Diving into the world of surrogacy can feel overwhelming for hopeful parents who want to expand their family. Not only do they have to learn how surrogacy works in the U.S. and other countries, they have to find a willing surrogate and hope that the end result is a healthy baby. That's just for starters. Then they have to ask: How much does surrogacy cost? When it comes to the price, they can expect to pay thousands of dollars during their journey.
Destiny Blackmon knows this all too well. “I would say about $100,000 in total,” she tells TODAY.com about the cost of surrogacy. “To date, we’ve spent $80,000. The eggs themselves were $20,000, and the lawyer, travel, clinic, insurance all were separate costs each time. Once the baby is born, I’d say we will have spent about $100,000 in total for both of our surrogacy journeys.”
But if you ask Blackmon, she says the years of research and planning, the emotional ups and downs and the money were all worth it in the end.
If you are wondering how much surrogacy costs, experts say the amount will vary for each family. “There are so many factors that will ultimately dictate the total cost of the journey but a good 'all-in average,' including surrogate compensation, agency fees, legal fees, insurance, etc. is approximately $125,000 to $175,000,” said Stephanie Levich, founder and president of Family Match Consulting.
Here’s what you need to know about the surrogacy cost in the United States and how much you should save before you start on your journey.
Costs of surrogacy
Agency fees: $15,000 to $30,000
In order to connect with possible surrogates, many families choose to work with agencies. From medical screenings for surrogates and egg and sperm donors, counseling services for all parties, helping intended parents understand insurance policies, and negotiating the terms of the surrogacy and legal agreements, prices vary greatly for each agency.
“Surrogacy agencies exist throughout the country to help intended parents find a surrogate, also referred to as a gestational carrier,” said Levich. “An obstacle that many intended parents face is that an agency may not have an available surrogate that meets a client’s criteria at any given time, so it’s common to encounter long wait lists before a match is found.”
Surrogate fees: $30,000-$60,000
The gestational surrogacy costs are the compensation for the surrogate for medical testing and screenings, carrying and delivering the child and the emotional and physical journey of surrogacy. The surrogate’s fee will depend on their location and whether she has worked as a surrogate before. Also this fee may increase if the surrogate is carrying multiples (twins or triplets) or if she has to have a cesarean delivery.
Legal fees: $5,000-$15,000
The total price of all legal aspects of the surrogacy will vary based on location and the lawyers used.
Embryo creation: $20,000-$30,000
For prospective parents using a gestational surrogate, embryo creation will need to happen. Through IVF, this embryo is implanted into the surrogate.
Egg donation: $20,000-$30,000
Donor eggs are used for a variety of reasons, and again, a variety of factors will decide the price of a donated egg(s).
In vitro fertilization: $10,000-$15,000
The average cost for one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle is more than $12,000 but varies based on location.
Insurance costs: $10,000-$30,000
While most health insurance plans do not cover surrogate pregnancies, hopeful families will be expected to pay the premiums and deductibles for their surrogate’s insurance plan or pay for the surrogate to have medical insurance.
Additional costs: Varies
When creating budget for surrogacy, most agencies will give the advice to include a budget for extra costs such as maternity clothes for the surrogate, extra medical expenses if they arise during the pregnancy, travel and lodging if your surrogate lives in another part of the country and you will be visiting before and after she gives birth, and the usual expenses of preparing bring a baby home.
How to pay for surrogacy
From tapping into savings, asking family and friends for assistance to searching for surrogacy grants and loans, intended parents can find financial planning assistance from their surrogacy agency. According to Levich, this is why it’s imperative that prospective parents find a reputable agency that has been vetted.
She recommends using services to find an agency who will help guide families through this process. “As a fertility consultant that has worked in this field for over 20 years, I tell prospective surrogacy clients that my hope isn’t to sell them on any singular path, but instead, to educate them on the various options that are available so they can make the most informed decision in regards to the right path for them,” said Levich.
Is surrogacy cheaper than IVF?
Surrogacy is not cheaper than IVF. Since IVF is a built-in part of surrogacy, IVF alone costs less. Levich said she often reminds prospective parents to budget for the IVF medications into the overall equation, which can typically cost around $3,000—$5,000.
Is surrogacy covered by insurance?
According to Levich, most stages of surrogacy are not covered by insurance. “When surrogates are under the care of a reproductive endocrinologist, the screening, embryo transfer and monitoring fees are most often not covered by insurance,” she said. “After the surrogate is released to the care of an OB at approximately 12 weeks of a pregnancy, her personal insurance will be utilized.”
This is when the parents will pick up the bill for the surrogate if she uses her health insurance or purchase insurance for the surrogate.
“Many insurance policies have surrogacy exclusions so it’s imperative that prospective parents work with insurance professionals who specialize in surrogacy to help determine the best, safest and most cost-effective plan to secure throughout the surrogacy pregnancy,” added Levich.
The bottom line
While growing your family and bringing a baby into the world is a priceless gift, the reality is, the cost of surrogacy in the United States can be well over six figures. For Blackmon, the ups, the downs and the hefty price tag were all worth it.
“The amount of information and the changes in laws across the country and even in the world make the cost of surrogacy very difficult," said Blackmon. “My husband and I are so thankful that there are people out there willing to help families who just want to have a baby to raise in love. It’s absolutely possible. Be encouraged.”