Why is Surrogacy for Same-Sex Couples so Expensive?

190924-D GPTB_Blog-2Surrogacy allows those in a same-sex relationship to do something that wasn’t possible 40 years ago – have their own children. But you already know this. That’s why you’re here, trying to determine why the process costs so much. Should you use a surrogacy agency? Is it cheaper to embark on your journey outside the US? 

With so many aspects to consider, facing the steep finances of surrogacy can seem daunting. That’s where we come in. From decoding the various costs to finding ways to lower your expenses, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of surrogacy fees.

What can I Expect from a Surrogacy Journey?

You’ve made (or almost made) the difficult decision to use a surrogate — more widely known as a gestational carrier. Now what? First, you’ll have to decide between the two types of surrogacy:

  • Traditional Surrogacy – the surrogate is also the egg donor, meaning she’s genetically linked to the child. Legally, it’s very complicated, which is why this method is rarely used.
  • Gestational Surrogacy – the gestational carrier is inseminated via IVF using donor eggs fertilized by sperm from one of the intended parents or a donor.

Next, you’ll choose whether you’d like to go it alone by finding your own gestational carrier and organizing the IVF, medical tests, counsellors, and lawyers’ fees. Financially, this is a cheaper alternative, but it can also be emotionally and physically taxing. Your other option is to choose a surrogacy agency, which is kind of like a one-stop shop for all your surrogacy needs. With so many moving parts and middlemen involved in a surrogacy journey, most find it easier to outsource the managerial and organizational grunt work to an agency.

How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?

The average cost of surrogacy in the US is about $140,000. Each of the costs involved with the journey (i.e. IVF, gestational carrier supplementation, and legal fees) vary by clinic, location, and situation, so there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the financial aspects of surrogacy. You can find cheaper alternatives, mainly outside of the US, but these come with risks you’ll learn more about below.

Why Does Surrogacy Cost So Much?

Surrogacy is made up of many important parts. In addition to paying for IVF (either out of pocket or with some help from insurance) you’ll be responsible for other essential surrogacy costs outlined in the chart. Before you balk at the idea of financing so many factors remember: these are all valuable pieces of the fertility puzzle. And if you choose to go with a surrogacy agency, many of these fees may be included.

What’s Included in the Cost of Surrogacy?

IVF clinic
Donor compensation
Gestational carrier compensation
Surrogacy agency
Legal fees (both for you and the gestational carrier)
Medications for donor and gestational carrier
Travel costs for intended parents and gestational carrier
Pregnancy expenses (i.e. maternity clothes and prenatal vitamins, etc.)
Health insurance for gestational carrier

Why Do I Need Both an IVF Clinic and a Surrogacy Agency?

A surrogacy agency removes much stress from the surrogacy process. They do not, however, complete IVF. An agency is responsible for screening gestational carriers, determining their (and the intended parents’) mental, physical and emotional readiness, coordinating services with the fertility clinic, and organizing counseling, travel and legal details. The actual medical and laboratory procedures, as well as medical and genetic screening and specimen (egg, sperm, and embryo) storage, are conducted at a fertility center, or IVF clinic.

How Much Does IVF Cost?

As with all things fertility-related, the cost of IVF varies per case. The price will depend on certain factors such as your location (country and state), employer benefits, and insurance coverage. In general, though, an intended parent can expect to pay between $25,000 and $45,000. There are many variables to these costs, including whether you opt-in to a guarantee plan with your clinic, so this number will be specific to your individual journey.

Can I Pursue a Surrogacy Journey Without Using an Agency?

In theory, yes – although much more of your time will go into coordinating screenings, the legal portion, and just the many moving parts of a surrogacy journey. It is also important to note that many fertility centers will only work with intended parents who use a surrogacy agency– that’s how much an agency contributes to the process! There are pros to doing your journey without the help of an agency. These include:

  • Saving money by skipping agency fees.
  • If you have a family member or friend who is willing to act as a compassionate surrogate (someone who is not officially compensated)
  • Having more contact with your gestational carrier.

