How Can I Afford Surrogacy?
Growing your family through surrogacy is a monumental emotional – and financial – journey. It’s understandable that one of the first questions intended parents have when exploring surrogacy is “How much does surrogacy cost?” Surrogacy is a rewarding experience for everyone involved, but it can be expensive.
For most people, covering the costs of surrogacy requires planning and organization. Like your surrogacy journey itself, how you save for and afford surrogacy is personal and unique to you. Read on to learn more about the cost of surrogacy in the US, a breakdown of surrogate costs, and our tips for how to make the financial aspect of your surrogacy journey go smoothly.
How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?
The United States is the safest and most secure country in which you can do surrogacy. The laws, advanced medical care, and reputable surrogacy agencies make the US a great place to grow your family through third-party reproduction. In the United States, typical surrogacy costs can range between $100,000-$200,000 (exclusive of IVF), depending on the services you require. A surrogacy journey in which you only require a gestational carrier (you are using your own eggs or you already have embryos created), will be less expensive than a surrogacy journey that requires an egg donor.
There are 4 categories of costs for your surrogacy journey:
Professional Fees (including legal fees)
Gestational Carrier (i.e., surrogate) and Egg Donor Fees
Medical & Insurance Expenses
Surrogacy costs can vary depending on the type of surrogacy program you choose. Some surrogacy programs are more comprehensive, and include services such as legal services and escrow management. Other surrogacy programs for intended parents are more a la carte: intended parents can select the services they require for their journey to customize a program. The surrogacy program you select will depend on your specific needs for your journey, and how much of the journey you want to manage yourself vs. having a surrogacy agency manage every step. Plus, most surrogacy agency costs do not include IVF services which are usually paid directly to the IVF clinic.
If you work with a surrogacy agency, your surrogacy costs will also include an agency fee. The agency fee cost varies by agency, as well as what’s covered within it. Some agencies include just the professional management of your journey, while others include the management of the journey plus legal support. Be sure to read the details closely, especially when comparing surrogacy costs between agencies.
Agency fees vary, but larger, full-service agency fees usually cover:
All personal matching services with your surrogate (and your donor, if you use one)
Coordination of your entire journey with clinics, hospitals and professionals, so intended parents do not need to worry about what they need to do next and instead can focus on enjoying the journey, building a relationship with their surrogate and anticipating the arrival of their baby
Support and counseling throughout the journey (including licensed social workers on staff)
Guidance for parents preparing for baby’s delivery and coordination with the hospital
Post-birth return-to-home travel preparations with intended parents, and post-birth communications and check-ins
When speaking with different surrogacy agencies, intended parents should ask them to provide detailed cost sheets so they can better understand what’s included in the costs of their surrogacy journey, and what may be considered an “extra” or variable cost.
How Much Does a Surrogate Cost?
The largest portion of your surrogacy costs (over 40% of the total) is the payments for your surrogate. A surrogate can cost anywhere from $50,000-$60,000 or more in total. Surrogates are paid an average base fee of $30,000-$45,000 for a first journey. In addition to a base fee, surrogate pay includes:
Monthly surrogate spending
Childcare, travel and lost wages
Payments for as-needed events such as bed rest, C-sections, or multiples
Why Are Surrogacy Costs Expensive?
The costs for gestational surrogacy are significant because there are so many professionals involved at each step of the process, including IVF, legal, accounting and social work professionals. Plus, costs include the care and attention the surrogate requires through pregnancy and childbirth, as well as the need for management of the entire journey from start to finish. Surrogacy agency employees are experienced in surrogacy journeys, so they understand what’s needed at each step, how to work with IVF clinics, how to manage the intended parents’ escrow account and the legal necessities to protect the intended parents.
How To Afford Surrogacy
As intended parents begin to gather information about the different surrogacy costs – and determine whether or not they want to use a surrogacy agency – the question becomes: How can I afford surrogacy?
Most people who decide to grow their family through surrogacy have been preparing for the costs for years. One intended parent shared, “I always knew I wanted this, so I started saving, little by little. It became a priority for me. It was like saving for a car or a house.”
So how exactly does one go about preparing for the costs of surrogacy? Below are a few different ways that intended parents can help afford these costs. Remember, no two journeys are the same, and no two intended parents are the same. What works for one set of intended parents may not be the best option for others. Also, you can always speak with a surrogacy agency about preparing for the costs of surrogacy.
