Ballpark Estimate: Up to $100,000 or more
If you are one of the many couples who can’t have a child on their own, you may want to explore another viable option: using a surrogate mother to carry a baby to term for you. Surrogacy is a growing business that has been gaining popularity in the United States and is allowing many more people than ever before to experience the joy of becoming parents. Of course such a service comes at a steep cost, but for many, the rewards that come along with this investment can truly be priceless.
Who Uses a Surrogate
Using a surrogate can be an appealing option for people in a variety of different situations. Some couples who look to someone to carry a baby for them have been through numerous fertility treatments that were unsuccessful, while others may have gone through repeated miscarriages and are unable to have a successful pregnancy on their own. In addition, a surrogate can be a viable choice for women with health conditions that make the concept of pregnancy and/or labor too high risk. Finally, more and more same sex couples are turning to surrogacy as an option to allow them to start their own families.
How It Works
The way surrogacy generally works is that you enter in a contractual agreement with a woman who agrees to try to become pregnant with “your” child. After the baby’s birth, she will hand over the child to you to raise as your own (in some cases this needs to be done through a legal adoption). But how the woman becomes pregnant can vary depending on a variety of circumstances and these fine details make a big difference in the logistics.
Keep in mind that surrogacy is not a legal option in all states, and even some states that don’t prohibit it also do not recognize it, either, which can pose complications. But some of the states that do allow surrogacy issue pre-birth orders that allow the names of the parents to be used for the birth certificate.
(If you live in California, the road to surrogacy may be easier than in other parts of the country, since this is known as one of the most surrogate-friendly states in the U.S.)
Different Arrangements for Different Situations
If you do contract with another women to carry your baby for you, how this arrangement works depends on your specific circumstances. There are two basic types of surrogates. The first, a gestational surrogate, houses and births a baby who isn’t genetically related to her, using an embryo made from an egg and sperm you provide (either from you or from outside donors). The second type is a traditional surrogate, who uses her own egg along with sperm that either you or a donor provide. In such a case, the surrogate is biologically related to the baby and the child will need to be legally passed on to you through adoption proceedings.
The Finer Points
Keep in mind that who actually provides the egg is in fact more important from a legal standpoint than who provides the sperm. This is because if you use the surrogate’s own egg then she is seen in the eyes of the law as the baby’s legal mother. The danger in this scenario is that this will give her more claim to the baby after its birth, which can be a problem if she were to change her mind about giving it to you and decide she wants to instead raise it on her own instead.
Who Becomes a Surrogate
Many healthy women who want to help infertile couples do so by becoming surrogates. Often surrogates have had children of their own and want to share the joy of parenthood with others. In some cases, surrogates can also be motivated by the financial rewards that come along with the experience.
How much a surrogate charges can vary a great deal, depending on where she lives, what her needs are and whether she works independently or through an agency that serves as a broker for such a service. Regardless of whether you go through a surrogate directly or use a middleman, you should always be sure to use a lawyer to make sure your agreement is spelled out legally and appropriately protects the rights of everyone involved in this arrangement.
What to Expect
The type of relationship you arrange with a surrogate can vary a lot, but often, the couple will be involved throughout the pregnancy and birth. In addition, following the birth, some couples continue to stay in touch with the surrogate and involve her in the child’s life in some way, while other families prefer to part ways after the process is completed.
What It Costs
When you calculate the cost of using a surrogate, there are many factors that come into play and can greatly impact the final equation. First, whether the surrogate is working independently or going through an agency can affect the final fee, but generally the entire process from start to finish can run up to $100,000 or more when you add in all of the related costs.
This includes a surrogate’s fee that is often in the range of $10,000 to $20,000. But keep in mind this is just the beginning of your financial investment. You can also assume that you will incur legal and agency costs of between $15,000 to $30,000 to handle all of the logistics and paperwork involved. If your surrogate has health insurance that will cover her pregnancy, this will help to minimize some of the medical costs, but the policies in regard to surrogacy are not very advanced at this point, and some health insurance companies may exclude coverage for this situation.
In addition to the surrogate fees and agency and legal expenses, this $100,000 investment also includes the medical costs of the regular prenatal visits, tests and the delivery, which can total upwards of $10,000, depending on where you live and the specifics of each case. Even if insurance coverage is provided, you may still have to pay for some of the procedures involved for you and the surrogate, such as in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. For instance, an egg donor alone can cost you another $4,000 to $10,000. And the cost of these procedures depends on what’s involved and how many times they need to be repeated. In addition, some insurance companies have co-pays or deductibles for services that you will need to include on your list of expenses.
Other things that can bring the total up to and often beyond the $100,000 mark include cost of maternity clothes, prenatal vitamins, and other living costs for the surrogate that you might need to cover, depending on the situation. If the surrogate has other children, you may need to cover child care for them during doctor’s visits and labor, and if the surrogate must be on bed rest during some or all of the pregnancy, you will often need to make up for lost wages.
Make It Legal
With so many things to consider, experts stress how important it is to do your research and come to agreement with your surrogate beforehand and spell out all of the terms legally, so everyone knows what to expect. You may also want to connect with support groups such as American Surrogacy Center and the Center for Surrogate Parenting and Egg Donation. You can also do a search for other local resources and groups that exist in your area.
If you are interested in entering into a surrogacy arrangement but can’t swing the costs that come with it, there is one other thing to consider. You can hire a surrogate from India for a small portion of what you would spend in the United States and there, the practice is legalized. However, critics point out that the mortality rate for infants in India is much higher than in the United States, so it is important to weigh all of the factors. However, people who have gone this route say they have spent somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000, even after adding in the surrogate’s fee, legal and medical costs and even travel expenses. That makes this a viable option for some would-be-parents and in fact, a growing number of people are exploring this alternative today.