You’ve ticked a few boxes off your life plan— a good job, a house, but now you’re thinking about expanding your family. Becoming a parent by any means isn’t cheap, but for families using gestational surrogacy, there are significant additional costs involved. In this article, we’ll break down the expenses associated with having a child via surrogate and what financing options are available.
Cost of Surrogacy
Nationwide, the average cost of surrogacy is between $90,000 and $130,000. Surrogate costs typically differ from state to state, depending on the demand for surrogate mothers and any state requirements. The cost of surrogacy in Texas usually falls within the nationwide averages.
What these costs will include will also depend on the needs of the intended parents. For example, if an egg and/or sperm donor is needed to create an embryo, the process will cost more than if the intended parents were able to use their own.
So what all goes into the total cost of gestational surrogacy? Several factors contribute to the overall cost of surrogacy, including:
- Surrogate Compensation. The average base fee for first time gestational carriers in the United States is $35,000. Expect to pay around $5,000 more for a second pregnancy with an experienced surrogate. If you choose the same surrogate again for a third pregnancy, the fee can increase $7,000. Similarly, if the surrogate is carrying multiples, you will likely pay an additional $5,000 per child.
- Medical Fees. Medical expenses are separate from surrogate fees. The highest cost here is in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which can cost around $20,000. Note that IVF in surrogacy is typically more expensive than traditional IVF. Unexpected medical expenses, such as C-sections and hysterectomies, can add to your total medical cost.
- Insurance. Health insurance coverage is a tricky factor of surrogacy. Because of this, it’s recommended to work with a surrogacy professional who can examine policies of both parties to determine what expenses will be paid out of pocket. If your insurance does not cover surrogacy, you might need supplemental coverage that includes the surrogate’s care. Insurance coverage typically ranges between $10,000 and $15,800.
- Agency Fees. Many parents go through an agency that guides them through the process and matches them with a surrogate. An agency fee pays these organizations for their work.
- Legal Fees. It’s not unusual for both parties to have attorneys. Attorneys are responsible for creating a gestational surrogacy contract, as well as for settling any disputes that may arise. In total, fees for legal services can cost upwards of $10,000.
- Screening Fees. Intended parents, the surrogate, and her spouse (if applicable) typically undergo a series of screenings before diving into the surrogacy process. This includes psychological screenings, criminal background checks, and medical screenings to ensure suitability for pregnancy. Screening requirements vary from clinic to clinic, but will likely add $1,000 to $4,000 to your expenses.
- Other Fees. Other expenses that are associated with surrogacy include stipends for maternity clothing, monthly allowances, hotel and travel arrangements, pregnancy pamper packages and more. These can vary on a case by case basis and can potentially add several thousand to your total cost.
Typically, agency and surrogate fees are held in an escrow account that is funded by the parents in advance. An escrow account would allow a third party to oversee and disburse funds during the surrogacy process. This ensures that the gestational surrogate receives the right amount of money at the right times.
Couples are also advised to set aside some money— between 10% and 20% of the total costs— in case something unexpected comes up. For example, if the surrogate is placed on bed rest, this padding will help cover the cost of lost wages.
Financing Options for Surrogacy
If you don’t have $100,000+ tucked away in your savings account, don’t lose hope. There are financing options available that can help cover the costs.
Before you start taking out loans, do some research to see if you qualify for any grants. Grants are given by some organizations and are a type of financial assistance that doesn’t need to be repaid. Even if they don’t cover the entire cost, a grant can ease the financial burden. Each organization has different requirements and stipulations, so be sure to read the fine print of any program before you apply.
Family, Friends, and Fundraising
Some people fundraise in person or online to gather the necessary funds. This has become easier with the popularity of online fundraising platforms, which allow people to share their campaigns and reach thousands of people through social media.
Home Equity Loan / Home Equity Line of Credit
As a homeowner, you will find that the equity available in your home will increase as real estate prices rise and you pay down your mortgage. A home equity loan allows you to borrow money against the equity you have in your home. Because a home equity loan is backed by collateral, it’s considered a secured loan. Secured loans come with better terms and lower interest rates than unsecured loans since they are deemed a smaller risk to banks and lenders.
Furthermore, many home equity lines of credit come with a 10-year draw period where you can choose to make interest-only payments. This can be especially helpful as you work to establish a "new normal" for your family's finances.
A personal loan is a conventional loan that you obtain from a bank or credit union. Unlike a home equity loan, many personal loans are unsecured. Rates and loan terms differ across institutions, so be sure to shop around to find the best deal if you decide to take out a personal loan. You may also find it difficult to qualify for a six-figure personal loan, so speak with a lender sooner rather than later to discuss payment options.
Agency Financing Programs
Some surrogacy agencies offer their own financing programs that allow patients to repay their costs as part of a set fee schedule.
Some families charge surrogacy expenses to credit cards. While they may be easier to obtain than a loan, credit cards usually come with higher costs. If left unpaid, credit card debt can accumulate massive amounts of interest, potentially costing you thousands more down the line.
This shouldn’t be your first option, as borrowing against your retirement can put your future financial security at risk. Still, if you’ve exhausted all other options, a 401(k) loan may allow you to borrow up to 50% of the funds. Keep in mind that the funds will have to be repaid within a specific time frame.
Having a child by any means can be expensive, but for parents using a surrogate, the cost can be much higher. However, the high prices don’t necessarily mean that you have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in your reserves. Thanks to financing and financial assistance from grants, having a baby through a surrogate mother is a feasible option for those looking to build their family.