Surrogacy costs gay men, on average, around $135,000, but expenses can easily stretch upwards of $200,000 depending on your unique set of circumstances. Below, you'll see a complete breakdown of the costs associated with each of the main components of surrogacy and IVF — along with some ways you can plan for and offset surrogacy costs, to make your journey as affordable as possible.
The first main cost to consider is your surrogacy agency fee, which experts say generally range from $35,000 to $55,000. The agency fees refer to the professional costs associated with the coordination of your journey, legal work, social work screening, and the surrogate matching process. This includes all the associated services of the journey itself. Reputable agencies will ensure these costs are transparent and accessible — including a timeline of when certain expenses are expected to be paid.
Most reputable surrogacy agencies will include the following services as a part of your surrogacy fee. Some surrogacy agencies will have professionals in house to handle all of these services. Others will work with you to contract with outside professionals to built the team you need to complete your journey.
Your surrogacy agency will help you find and match with a surrogate. Though fairly rare, your first or even second surrogate match may fall through — the agency fee will likely include the costs of rematching with a surrogate it needed.
A successful surrogacy journey is dependent on effective communication between your surrogacy agency and the rest of your surrogacy team — including the IVF clinic that will help create your embryos and surrogate pregnancy. Your IVF clinic will set up a schedule to track your surrogate's cycle — but your agency will be responsible for setting up local monitoring and arranging for travel when needed. A reputable surrogacy agency will provide you with a case worker who will help guide you throughout your journey.
Your surrogacy agency fee will cover all the costs of the needed legal work — including the contracts with your surrogate and egg donor, and ensuring your parenting rights are established and secured by the end of your journey. International intended parents will also need to secure a home country lawyer — and your surrogacy agency can help you arrange that professional as well.
Insurance costs are separate from your agency costs (see below) but your surrogacy agency will help your coordinate and secure all needed coverage. Your surrogate's insurance may or may not cover her surrogate pregnancy, for instance. International intended parents will also need to obtain insurance for their newborn. Insurance will also need to be secured for your egg donor.
Your surrogate will undergo extensive medical screenings with your IVF clinic — but your surrogacy agency will conduct certain non-medical screenings, as well, that are a part of your agency fee. These include criminal and financial background checks and a psychological screening.
Making sure all your bills are paid in a timely manner is an important part of your surrogacy journey — the costs of these accounting services are covered as a part of your agency fee as well. Your surrogacy agency will manage your money as part of an escrow account. The money you deposit into this account will be used to pay your surrogate, medical bills, legal expenses and other costs as they arise.
The main fees incurred at your fertility clinic will be those associated with screening your egg donor, surrogate, and you, as the intended father. You will also incur costs during the embryo creation and transfer processes. However, there is a lot of variability in costs that can occur at your fertility clinic, depending on your unique set of circumstances.
Most reputable fertility clinics will include the following services as a part of your fertility clinic fee.
Your gestational carrier will be thoroughly screened by your fertility clinic — per guidelines set forth by the FDA and the ASRM — to ensure she is a good match to carry your child. These services should be included as part of your fertility clinic fee. Your surrogate, and her partner if she has one, will need to undergo a urine, drug and toxicology screening. Additional screenings include: pre-pregnancy blood work, vaccination updates, prenatal vitamin usage, drugs and alcohol screening, uterine cavity assessment, and reviews of previous pregnancies.
Your egg donor will need to undergo screenings — per guidelines set by the FDA and the ASRM — which will be covered by the costs of your fertility clinic fees. These screening include test for recessive genes that may cause certain diseases. She will also need to undergo a urine, drug and toxicology screening, and a physical exam to asses her overall health. She will also undergo a mental health evaluation and an independent counseling session to ensure she is aware of some of the rare risks associated with being an egg donor. Given all these screenings, one way to reduce your overall costs is to work with an egg donor that your fertility clinic has already screened and worked with before.
Intended fathers using IVF and surrogacy to become dads exist within a special category of FDA regulations. Because your genetic material will be used and transferred to a gestational carrier, the sperm provider — despite being the intended father — is considered a "donor" under FDA regulations. As a result, you will need to undergo several screenings, including bloodwork submitted to an FDA-approved laboratory, a physical exam, and a recessive carrier screening for genes that cause certain diseases. Your fertility clinic will help coordinate all of these screenings. Additionally, all sperm providers will undergo a semen analysis to test for fertility — and they work with you to confront any issues that arise. If you are partnered, and you both hope to contribute sperm, that will increase your costs since you will both need to undergo the screening and embryo creation process.
