This Is How Much It Costs To Embark On A Surrogacy Journey

From IVF to surrogate pregnancies, people who are hoping to have a child that is at least partially biologically theirs can thank advances in medicine for making it possible. While these methods aren't always successful or accessible, science is still on our side in making parenthood a reality for those who want it.

In simple terms, a surrogate is a biological female who carries a pregnancy and gives birth on behalf of someone else (via American Pregnancy Association). This is done either through artificial insemination or IVF, usually with the sperm of one of the intended partners. Once the surrogate has successfully been impregnated, the fetus is carried to term. Surrogate pregnancies can either be compensated, in which the person carrying the fetus is paid, or compassionate, in which only the medical costs are covered, and the person carrying the pregnancy isn't compensated in any other way.

In most cases, unless you find a very selfless person willing to go through nine months of pregnancy and then childbirth, surrogacy pregnancies are compensated — and cost more than a pretty penny. In the U.S., it can cost as much as $200,000 to have a surrogate pregnancy (via Circle Surrogacy). And, of course, trying to find an insurance company that will cover surrogacy is no easy feat. Scott Buckley, vice president of client services at Circle Surrogacy, tells U.S. News that he has known clients that have changed jobs simply to find an employer that covers surrogacy benefits. For the companies that do, most limit reimbursement to $70%, or roughly $10,000 per child.

If you're looking into having a baby via surrogate, the most important thing to know is just how much it's going to cost.

Medical expenses

When you hire someone to be a surrogate, you're not just paying to use their uterus, but you're also paying for all the medical expenses that go with it. For example, embryo creation alone can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 (via US News). From there, things just get more and more expensive.

If there's a need for an egg donor, that's another $20,000 to $30,000. There's no guarantee IVF will work on the first try, for example. Costs can add up quickly given that every cycle can cost somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000. This fee includes ovary stimulation, retrieval, and the transfer of the embryo (via Forbes). There are also nine months of prenatal care and, should there be any issues along the way, costs for prenatal care could be double or even triple what you initially planned for. Then, on the day the baby is actually born, you're looking at an average of $14,768 in hospital fees without insurance and $2,655 with insurance. Should the surrogate require a c-section, those costs rise to an average of $26,280 and $3,200, respectively (via Bloomberg).

What's important to understand is that these are just the average costs. They do not include any miscellaneous medical expenses such as therapy, acupuncture, weekly massages, and so on over the course of the pregnancy. Although these types of things are usually negotiated ahead of time, you never know what might come up and add to the lengthy list of costs.

The fees

If the medical expenses weren't enough, the fees that come with surrogacy are pretty mind-blowing. Even before we get into agency fees and legal fees, there's the compensation for the surrogate to think about. If you hire an experienced surrogate who has proven success rates, the starting price is usually about $40,000, while first-time surrogates start at around $35,000 (via The Surrogacy Experience). Granted, these amounts are contingent on many factors, but location plays a big role. You can expect to pay far more for a surrogate in New York City than for a surrogate in Arkansas, for example.

When looking at agency fees, again, the cost will be based on many factors including location. Broken down, agency fees cover the following services: marketing and advertising, screening applicants and matching them with parents, and support which includes background checks, evaluations, interviews, and other assessments to make sure everything is in order (via American Fertility). While you may find comfort in knowing that this is a fixed cost per agency, each agency charges a different amount for its services.

Because you're dealing with such a precarious situation by asking someone to carry your fetus, either with their egg or yours, hiring a lawyer is essential. Contracts and agreements need to be drawn up to protect everyone involved, and that can cost as much as $20,000 or more, depending on location and the complexity of the contracts (via Circle Surrogacy).

Nothing about the surrogacy journey process is cheap, nor should it be. It's definitely not a job everyone wants to do, but babies are big business. For those who want a family, the costs are worth it.