Surrogacy can cost upwards of $150,000 - here are the hidden costs to save for

Surrogacy cost
Surrogacy can cost upwards of $100,000 depending on the practice. Luxy Images/ Getty Images
  • The cost of using a surrogate ranges between $100,00 to $150,000 or more.

  • These costs include the medical, legal, and insurance fees that come with contracting a surrogate.

  • Costs vary depending on the practice, and also on how many tries it takes to conceive.

  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

Surrogacy is an option for people who can't, or would prefer not to, carry a pregnancy themselves. However, it is an expensive process.

"Costs can range from $100,000 to $150,000 or more, depending on multiple factors," says Amanda Kallen, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at Yale Fertility Center.

According to Kallen, costs can vary by agency, surrogate, number of fertility cycles, the lawyer you have, and even the state you or the surrogate are in. "For example, legal fees can differ from state to state, and in states where surrogates are in high demand, costs can be higher," says Kallen.

Here's what you need to know about the costs associated with surrogacy and how much you should save before you start on your journey.

What are the costs associated with surrogacy?

Surrogacy is expensive because, apart from the cost of the pregnancy, there are several other factors to consider. Kallen shares a breakdown of the costs involved:

Agency fees: $15,000 to $30,000

Agencies help people identify and connect with surrogates. If both parties are agreeable, the agency helps them negotiate the terms of the surrogacy and sign legal agreements.

Agencies also provide other services, like:

  • Screening surrogates, egg and sperm donors, and intended parents for medical, psychological, financial, and criminal history

  • Advertising, to help the intended parents find donors and surrogates

  • Counseling and education for surrogates and intended parents, to help them understand the process and cope with it emotionally

  • Insurance verification and advisory, to help the intended parents determine whether the surrogate's insurance plan will cover some of the medical costs involved, and if it doesn't, to help the intended parents find an appropriate insurance plan for the surrogate

Surrogate fees: $30,000 to $50,000

These costs are the compensation paid to the surrogate for:

  • Undergoing tests and fertility treatments

  • Carrying and delivering the child

  • Undertaking the medical risks involved

  • Putting themselves through the physical and emotional journey surrogacy and pregnancy involve

The fee can be higher in the event of multiple pregnancies (like twins or triplets) or if cesarean delivery is required.

Fertility clinic and in-vitro fertilization costs: $12,000 to $30,000

The fertility clinic costs can depend on the type of surrogacy you opt for and the fertility procedures it involves.

There are two types of surrogacy:

  • Traditional surrogacy: This type of surrogacy involves using the surrogate's own egg. Historically, this was the only type of surrogacy possible, before in-vitro fertilization techniques were developed. Today, traditional surrogacy is less common, because in this case the surrogate is also a biological parent to the child, leading to ethical and legal complications.

  • Gestational surrogacy: This type of surrogacy is by far the most common approach to surrogacy. In this case, a fertilized embryo is implanted into the surrogate's womb after she has received hormonal treatment to prepare her body. The egg and sperm come from the parents-to-be or from unrelated donors, so the surrogate is not biologically related to the child.

If you're opting for a traditional surrogacy that uses the surrogate's egg, you will need to use an artificial insemination procedure to fertilize the egg.

If, on the other hand, you are opting for a gestational surrogacy, eggs are harvested from a donor or intended parent, and fertilized in a laboratory. The embryo is then inserted into the surrogate's womb. If this process isn't successful, the cycle may have to be repeated again.

How surrogacy works: In-vitro fertilization occurs in the laboratory, rather than within the womb. Mature eggs are collected from a person with ovaries and fertilized with sperm, to form embryos, which can then be implanted in the womb of the parent or surrogate. Depending on the circumstances, the sperm and egg may be from the intended parents, or from sperm or egg donors. For instance, same-sex couples or people with fertility issues may need a donor.

"These costs can be quite variable and could be more depending on the number of cycles," says Kallen.

A cycle could cost $11,000, although subsequent cycles could be cheaper, if you freeze embryos for future tries. The medication required during the in-vitro fertilization process could also cost anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000.

Legal fees: Approximately $10,000

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, surrogacy involves several psychological, ethical, and legal complexities.

For instance, in the case of traditional surrogacies, the surrogate is also a biological parent to the child. In gestational surrogacies, one of the intended parents may be a biological parent to the child and the other may not.

It is typically required that the surrogate and each of the intended parents get their own legal counsel before signing a contract, and the intended parents typically pay for everyone's legal expenses.

Surrogate insurance: Approximately $25,000

While insurance companies typically cover the medical costs of pregnancy and delivery, some companies do not cover the cost of a surrogate pregnancy. If the surrogate's insurance plan will not cover the medical costs of the pregnancy, the intended parents will usually have to pay for an insurance plan for the surrogate.

Pregnancy cost: $10,000 to $30,000

The cost of having a baby in the US can vary, depending on factors like location, whether the birth is a vaginal birth or a cesarean birth, and whether there are any other complications involved. If there are any medical issues during the pregnancy or delivery, those costs are added to the expenses. According to Kallen, there may also be other miscellaneous costs involved.

Other costs: Variable

  • Travel and lodging costs for the surrogate or the intended parents

  • Supplies like maternal clothing, etc.

  • Compensation to the surrogate for lost wages during pregnancy

Kallen says you can save on agency costs and surrogate fees if your surrogate is a friend or family member who is willing to participate in the process. These are sometimes referred to as compassionate surrogacy agreements, where the surrogate agrees to carry the child without any fee. The intended parents would still have to pay for the other costs, but could potentially save up to $50,000.

How to finance a surrogacy

Some parts of the surrogacy process may be covered by insurance, although full coverage is rare, says Kallen.

"Depending on the state, certain aspects could be covered - for example, an egg retrieval procedure, or the surrogate's pregnancy insurance costs," she says.

Important: Adoption and fostering are alternatives to surrogacy. Kallen says it can cost around $40,000 to adopt a child; while it's still pretty expensive, it's more affordable than surrogacy and it can help provide a stable home for a child who needs it.

Some surrogacy agencies also offer financing options like loans or payment plans to the intended parents, to help them afford surrogacy.

Many surrogacy agencies and fertility centers have financial consultants who can help you estimate the costs of the process, calculate how much of the cost will be covered by your insurance, and help you plan your finances, to determine whether it's affordable.

It's important to remember that the costs of surrogacy can vary considerably; for instance, the number of in-vitro fertilization cycles required before the pregnancy is successful can have a considerable impact on the total cost. Before you begin the process, you would have to determine how many tries you are able to afford.

Insider's takeaway

Surrogacy is a process that can help you have a baby; however, it comes with considerable costs, ranging from $100,000 to $150,000 or more. Asking a friend or family member to be your surrogate can help you cut down on some of the costs.

Many people have to save up for a few years to be able to afford surrogacy. If you can save $100,000 before you get started, you may be able to cover almost the entire cost of the surrogacy without assistance, or at least a significant part of it, depending on how much the total works out to.

However, you should also explore your financial options before you commence, so that you know what your options are in case the total cost is higher. Some surrogacies can cost up to $300,000 and while some costs may be in your control, like the choice of agency, others, like medical complications, may not be.

If surrogacy is too expensive, adoption and fostering children is another option that you might consider.

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