After you've matched with an egg donor, your fertility clinic will give your donor fertility medication to induce her to develop eggs — which she will then donate to you. Your clinic will then fertilize the eggs with your sperm (and your partner's, if you have one) to create embryos. Your fertility clinic will then observe the embryos as they grow — and then freeze (or cryopreserve) viable embryos which will be transferred to your surrogate, once she has been screened and is ready for the embryo transfer. Also be aware that if you transfer more than one embryo, you will increase the likelihood of a twin pregnancy — which will also increase your costs.
Though not required, you will also have the option to request your clinic perform preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) on your embryos, prior to transferring them. The PGT test can help you determine which of your embryos has the highest chance of resulting in a successful pregnancy. This screening can also help your detect any chromosomal abnormalities that can lead to conditions such as Down’s Syndrome, as well as determine the sex of your embryos.
The fertility clinic will oversee the monitoring of your surrogate, once she is successfully pregnant, for up to 10 weeks. If your surrogate is located in a different state than your fertility clinic, as is often the case, your IVF professionals will work with a clinic local to your surrogate, who will then send the results to your clinic.
The most expensive aspect of your surrogacy journey will related to your gestational carrier costs and egg donor costs. Your surrogate and egg donor will be providing you with their time, energy — and, most importantly, their bodies and genetic material — and will need to be compensated appropriately for doing so. But beyond the base compensation your surrogate and egg donor will earn, there are additional costs you should be prepared to pay for.
In a compensated surrogacy arrangement, you will pay your gestational carrier for carrying your baby for you. Your contract with her will include a base compensation fee — which will usually be around $35,000 for a first-time surrogate. If you decide to use an "experienced" surrogate who has successfully carried and delivered for intended parents before, your surrogate compensation will be a bit more, extending closer to $45,000. There are additional fees, however, beyond your surrogate's base costs that you will be responsible for. You will also need to pay your surrogate compensation for any wages she might lose as a result of being your surrogate — but a reputable agency will include a cap on these expenses. Additional expenses may include fees for housekeeping and childcare, and even pet care while she's traveling, or unable to care for these things herself — but these fees should also have caps. Your surrogate's fee will also be dependent on where she lives — those living in certain geographic areas, particularly those with higher costs of living, will earn a higher fee. First time surrogates in states like California and New York, for instance, can cost as much as $55,000.
The compensation range you can expect to pay for an egg donor will be between $8,000 to $20,000, or even more, depending on several factors. How much this ends up costing you will depend on your unique preferences — and how specific they are. It may increase your costs, for instance, if you hope to find an egg donor with a certain educational background, race, ethnicity, or religion. If you choose to work with an "experienced" or "proven" egg donor — somebody whose egg or eggs have led to successful births in previous surrogacy journies — this will also increase your costs. Egg donors in certain geographic areas may also cost more.
You will also need to cover these costs for your egg donor and surrogate if and when they might need to travel for appointments and screenings. Picking a donor or surrogate that is local to your fertility clinic is one way to cut down on these costs — though this might also increase your wait time to find a gestational carrier.
A reasonable amount to expect in legal fees is around $10,000 — but this may vary depending on your circumstance. You will also need to cover the legal fees for drafting contracts between you and your gestational carrier and egg donor. You will need to pay a fee for the lawyer who drafts these agreements, as well as for the lawyer who reviews these agreements on behalf of your surrogate and egg donor. You will ideally obtain a "pre-birth order" as part of your surrogacy journey — which will establish you and your partner, if applicable, as the legal parents prior to the birth of your baby — and you will need to pay a fee to cover this legal process as well. If you are located outside of the United States, you will also need to retain the services of a home-country lawyer (which your surrogacy agency should help you find.)
There are number of problems that might arise during your journey that could also increase the costs you will need to cover for your surrogate and egg donor. Your surrogate, for example, may need to be put on bed risk — which is a risk of any pregnancy, though one that can often be mitigated during the surrogate screening process. If this arises, you will need to cover her lost wages during this time. Though extremely rare, your surrogate or egg donor may experience damage to or loss of reproductive organs — your contract will include a contingency fee you will need to pay in this instance. Again, your contract with your surrogate and egg donor should be detailed, covering all of these eventualities — and the maximum you will need to pay in the event they arise.