6 Ways To Help Cover the Costs of Surrogacy
Here are ideas to help intended parents think about planning for surrogacy costs:
Share your story with others. Surrogacy is the ultimate example of people helping people. By being open about your intent to pursue surrogacy with others, you may gain the support of family and friends. In some cases, family members of intended parents have contributed to help with some of the surrogacy expenses. But even if friends and family can’t assist you financially, counting on the emotional support and encouragement of the people who matter to you most can make your journey to parenthood through surrogacy much easier.
Start putting funds aside. Consider setting aside money over time. Most intended parents come to an agency after a period of careful thought and research. Every little bit helps. Some intended parents pay themselves a “surrogacy payment” monthly as a means of saving money. The earlier you can start, the more you’ll save over time.
Remember you can influence the overall costs. While the surrogacy journey can be unpredictable, remember that the preferences you express and the choices you make can affect your overall expenses, including the IVF clinic you work with and whether your surrogate is insured or uninsured. You can also look into various surrogacy programs to see which is right for you.
Consider your financing options. You may be able to obtain loans from banks or lending agencies to help you cover the costs. Many intended parents look into home equity loans as an option to pay back a portion of their expenses over time. Others investigate taking out a second mortgage or their 401K. Because the medical fees associated with IVF cycles are a significant portion of total expenses, many intended parents investigate the possibility of secured or unsecured loans from medical financing companies.
Evaluate all of your insurance options. There are a variety of insurance options available to cover the medical costs of surrogacy, so make sure you take time to look into which is right for you. Check with the Human Resources department at your employer to see if any infertility and third-party reproduction costs are covered by your insurance plan. Be sure to ask for information about deductibles, enrollment fees, premiums, and out-of-pocket maximums.
Look into different fertility clinic options. Talk to more than one IVF center/fertility clinic. Most offer a variety of packages, so you can see which package best suits your needs. Consider options like the Unlimited IVF Plan offered by Circle Surrogacy and Pacific Fertility Center – Los Angeles which allows you unlimited embryo transfers until a pregnancy is achieved.
How To Reduce Your Surrogacy Costs
In addition to finding ways to help cover the costs of surrogacy, intended parents can explore options to reduce their overall surrogacy costs.
Ask someone you know to be your surrogate.
Intended parents may have a family member or friend who wishes to be their gestational carrier. Not having an agency find a surrogate for you can reduce your agency fees, save time, and provide an immediate comfort level between the intended parents and their gestational carrier.
Though engaging in a parenting journey with a family member or a close friend might reduce surrogacy costs, it can also bring on an added layer of complexity to the process. If you do wish to have a family member or friend as your surrogate, you should still speak with an agency about putting a formal contract into place, and ensuring that your surrogate has the proper screening for the IVF clinics.
Ask a friend or family member to donate their eggs.
Another option that the intended parents have is to seek donated eggs from a family member. An example would be a gay couple where one of the men has a sister. They may be able to decide together that the sister will donate an egg that can then be fertilized by the partner's sperm, resulting in a child related to both parents.
Weigh the pros and cons of an independent journey vs. a surrogacy agency.
Some parents choose to do an independent surrogacy journey, which means they choose to not work with (and pay for) a surrogacy agency to manage their journey, find their surrogate, coordinate with their clinic and hospital, and ensure all payments to all parties are made in a timely manner. For an independent journey, intended parents will find their own surrogate mother, coordinate with their IVF clinic, manage timelines and source their own surrogacy lawyer. This can sometimes be a more cost-efficient option for intended parents.
To help plan for your parenting journey, some agencies—like Circle Surrogacy—will offer you a fixed-cost pricing option, so that you don’t have to worry about variable costs or surprise or hidden expenses popping up in your journey.
The fixed cost helps intended parents prepare for their journey by enabling them to know the cost upfront so that they can properly plan. Circle Surrogacy's fixed cost option is called the Journey Guarantee Program. It provides a refund of 100% of our agency fee if you have no embryos remaining and do not bring home a baby.
If you’re thinking about surrogacy to build your family and would like to speak to someone about costs, please email us.
If you’re ready to take the first step and meet with us, use this form.
Written by: Kristin Marsoli
Kristin joined Circle in 2017 as Marketing Director. Prior to this role, Kristin worked at advertising and marketing agencies creating successful brand, digital and social campaigns for clients. Her personal experience brought her to Circle: Kristin and her husband are proud parents to their son thanks to Circle Surrogacy. Having been through the process, Kristin brings an experienced perspective to all of Circle's digital and social marketing, and is excited to use her marketing expertise for something for which she has so much passion.