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How Much Do Surrogates Make to Carry a Pregnancy? Your FAQs Answered

A surrogacy expert (and parent through surrogacy herself) offers a transparent look at surrogacy compensation.

July 13th, 2023 | 11 min. read

By Kristin Marsoli

One of the first questions intended parents ask when considering working with a gestational carrier to grow their family is, "How much is this all going to cost?" In this guide, we will answer that question with a focus on how surrogate compensation works and how much surrogates typically make to carry a pregnancy. 

In this article:

The ABCs of Surrogacy

You might already be a surrogacy pro - or you may be exploring the concept for the first time. With that in mind, let's define a few key terms you'll typically encounter on a surrogacy journey.

  • Gestational carrier (GC): A gestational carrier (often referred to as a surrogate) is someone who carries a pregnancy and delivers a baby for another individual or couple. In modern surrogacy, surrogates are never genetically linked to the baby they are carrying. 
  • Intended parent (IP): Intended parent (or parents) is the term used to refer to the individual or couple who will be raising the child. IPs may or may not have a genetic link to their child, depending on the situation.
  • Egg donor: An egg donor is someone who donates their oocytes (eggs) at a fertility clinic or egg donor bank with the intention of helping another individual or couple have a child.
  • Fertility clinic: A fertility clinic is in charge of all of the medical aspects of your surrogacy journey – from genetic screening all the way through embryo transfer and the first eight weeks of pregnancy.
  • Surrogacy agency: A surrogacy agency helps coordinate your surrogacy journey to make it as easy for you to navigate as possible. They will provide all or most of the services needed to complete the surrogacy part of your family-building journey.  

Editor's Note: In this article, we will use the terms GC and surrogate interchangeably.

My Personal Surrogacy Story

Before we dive in, I'll briefly share my own surrogacy story, why I'm so passionate about the work I do at Circle Surrogacy, and how my experience offers such a unique perspective.

My husband and I are parents to our son – now 8 – through surrogacy with Circle. Our journey was almost a decade ago, and it’s amazing how much has changed in the surrogacy industry since then (and how much more surrogacy is talked about). It was from my personal journey at surrogacy that led me to my professional career with Circle Surrogacy.

Having been in the IPs’ shoes (worried about costs, wondering what a relationship with a GC was going to be like) made my work that much more rewarding. We had a great relationship with our GC; it didn’t happen overnight and it slowly built up over time. We were able to visit her a few times during the journey and we were there for our son’s birth.

Why We Chose to Work With a Surrogacy Agency

The amount of work that goes into managing a surrogacy journey is not something I had expertise in or time for (I already had a full time job) so having an agency take that role was a no-brainer for us. It gave me peace of mind knowing there were people doing all the leg work, asking the right questions, and ensuring everything was in place for us because we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

We had a long journey with a few bumps, and it was before Circle offered an "all-inclusive" cost option. I wish this fixed cost program existed when we were going through our journey. I can’t tell intended parents enough how much it’s worth it.

Just knowing the cost of your journey from Day 1 and knowing you will not pay a penny more no matter what happens provides so much financial peace of mind!

Does it cost more to work with a surrogacy agency?

If you choose to work with a surrogacy agency, you will incur an "agency fee." What this fee covers may vary from agency to agency; but putting that fee aside, your journey will have the same costs whether or not you use a surrogacy agency.

Some of the agency fee will go towards sourcing, screening and finding you a surrogate match (if you don’t use an agency, you would be responsible for finding your own surrogate, ensuring she is properly educated and screened for surrogacy, find her legal representation, etc.)

The added benefits of working with an agency typically include: screening potential surrogates, matching intended parents with a surrogate, coordinating the various surrogacy professionals involved in the journey, travel arrangements for the gestational carrier, and overall support for your surrogate (and the intended parents) throughout the entire surrogacy journey.

It also provides IPs peace of mind that everything is being taken care of by professionals!

Surrogate Compensation Breakdown

The intended parents (IPs) are responsible for EVERY cost related to the surrogate pregnancy. The GC is never expected to cover any costs related to surrogacy. Listed below are the typical items included in a surrogate's compensation package.

Explore Circle's comprehensive surrogacy compensation breakdown or their base pay calculator to learn the average cost of each of these items and what the GC receives.

  • Base compensation for surrogate
  • Surrogate screening (psychological and medical)
  • All travel for appointments (including local monitoring appointments)
  • Mileage reimbursement and lost wages for the surrogate and her travel companion
  • Daily stipend for meals/transportation, plus all hotel bills for surrogate and travel partner
  • Monthly stipend for the surrogate to use how she sees fit
  • Lost wages and child care for the surrogate and her primary support person who travels with her for the medical screening and embryo transfer
  • Personal and home care payments for things such as maternity clothes, housekeeping, etc.
  • Care packages each trimester (plus a fourth trimester care package) 
  • Fourth trimester (postpartum) care including flex spending, lost wages during recovery, meals, reimbursement for breast milk pumping supplies and payments (if this is agreed upon by the GC and IPs)

How much do surrogates make to carry a pregnancy?

  • Singleton pregnancy: On average, a surrogate's total compensation (including all benefits) for a singleton pregnancy is between $50,000-$65,000, depending on various factors.
  • Multiple (twin) pregnancy): Surrogates will be compensated additionally to carry a twin pregnancy, as it requires more from the GC - both physically and emotionally. Typically, a GC can expect to be paid between $5,000-$10,000 in addition to the compensation for a singleton (exact amount will depend on which agency you choose). 
  • Experienced surrogates (for second, third or more journeys – they do not have to be sibling journeys) are usually compensated an additional amount for each subsequent surrogacy journey. The incremental amount is usually discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Take the first step:

Schedule a consultation with a surrogacy expert to get the information you need to begin your journey to parenthood.

