wages of the surrogate’s travel companion.
Fourth-trimester (post-birth) care: Flex spending, lost wages or child care during recovery, meals, reimbursement for breast pumping supplies, and payments for breast milk pumping.
Other costs may be incurred in specific cases, such as if bed rest is needed, if the pregnancy includes multiples, or if a C-section is necessary.
As you can imagine, the surrogacy process is complex and requires reproductive lawyers with the expertise to accurately interpret an evolving area of law that varies from state to state—or even county to county. One lawyer helps the hopeful parents navigate their state laws (or country laws) as well as the carrier’s state laws and makes certain that the surrogacy agreement is legally secure. The intended parents will also pay for the surrogate’s legal representation, which makes sure that all looks good on the carrier’s end.
Legal fees can range from $5,000 to $15,000 per lawyer, and not all agencies include them in their fees, so be sure to review what’s covered by each agency in their fees prior to moving forward.
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This may come as a surprise, but since intended parents are responsible for all of the surrogate’s medical expenses, those in the U.S. are required to pay for maternity insurance that covers all pregnancy-related appointments and medical care. After the birth, the baby immediately becomes covered by the intended parents’ insurance.
Intended parents will also purchase life insurance for their surrogate, which may include complications insurance for the carrier. While it’s an added cost, it does provide some level of comfort knowing you’re covered if anything goes wrong.
Journey Protection Guarantee Program
While all of this can seem like a lot, agencies like Circle Surrogacy understand that the cost of surrogacy can seem out of reach for many families, which is why they offer an all-inclusive Surrogacy Cost program designed to provide financial security for intended parents and eliminate surprise costs during the journey.
Circle’s program even includes a Journey Protection Guarantee, which is a financial protection plan that helps to manage the cost of surrogacy. This plan offers several benefits such as: covering all surrogate fees and expenses for unlimited transfers and any complications that may arise during the surrogacy journey and guaranteeing no surprise costs or invoices during the journey, even if intended parents need to rematch with a new surrogate. Perhaps most important is that Circle will refund 100% of your agency fee if you run out of embryos or do not bring home a baby.
Remember, every surrogacy journey is unique, and the total cost can vary. Each agency also structures its cost programs differently, so be sure to look at the detailed lines of what each agency includes in its costs before making a decision. Thankfully, with the help of a reputable full-service agency like Circle, the process can be made more affordable and manageable, allowing you to focus on what’s most important: creating your dream family.