There's no way around it — surrogacy is expensive. Here's a breakdown of the costs, and some ways to make your journey more affordable.
“It is in my opinion the one and only drawback of gestational surrogacy: the cost,” said Victoria T. Ferrara, Founder and Legal Director of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists. Most experts agree that surrogacy costs, on average, around $135,000 — but it can easily stretch upwards of $200,000 depending on your unique situation and requirements. Given this variability, it’s important the professionals you’re working with are very transparent about the costs involved in the process.
There are four main areas that impact costs:
Agency fees: $35,000 - $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,” said Sam Hyde, President and CEO of Circle Surrogacy. Reputable agencies will ensure these costs are transparent and accessible — including a timeline of when certain expenses are expected to be paid.
“Agency fees vary, to some extent, but they shouldn’t vary a lot,” said Ferrara of Worldwide Surrogacy. “The good, reputable agencies are probably in the same ballpark, offering similar services for similar agency fees.”
IVF clinic: $25,000 - $50,000
The main fees incurred at your fertility clinic will be those associated with screening your egg donor, surrogate, and you — as well as those incurred during the embryo creation and transfer processes. There is a lot of variability in costs that can occur, however, depending on your unique set of circumstances.
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. With two sperm sources to consider, you may want to consider working with a “proven” donor to help increase the odds that you will end up with a high number of quality eggs. “That means she’s had a pregnancy result from a donation before,” said Kristen Hanson, Co-Owner and Director of Finance and Legal at Simple Surrogacy. “At the very least, you might want to choose an experienced donor, which means you will know exactly how her body will react to the egg donation medications, and we’ve seen before how many eggs are generally retrieved from her cycle.”
Another factor that can increase costs is the number of embryos you plan to transfer at one time. If you transfer more than one, you will increase the likelihood of a twin pregnancy. “It’s a huge factor to the surrogacy costs if you achieve a twin pregnancy,” said Hanson. Carrying multiples will increase the number of doctors appointments, specialists involved, and the likelihood of needing to cover lost wages for your surrogate on account of bedrest.
The number of embryo transfers required before your surrogate achieves pregnancy can also impact costs. Though most surrogates successfully achieve pregnancy within one to two attempts, not all are so lucky, and additional cycles may increase your costs. “You have to pay for medication for your surrogate for each cycle,” said Hanson.
Gestational carrier and egg donor: $60,000 to $80,000
These costs include the compensation to gestational carriers and egg donors, any needed travel costs, and any contingency fees that might arise — like bedrest or a c-section. “Other things that go into this amount are legal expenses, which are charged separately from the agency fee,” said Ferrara of Worldwide Surrogacy, who estimates these costs around $8,000-$10,000 if all goes well. “That would include the contract with the surrogate, her lawyer to review it, the pre-birth order, and an egg donation agreement.”
The location of your surrogate, donor and clinic will also impact your overall costs. “Your surrogate and egg donor will go to your clinic at least twice,” said Hanson. “Once for the medical screening, and then again, after the legal process is complete prior to transfer.” Surrogates will typically need to stay in the same city as your clinic at least overnight, and maybe up to two to three days. Egg donors are typically required to stay nearby for five to 10 days, depending on how quickly their bodies mature eggs for retrieval. If your surrogate and donor don’t live nearby your clinic, you will need to cover their travel costs and hotel stays.
Insurance: $15,000 to $30,000
You will also need to make sure both your surrogate and egg donor have insurance. Sometimes, a surrogate’s own insurance policy will cover her pregnancy, but increasingly they will not. “A lot of insurances are catching on to the fact that surrogates are doing compensated surrogacy, and they’re putting in exclusions,” said Hanson of Simple Surrogacy. “So you should ensure the agency you’ve hired does a thorough review of the surrogate’s insurance.”
You will also need to pay for insurance for egg donors, who aren’t allowed to use their own insurance for any part of the egg donation process. International parents may have additional insurance costs to consider, because their baby will often not be covered under their own home insurance plan. “That means they will have to buy insurance for their baby or babies.”
How can I afford surrogacy?
Yes, surrogacy is expensive — but here are some suggestions for helping to put this path to parenthood within your reach:
Break your journey into pieces: You don’t have to pay for your entire journey upfront, which allows you to approach and pay for your surrogacy process piece by piece. For instance, you can consider first identifying an egg donor and creating embryos with the aid of a fertility clinic, and cryopreserve them for future use — when you are financially ready to undertake the rest of the process.
Loans: There are also a number of loans available for intended parents. “There are a couple of financing options in the field that provide parents loans between $20,000 and $65,000 that you can pay over the course of 3 to 6 years," said Hyde of Circle Surrogacy.
Employer assisted benefits: Increasingly, employers are covering certain elements of a surrogacy journey for their employees. This may pertain to costs associated with IVF, agency fees, or even some of the insurance as a way to provide family planning assistance to LGBTQ people.
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