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What if the first embryo transfer isn't successful?

It’s important to note that IPs are responsible for paying for everything during a journey. For example, they must pay for the surrogate’s medications and for the embryo transfer. If the first embryo transfer isn’t successful, the IPs then need to pay each of the above costs all over again for a second transfer.

This is why Circle Surrogacy created their fixed cost program, where intended parents pay one cost at the beginning of their journey and it covers everything – no matter if they need to be rematched, have multiple embryo transfers, or even if they have a late-term loss. They will never pay more out-of-pocket throughout the journey.

As someone who had a six-year long journey to parenthood, I WISH this option existed when my husband and I were in the program!

Surrogate Compensation FAQs

How do people afford surrogacy? 

I know it can feel incredibly overwhelming to try and figure out how you'll be able to afford a surrogacy journey. The good news? You have options, and financial assistance is available!

  • There is financing available for surrogacy and egg donation that’s worth looking into!
  • Explore your personal health insurance plan to see if there is any coverage for third party reproduction (and if not, speak with your HR manager to see if it’s something that could be added).
  • There are also loans and borrowing against your 401K, but we recommend speaking with your financial advisor before making those decisions.
  • Some hopeful parents share their story with family and friends to see if they are able to help fund the journey.
  • For LGBTQ+ parents, organizations like Men Having Babies have programs like GPAP, which offers financial support to help intended parents afford surrogacy.

How does surrogacy payment work? Is it a lump sum?

Payments to the agency by the intended parents are made according to how the agency has structured their payment system.

At Circle Surrogacy, IPs pay at key milestones of the journey. The GC’s escrow account is funded in full, and she is paid her compensation and stipend monthly, and for specific milestones during the journey when they happen (transfer payment, etc).

Who pays the surrogate's attorney's fees? Who pays for the birth?

The IPs are responsible for all of their GC's attorney fees, any baby-related hospital costs at the birth, and then any care for the baby at the hospital.

Who pays for the surrogate's insurance?

The IPs are responsible for ensuring that proper medical insurance is in place for the GC. If the GC has a health insurance policy that covers surrogacy, she may use it (the IPs would pay to have the insurance policy reviewed by a professional).

However, many IPs will purchase a back up insurance plan, in the case that the GC loses her insurance or switches jobs and no longer has the plan that covered surrogacy.

Note: If you’re interested in learning more about surrogacy costs and how to afford surrogacy, it’s best to fill out an application (with no commitment) and chat with someone directly about your specific situation.

General Surrogacy FAQs 

Considering working with a surrogacy agency on your journey to parenthood? Here are some important things to know as you search for the right fit:

What should a good surrogacy agency offer its surrogates?

A surrogacy agency should offer unlimited emotional support to its GCs throughout the entirety of the journey, and beyond (i.e. the fourth trimester). At Circle Surrogacy, every surrogate is paired with an on-staff social worker who is her support person at every step, with regularly scheduled calls, and is available at any time should the GC need something.

Are fixed cost programs worth it?

Many intended parents choose to opt for a fixed cost program, and here's why: it may cost a little more upfront, but if you have even just one failed transfer, that extra amount would have already paid for itself by the time you pay for a second transfer.

Note: Each agency offers different payment options, so carefully consider each one before you embark on your journey.  

How are payments secured (i.e. escrow accounts)?

This information applies specifically to Circle Surrogacy.

When parents make payments to the surrogacy agency, that money is held in a Bonded Escrow Account. These types of accounts are kept only at regulated and approved financial institutions. The IPs’ agency fee covers the trust account management throughout their journey, ensuring the GC is paid appropriately and on time.

How flexible/customizable is a carrier agreement?

Ideally, all points are written into the Carrier Agreement between the IPs and surrogate. Each party will work with their respective attorneys to include specific items in the contract. Both sides will review changes and come to an agreement.

Every surrogacy journey is unique, and that goes for contracts, too. There are some discussion points that happen during the journey (i.e. if the surrogate will pump and ship breast milk and be compensated) that can be worked through.

If any unexpected costs arise, they would be discussed and mutually agreed upon. 

A Surrogate's Story

Learn why Julie became a gestational carrier, what it's like to work with intended parents, and her perspective on the entire surrogacy process.

Read Now

The Beauty of Surrogacy

While there are certainly many financial aspects of surrogacy to consider, it's important to remember the core reason surrogates choose to embark on this challenging adventure: to help another individual or couple create the family they've been dreaming of.

Whether the intended parent is an individual who cannot carry a pregnancy themselves for medical reasons, hopeful dads from the LGBTQ+ community who need to enlist the help of an egg donor and surrogate to have a baby, or any other scenario, the connections forged during a surrogacy journey often become close, lifelong relationships. 

Have more questions? Schedule a consultation with a surrogacy expert or set up a chat with an agency professional from Circle Surrogacy!

Kristin Marsoli

Kristin Marsoli is both a parent through surrogacy and a surrogacy expert. She joined the team at Circle Surrogacy in 2017 as Marketing Director. Prior to this role, she worked at advertising and marketing agencies creating successful brand, digital and social campaigns for clients. Kristin and her husband are proud parents to their son thanks to Circle. Having been through the process, Kristin brings an experienced perspective to all of Circle's digital and social marketing.