How Much Does a Surrogate Mother Cost?

Last Updated on May 8, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Surrogacy arrangement provides an alternative path to parenthood for intended parents unable to conceive or safely carry a pregnancy themselves. But what’s the full scope of expenses associated with retaining the vital services of a gestational or traditional surrogate?

This guide examines in detail the cost factors in surrogacy, provides price range considerations, and outlines budgeting strategies to allow intended parents to financially plan for the complex but rewarding process of building a family through surrogacy. Let’s start by examining the role of a surrogate.

How Much Does a Surrogate Mother Cost?

The average total cost of completing a surrogacy journey in the U.S. typically ranges from $90,000 on the low end up to $130,000 or more when utilizing the comprehensive support and coordination services of an established domestic surrogacy agency.

The major costs involved comprise agency fees, legal counsel retainers, fertility medical expenses, insurance premiums or reimbursement gaps, and compensation for the surrogate.

However, significant cost variability exists based heavily on the type of surrogacy, agency versus independent arrangements, insurance coverage, fertility services required, and overall feature preferences.

Expect prices between:

  • $90,000 to $130,000+ – Utilizing a longstanding, full-service domestic surrogacy agency to manage the intricate process.
  • $40,000 to $100,000+ – Pursuing a more independent process with separate legal, medical, and surrogate arrangements in the parents’ home state.
  • $30,000 to $60,000 – Entering less costly international surrogacy agreements prohibiting in some locations. Significant legal and travel costs still apply.

These wide-ranging price points stem from the various major fees involved in surrogacy covered next. Each component varies dramatically based on circumstances.

The West Coast Surrogacy website estimates the average cost of surrogacy for intended parents to range from $190,000 to $230,000, depending on the individual arrangements. The article outlines the various factors that contribute to the overall cost, including agency fees, surrogate screening, compensation, legal fees, and medical expenses.

The Today Show article reports that the total cost of surrogacy can range from $125,000 to $175,000, including agency fees, legal fees, insurance, and other expenses. The article provides a detailed breakdown of the different cost components, such as agency fees ($15,000 to $30,000), surrogate fees ($30,000 to $60,000), legal fees ($5,000 to $15,000), and additional costs for embryo creation, egg donation, and in vitro fertilization.

The Circle Surrogacy website states that a typical surrogacy journey can have costs ranging from $100,000 to upwards of $200,000, with the actual cost depending on the specific circumstances of the intended parents.

Overview of the Types of Surrogacy

There exist two main types of surrogacy arrangements, each with important implications:

Traditional Surrogacy

In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides her own eggs for fertilization, making her the biological mother. Fertilization is accomplished either through intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm.

Gestational Surrogacy

With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate carries the pregnancy but has no biological relationship to the embryo. Fertilized embryos are created via IVF using eggs and sperm from the intended parents or selected donors, then transferred to the gestational surrogate.

In both arrangements, surrogates undergo extensive medical and mental health screening to confirm fitness for safely carrying a pregnancy to term as agreed for intended parents who will take custody of the child.

Major Surrogacy Cost Components

The primary categories encompassing costs in a surrogacy journey typically include:

Surrogacy Agency Fees

  • Full service agencies charge $15,000 – $30,000+ in overall coordination fees
  • Agencies walk parents through the intricate process but at premium prices

Legal Expenses

  • Necessary attorney costs span $10,000 – $20,000+
  • Vital for drafting ironclad contracts, parentage orders, and birth certificates

Fertility Clinic Medical Bills

  • IVF cycles cost $15,000 per transfer on average, often not covered by insurance
  • Some clinics offer discounts for surrogacy arrangements or multi-cycle packages

Surrogate Compensation

  • Compensation averaging $35,000 to $50,000+ for the surrogate’s time and service
  • First time surrogates often earn less than highly experienced carriers

Insurance Policy Premiums

  • Policies ensure comprehensive medical coverage for the surrogate and newborn cost between $10,000 to $30,000+ per pregnancy

Intended parents can expect to pay for all pregnancy-related expenses in addition to legal and agency costs. Expenses for each of the above components vary tremendously based on individual arrangements.

Factors Influencing Total Surrogacy Costs

While surrogacy inherently involves major costs, several circumstances drastically impact the final total price:

Type of Surrogacy – Traditional surrogacy is sometimes up to 50%+ cheaper than gestational depending on provider fees, medical needs, and insurance gaps.

Agency Experience and Services – Top agencies charge higher fees but offer enhanced legal services, fertility networks, and support.

Geographic Location – California and northeastern states are most expensive. Texas, Arkansas, and the Midwest are most affordable locations currently.

IVF Clinic Selected – Average costs range from $12,000 – $15,000 per transfer cycle but clinics vary greatly. Research pricing.

Surrogate Compensation – Experienced, extensively screened carriers earn $40,000+ compared to newer surrogates.

Insurance Policy Details – More comprehensive insurance benefits significantly lower out-of-pocket medical fees for intended parents.

Given all the variability influencing overall costs, surrogacy pricing truly spans from the high five-figures into mid six-figures depending on circumstances. There exists no “typical” surrogacy situation.

You might also like our articles on the cost of a baby crib, baby clothes, or giving birth.

