Here at Gay Parents To Be we’ve helped countless LGBTQ individuals and couples become parents through IVF and surrogacy. In fact, one of my favorite parts of my job is helping prospective parents understand the process. I know that it can be complicated, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with information that you find online or hear from second-hand sources.
You probably already know that creating a family as a member of the LGBTQ community isn’t easy or cheap. But I also want you to know that the struggles and financial stressors associated with this journey are more than worth it- that’s why you’re here, discovering even more information about surrogacy!
After talking with so many LGBTQ parents-to-be at family building events and over the phone, I know that one of the most confusing aspects can be determining how much surrogacy really costs, or figuring out why surrogacy for same-sex couples is so expensive. If you’re asking these questions, you’re not alone.
There are a lot of moving parts – from the agency that helps find and support the surrogate to her compensation and legal fees. In this blog, we’ll help you decode the prices and breakdown just what is (and isn’t) included in a surrogacy agency’s fees to help you understand the true costs of surrogacy.
How Much Does a Surrogacy Journey Cost?
In general, using a surrogate can cost anywhere from $119,000 to $243,000. While that estimate includes the IVF portion of baby-making, many surrogacy agencies do not include this price in their fees.
Yes, these costs are steep, but don’t freak out just yet—we’re going to break down what these fees include and which hidden costs to expect. Then, we’ll offer a few tips on how to afford it all.
Surrogacy costs can be broken into three main categories:
- IVF clinic costs ($29,000 to $43,000)
- Agency & legal fees ($22,000 to $50,000 for the agency and $3,000 to 16,500 for legal costs)
- Donor & surrogate compensation ($6,000 to $15,000 for donors and $25,000 to $76,000 for surrogates)
This blog will focus on the last two categories: agency and surrogacy compensation, which can grouped into one “bucket” of cost. This so-called bucket includes the main fees associated with surrogacy:
- Agency fees for locating and conducting preliminary screening of surrogates (also known as gestational carriers)
- Psychological screening of the surrogate (often included in the agency fees)
- Medical screening of the surrogate (often included in the agency fees)
- Legal fees (including legal representation, contracts, proceedings, and parental establishment—which may not be included in agency fees)
- Medical insurance (for pregnancy, delivery, and newborn—not often included in agency fees)
- Compensation and reimbursement for the surrogate and her related expenses (i.e. travel, maternity clothing, prenatal vitamins etc.—not often included in agency fees)
Other fees may include pre-negotiated fees for a multiple pregnancy & birth, additional costs for unexpected expenses such as a c-section, or compensation and/or childcare costs if your carrier needs to go on bedrest during their pregnancy.
How Much Does a Surrogacy Agency Cost?
Here’s where things can get a bit confusing. Actual agency fees range anywhere from $22,000 to $50,000. This cost includes things such as advertising, background checks, matching a surrogate with intended parents, and organizing (but not covering the fee for) psychological, medical, and legal fees. These fees also exclude the surrogate’s compensation, which can range anywhere from $25,000 to $76,000.
In total, factoring in everything from the agency’s fees to the surrogate’s compensation and legal and medical costs, intended parents are looking at fees ranging from $90,000 to $200,000. That said, each surrogacy journey is different, which can impact the overall price.
An important note: As is the case with most things in life, the cheapest alternative isn’t always the best. Many surrogacy agencies that low ball the price will have drawbacks such as: hidden fees (or external fees, as with a surrogacy agency that does not have in-house legal representation), slower processing times, poor communication, and longer matching times. Certain companies advertise prices as low as $22,000, for instance, but when all is said and done, you’re still looking at an overall fee in the mid-$100,000’s.
What Does a Surrogacy Agency Do?
Consider an agency your personal surrogate finder. They advertise your desire to use a surrogate, connecting you to multiple possible gestational carriers. Once they’ve found a match, the agency conducts background checks (on both the intended parents and the surrogate), medical screenings, and organizes support (physically and emotionally) for the surrogate going forward.
The agency also takes on the role of educator for all parties involved, helping them to navigate the sometimes-murky waters (i.e. medical insurance and legal services) that flow through the surrogacy process.
The cost of a surrogacy agency depends on a few factors, including the intended parents’ location.
How to Choose a Surrogacy Agency
As with most important decisions, it’s essential to do your research before choosing a surrogacy agency. Investigate more than one facility and ask essential questions like these:
- What services are included in your overall cost?
- What services are not included in the overall cost? (i.e. what variable fees can I expect)
- What if the surrogacy doesn’t work (i.e. the embryo doesn’t transfer, etc.)? How will the price be affected?
- How much do you think, overall, we can expect to pay (including potential variable fees)?
How Much is a Surrogate Paid?
Depending on the agency, a surrogate is paid anywhere from $25,000 to $76,000 in compensation. Additional fees include things like maternity clothing, travel expenses (including hotel stays and gas mileage), lost wages (if she’s ill or on bed rest), multiple fees (twins and triplets can add $5,000 to $10,000 more), and an additional payment of about $3,000 to $5,000 or more for a C-section.
What Additional Costs Should I Expect During a Surrogacy Journey?
Life doesn’t always go as planned, and neither does surrogacy, so always expect the unexpected. That means unforeseen costs such as covering for your surrogate’s travel, bed rest, lost wages (during bed rest or travel periods), housekeeping, post-birth recovery, and child-care (if she’s unable to care for her children). You may also need to cover an additional fee for multiples and invasive procedures such as a caesarean section.
What Legal Fees Can I Expect to Pay During a Surrogacy Journey?
In addition to covering legal fees associated with the egg donor and the surrogate, intended parents will have to pay for legal contracts outlining each party’s responsibilities and compensation. Depending on your state, these fees and the extent of the contracts will vary. Other legal costs include papers to terminate the surrogate’s parental rights and establish those of the intended parents.
Is Surrogacy Covered by Insurance?
Unfortunately, surrogacy is not typically covered by insurance plans. Some providers do offer reimbursement plans for surrogacy, but you’ll still be expected to pay for your journey up front.
How Can I Afford Surrogacy?
Luckily, you won’t have to pay for surrogacy all at once. The bulk of the costs are often due within six months of starting the process, which can last between 15 and 20 months. Also, most agencies allow clients to pay these larger fees in two or three payments. That said, some agencies require a “first fee,” which must be paid up-front.
Not sure you can cover a large chunk at one time? Talk to your agency about contributing monthly. Also, many surrogacy agencies work with lending agencies. They can help direct you to a company that lends money for this exact situation. Prosper Healthcare and New Life Fertility Finance offer bespoke loans customized to each intended parent.
Under certain circumstances, intended parents can apply for a grant or financing, which may offer need-based support for the IVF portion of a surrogacy journey. While they won’t cover the surrogacy themselves, these grants can help offset the agency and surrogate compensation costs.