However, the cons associated with going it alone include:

  • Being responsible for planning and organizing.
  • Finding an egg donor and potentially coordinating their screening
  • Finding and screening a gestational carrier to ensure she’s a good match. This can be difficult and time-consuming. You may also incur advertising and other costs related to your search.
  • Finding and hiring an attorney for yourself, your partner, and your gestational carrier to ensure legal contracts and parentage documents are protecting all parties involved
  • Finding a counsellor for you, your partner, and your gestational carrier.
  • Finding a clinic and coordinating all appointments there
  • Certain IVF clinics will only work with parents who are also using a surrogacy agency – otherwise there is too much responsibility on the clinic, and your physician wants to make sure all your legal rights are protected

How Do I Choose a Surrogacy Agency?

Choosing a surrogacy agency is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. The company you pick will be responsible for finding the person who will grow your precious child. They’ll also oversee important aspects such as your surrogacy match, psychological screening, and all legal matters surrounding this experience. Do your research, including interviewing staff members and reading reviews of the company.

Is Surrogacy Cheaper in Other Countries?

Yes. As mentioned earlier, the average cost of surrogacy (including agency fees) is about $140,000 in the US. Outside the country, however, agencies offer comparable services for as low as $39,000. An online search for “cheap surrogacy” will expose discounted options in countries spanning from Mexico to India. The problem is, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get in terms of medical care, legal protection, or the legal aftermath after your child’s birth when conducting these matters on international soil.

Is it Best to Stay in the US for my Surrogacy Journey?

Overall, it’s safest to stay within the US. It’s easy to find cheaper surrogacy alternatives internationally, but doing so could jeopardize your legal rights as parents. American lawyers are familiar with the laws in each state, which can vary dramatically on topics such as surrogacy, pre-birth orders, and parentage/second-parent adoption. You don’t want to settle your new family back in the US only to realize that your parental rights are compromised due to a lack of legal protection. Having a US-based surrogacy agency on your side can help ensure a smooth, healthy, and legal ride for everyone throughout the process.

How Can I Make Surrogacy Less Expensive?

The easiest way to cut surrogacy costs is to avoid using an agency. That said, there are risks associated with this decision. Other ways in which you can lighten surrogacy’s financial impact include:

  • Creating a budget. The earlier you put money aside, the better. Talk to a financial advisor to set up an efficient plan. Also check with the surrogacy agency to see if they offer payment plans.
  • Checking to see if your employer has a reimbursement plan for surrogacy. Some companies provide discounts or compensations (up to $35,000 in the case of American Express) for adoption or surrogacy. If this has only been offered to heterosexual employees in the past, you can make a case for this benefit being extended to you as well.
  • Seeing if one of your friends or family members would be an egg donor or gestational carrier. Beware: there are specific requirements and pretty rigorous screening for both of these processes. In addition, both you and your potential known donor/surrogate will both need to be emotionally ready for the effect this decision can have on your relationship.
  • Finding aid through research grants or charities such as the Gay Parenting Assistance Program (GPAP) offered by Men Having Babies.
  • Getting to know your insurance. Call and speak to a representative. There may be more same-sex coverage than you think – for instance, some insurance providers will cover certain costs of IVF, but not surrogacy. It’s always good to know the extent of your fertility coverage.
  • Finding a fertility financing company (i.e. CapexMD) to help you attain needed funds.
  • Checking to see if your employer offers additional benefit plans (i.e. Progyny) that you may take advantage of. As members of the LGBTQ community continue to advocate for equal fertility benefits, more and more companies have started to offer a plan for these services.
  • Taking a breath! You don’t need to rush into everything. Start small by having a semen analysis. This is a great place to begin and it’s likely covered by insurance.

The financial aspects of this journey can seem overwhelming, but there are some easy first steps that you can take to get a handle on the process. A semen analysis is a great way to get started with the surrogacy process, and gives you valuable information about your own fertility!

Emma Lott

Emma Lott

As the Brand Specialist, Emma is the marketing lead for Gay Parents To Be, helping to build awareness of the brand not only as a direct path to parenthood, but also as a general resource for fertility information in the LGBTQ community. She loves the chance to attend conferences on LGBTQ health and family building, and meet prospective patients.

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