Insurance and Surrogacy

Unfortunately, health insurance coverage for surrogacy costs remains very limited at present:

  • Few provider policies cover routine maternity surrogacy costs – intended parents must pay out-of-pocket for dedicated surrogacy insurance policies.
  • Typical maternity policies cost $10,000 to $30,000+ with deductibles depending on factors like carrier, coverage terms, exclusions, and state regulations.
  • Some employee benefits plans may offer fertility supplements or discounts at partner IVF clinics to offset portions of costs.
  • But most insurance explicitly excludes surrogacy coverage currently, forcing intended parents to pay expenses.

Choosing a Reputable Surrogacy Agency

Those electing to utilize a full-service surrogacy agency should conduct diligent due diligence to look for:

  • An longstanding reputation and high surrogate match to birth success rates signaling abundant experience.
  • Meticulous surrogate vetting, preparation, and support throughout the pregnancy and post-birth transition. Psychological support should be robust.
  • Extensive guidance and hand-holding for intended parents at each milestone. An assigned case worker proves invaluable.
  • Established working relationships with high-quality fertility clinics, insurance carriers, psychological evaluators, and surrogacy-focused attorneys. Team assembly is vital.
  • In-depth expertise to help intended parents navigate the complex legal, medical, and insurance intricacies surrogacy necessitates. An agency should act as quarterback.
  • Full cost transparency and detailed breakdowns of reasonable fees for services provided. No surprises.

While agency fees reaching $20,000+ carry major costs, the enhanced support through a complex, emotional process with extensive legal implications often provides intended parents peace of mind and the highest probability of success. Yet a personality match between agency and family remains paramount.

Legal Considerations

It’s very important for intended parents to retain an attorney well-versed in assisted reproductive technology law to expertly navigate elements like:

  • Drafting an ironclad surrogacy contract clearly delineating all parameters, duties, contingencies, and individual rights of involved parties. This provides legal protection.
  • Guiding the establishment of parental rights well in advance through court-ordered pre-birth judgments and parentage orders. This avoids disputes.
  • Advising intended parents on any complex legal issues or questions that arise. An attorney should remain actively involved supporting clients each step.
  • Serving as an impartial mediator in any conflicts or boundary disputes. Attorneys can calmly diffuse emotional situations.

While adding $15,000+ in costs, properly structuring the arrangement legally reduces massive risks and liabilities down the road. Common legal fees for reputable reproductive attorneys range from $10,000 to $20,000 on average.

Financial Assistance with Surrogacy Costs

Surrogate MotherWhile clearly expensive, some options to help intended parents budget for surrogacy costs include:

  • Taking out personal bank loans, 0% credit cards, or specialized financing packages spreading payments over 12-24 months. These help break up steep upfront agency and IVF clinic costs.
  • Establishing tax-deductible crowdfunding campaigns through platforms like GoFundMe detailing one’s surrogacy journey. These enable wider family and community support.
  • Researching and applying for rare grants and financial aid programs specifically assisting with surrogate and IVF expenses. Fund availability remains limited currently.
  • Checking if employer health benefits packages include any reproductive assistance coverage that could discount portions of medications, screening, or procedures. Employers increasingly offer these enhancements.
  • Claiming applicable tax deductions for procedures, treatments, donations, and legal retainers where permissible. Tracking expenses diligently allows maximizing tax relief.

While substantial outside financial assistance for surrogacy costs remains unlikely presently, proactive planning and strategizing opens access for more intended parents.

Final Words

The surrogacy journey comprises a multifaceted blend of medical, legal, insurance, financial, and intrinsically emotional factors requiring very thoughtful research and preparation by intended parents.

And while completing a surrogacy process through comprehensive agency services, top fertility clinics, and experienced legal professionals carries steep costs likely $100,000+, the extensive support of these specialized experts greatly increases the probability of success for intended parents willing to put in the work.

For those weighing surrogacy, speaking to professionals and agencies to clearly understand costs is strongly advised to appreciate the commitments involved. While expensive, surrogacy can gift the chance to build a family when conventional options have been exhausted. The rewards outweigh the costs for many. With diligent planning and the right professional team in place, financial hurdles impacting access can slowly be overcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to find a surrogate?

There is certainly a rigorous selection process, but reputable agencies typically have a pool of pre-screened candidate options that have passed background checks and met health prerequisites to choose from.

Important criteria focuses on reproductive history, physical health, mental stability, motivation for serving as a surrogate, and maintaining positive lifestyles devoid of concerning behaviors.

The ideal matching process involves extensive mutual interviews, so while finding that perfect surrogate partner takes effort, experienced agencies streamline and guide the process through resources and expertise.

What are the risks of surrogacy?

Beyond general pregnancy risks, potential issues unique to the surrogacy process include disputes over legal parental rights, disagreements between the surrogate and intended parents on care preferences, complications requiring prolonged bedrest or early birth impacting the surrogate’s situation, miscarriages requiring re-transfer IVF cycles, and premature births resulting in extensive newborn intensive care.

Ensuring the surrogate has strong mental health support and that ironclad legal contracts are in place helps minimize conflicts.

Is a surrogate baby biologically yours?

Correct, with traditional surrogacy the surrogate is both the genetic and gestational mother. But with gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no biological relationship to the fetus at all.

The embryo transferred to the gestational carrier is created using only the egg and sperm of the intended parents or selected donors. This ensures the newborn is 100% the biological child of the individuals who will ultimately parent the baby. No DNA is shared with the gestational surrogate who simply incubates the pregnancy.

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