Insurance will be critical to your surrogacy journey, but policies around surrogacy insurance are complicated and constantly changing. Your surrogacy team will help coordinate all insurance needs — so be sure to check in with your professionals to make sure you have the most up-to-date insurance information possible.
It's extremely important that you have a firm understanding of your surrogate's insurance policy prior to matching with her — as this may be the most variable factor in your overall costs. A surrogate’s own insurance policy may cover the costs of her pregnancy, which can help cut down the costs of your overall journey. However, other insurance companies will not cover the medical costs of a surrogate pregnancy. Your surrogacy agency will check your surrogate's insurance policy during the screening process to see whether or not her surrogate pregnancy is covered. If it is, your surrogacy agency will help you understand her plan's co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums, and deductible so you have a good understanding of the expenses you will be responsible for with respect to her medical care. You may also be able to keep costs down if you're able to complete your journey within a year — thus likely meeting her plan's deductible and out-of-pocket maximum. Other insurance providers, however, may have exclusions in place that will prevent your surrogate from accessing coverage for her surrogate pregnancy — meaning you will be required to cover all medical costs.
Additionally, there are optional but recommended insurance polices you can take out to cover certain potential, though rare, costs that might arise during your surrogate's pregnancy — such as those covering lost wages if she's put on bed rest, accidental death, hospital indemnities, and loss of organs. Whether or not you choose to buy these insurance plans will depend on how much risk you are willing to assume.
Unlike your surrogate, no current insurance policies in the United States will cover the medical costs for your egg donor. So you will need to make sure you have an egg donor insurance policy in place. This policy will cover any complications that might arise during the egg donation process — the most common being over-stimulation during fertility treatments, resulting in the hospitalization of your donor.
For intended parents located outside of the United States, you will also need to secure insurance for your infant once born. (Intended parents located inside the United States can simply add their baby to their own insurance plans once born.) Your legal team will ensure that you are the legal guardian of your child by the time your baby is born — meaning you will be responsible for all of your baby's medical costs.
Hopefully, our breakdown of surrogacy costs above has helped you comprehend why a surrogacy journey is so expensive — but simply understanding the costs of surrogacy doesn't make it any more affordable! Fortunately, with a bit of planning and effort, there are several ways you can make your surrogacy journey more affordable, each of which we'll review below.
Your surrogacy journey may end up costing you anywhere from $135,00 to $200,000, but the good news is you won't be paying this entire sum upfront. You can break your journey into several steps, which can help you spread out the costs over the course of several years. For instance, you can first pay the costs associated with freezing your sperm and recessive gene testing at your fertility clinic. You can then return to your clinic once you've saved enough money to pay to match with an egg donor and create embryos. From there, you can keep your embryos cryopreserved until you are financially prepared to afford the costs of matching with a surrogate and conducting an embryo transfer.
Unfortunately, most employers do not currently offer benefits to gay men who create their families through surrogacy and IVF — but thanks to ongoing advocacy efforts, that is slowly starting to change. Many organizations have started to offer some financial benefits to gay men pursuing surrogacy and IVF as their path to parenthood. These include high-profile companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft Amazon, and Unilever. Be sure to check in with your company's human resources department to see what coverage, if any, they provide for fertility treatments for gay men. If they provide no coverage, it may be worth some effort to educate your company on why they should consider offering fertility coverage to gay men hoping to become dads, particularly if your company does provide some benefits to single women or heterosexual couples. It's possible you may be the first gay man to inquire — and your company may be open to revising their policies to be more inclusive. Still, it's important to remember that none of these existing policies will be used to compensate your surrogate or donor — just the costs associated with their respective medical care. These are costs you will still need to be prepared to cover.
You can also finance part of your journey through loans — by using part of your retirement savings, for instance, or using lenders like Prosper Healthcare Lending, which provide high-dollar installment loans (ranging from $5,000 to $100,000) to gay men with good credit. You should also look into the Gay Parenting Assistance Program at Men Having Babies — which provides discounted or free services to gay men interested in forming their family through surrogacy, donated by IVF and surrogacy professionals across the country.
Many gay men have family members or close friends who are willing to help them on their journey in some way — either by donating her eggs for free (a known donor) or serving as your gestational carrier without compensation (an altruistic surrogate). Either or both of these options can help you cut the costs of your surrogacy journey substantially.
Many gay men have also successfully used crowd-funding sites like GoFundMe.com to finance part of their surrogacy journey. It may feel awkward to ask friends and family to help you start your family, but often you'll be surprised by just how eager your community will be to support your dreams by pitching in to make it happen.