How Much Does a Surrogate Cost?

FT Contributor
A pregnant, surrogate mother holding her belly in one hand and cash in the other.
Reading Time: 4 minutes

According to the National Institute of Health, 11% of women of reproductive age in the United States have experienced fertility problems. Fortunately, there are many other ways to have babies, including adoption and surrogacy.

Gestational surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy. This is when the carrier is not genetically related to the child she is carrying. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to implant a fertilized egg into the carrier, where it will grow to full term. Many women with fertility issues opt to go through an IVF procedure and use a surrogate, especially if they are at risk of experiencing health problems or losing the baby.

There are many factors influencing the total cost of surrogacy, as the process of using a gestational surrogate has many steps. On average, the total cost for surrogate pregnancies can range from $90,000 to $175,000.

It’s no secret that raising a child in the United States is a major expense, but having to pay for a surrogate to carry a baby can significantly increase that cost. Learn more about the costs associated with a surrogate pregnancy and what you can do to create a budget for this kind of expense.

Gestational Surrogate Compensation and Reimbursement

The surrogate who carries and delivers the baby is compensated for their time, efforts, and medical bills. Surrogates may be compensated differently from state to state, as certain locations are in higher demand for surrogates than others. Similarly, more experienced surrogates — those who have carried and delivered babies before — may come at a higher fee than others.

A first-time surrogate receives an average of $35,000 in the United States. However, the base pay for surrogates may vary depending on experience, the number of children they are carrying, and the state they reside in.

Other factors that influence the fees associated with a surrogate’s compensation might include:

  • Allowances.
  • Expenses.
  • Maternity clothes.
  • Having to carry multiple babies at once.
  • The need for a C-section.
  • Invasive procedures.
  • Embryo transfer.
  • Lost wages as a result of bed rest.
  • Childcare.
  • Health insurance.
  • Term life insurance policies.
  • Travel.
  • Breast milk.

Agency Fees & Screening Costs

Choosing to use a surrogate can greatly influence the cost of having a baby. It’s not just about the base pay that the surrogate receives. The agency you find a surrogate through also charges a fee, which varies from state to state. Typically a surrogate agency’s fee is around $20,000.

There is also a charge for screening to find the surrogate that is right for your family. On average, a surrogate’s medical screening will cost $17,550.

Legal Fees and Services

Attorneys should be hired to represent both sides, including the intended parents of the child and the surrogate. Therefore, there are legal fees tied to surrogacy. This helps to ensure legal contracts are drafted to cover each individual’s unique circumstances. On average, intended parents will pay $7,500 in legal fees, while the surrogate will only pay an average of $1,000.  

Medical Expenses

A number of medical procedures are required in a surrogate pregnancy. These procedures often make up the bulk of the cost. The intended parent can expect to pay for a variety of surrogacy medical expenses, including all IVF treatments and fertility medications, as well as all prenatal care costs and any other medical procedures throughout the process, such as:

  • $750 per embryo transfer procedure.
  • $350 to $1,000 for invasive surgical procedures.
  • $2,500 average for a cesarean section (C-section).
  • $5,000 for multiple births.

Insurances may also play a role in the total cost of surrogacy. Some insurance companies provide coverage for surrogacy expenses, but the coverage is usually limited to the obstetrical expenses of the surrogate. Some insurance companies will also cover fees related to the establishment of your embryos, but it is rare.

Counseling, Education, and Support

Having a child is an emotional experience, but using a surrogate is a complexly emotional experience for both the intended parents as well as the surrogate herself. The parent who is unable to conceive may seek counseling, but so may the surrogate having difficulty parting ways with the baby once it is born. Because there are so many complex emotions surrounding surrogacy, many people seek help navigating the process.

Educational programs and resources, as well as licensed professionals, can provide ongoing support and counseling to both parents and gestational carriers before and after the surrogacy. These resources may come at an additional cost depending on factors like insurance and the state they are being sought in.

Other Costs and Variable Expenses Paid by Intended Parents

There are many different unpredictable expenses that can arise when using a surrogate. In most cases, the intended parents are expected to pay for other costs and variable expenses such as:

  • Additional health and life insurance for the carrier.
  • Travel expenses. 
  • Lost wages. 
  • Multiple transfer attempts. 
  • Additional legal and medical services.
  • Escrow management services. 
  • Allowances. 

Financial Assistance for Surrogacy

In some cases, intended parents are not able to save money to pay for the financial responsibility that comes with using a surrogate. If you cannot afford the costs associated with a surrogate, there are a number of alternative ways you can pay, such as:

  • Financing from the surrogacy agency.
  • Personal loans. 
  • Home equity loans.
  • 401(k) loans or withdrawals.
  • Grants.
  • Child tax credits.
  • Help from an employer.
  • Insurance assistance.
  • Charities.

While using a surrogate can be costly, the rewards for doing so greatly outweigh the costs. That said, it’s important to consider each costly aspect of using a surrogate before investing in the opportunity.

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