Many couples dealing with infertility, or the inability to conceive despite having regular unprotected sex, consider alternative methods of reproduction. Chief among them is intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). But these procedures aren’t available for couples who can’t bear children for the following reasons:
In such cases, prospective parents might hire a surrogate to carry and deliver their child. Sometimes friends and family members step up to become a surrogate, but a couple usually works with a gestational carrier agency. These agencies require women to complete extensive medical and psychological examinations before becoming surrogates. If you’re thinking about a surrogate pregnancy, here’s everything you need to know about how much surrogates make.
The Costs of Gestational Surrogacy
“Surrogacy is a journey in which there are a lot of different costs for a lot of different people,” says Sam Hyde, president of Circle Surrogacy in Boston, Massachusetts. He breaks down the total cost of surrogacy like this:
Hyde expects surrogacy to total $140,000 - $150,000 for a couple creating embryos, considering the surrogate mother gets pregnant on her first round of IVF treatment.
How Much Does a Surrogate Mother Make?
As Hyde outlined above, surrogate mother pay usually falls around $45,000. The exact amount of compensation depends on three main factors: geographic location, surrogate experience, and insurance.
In addition to base compensation, a surrogate mother might charge contingency fees for certain birthing scenarios. For example, she’ll get extra money for having a C-section, carrying twins, and undergoing procedures like amniocentesis. Intended parents will likely deal with contingency information in the surrogacy contract.
What About Pregnancy-Related Expenses?
A surrogate’s payment includes money for pregnancy necessities, such as maternity clothes, prenatal vitamins, travel expenses, childcare, and counseling. “Rather than having the surrogate submitting receipts for things like maternity clothing, a couple can allocate money towards that in their contract,” explains Hyde. Alternatively, a couple may choose to reimburse surrogacy-related expenses as they come up.
When Does a Surrogate Receive Payment?
Payments are usually made in monthly installments throughout the pregnancy. “Take the total payment and divide it by nine months,” says Hyde, adding that contingency fees may be sorted after delivery. (Note that all clinics work in different ways, so you should contact your clinic for more details on payment schedules.)
What if the IVF Cycle is Unsuccessful?
According to a 2015 study by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), IVF has a 50.2% success rate with fresh donor eggs and a 38.3% success rate with frozen donor eggs. So what does a surrogate get paid if the IVF doesn’t take? “The surrogate would've been paid to go a medical screening and get the embryo transfer, but she wouldn't receive any additional compensation if the transfer failed,” says Hyde. He adds that performing subsequent IVF cycles will raise the cost of surrogacy, because you’ll need to pay for additional procedures. You might also need to shell out for the extraction of more eggs, depending on whether you have any left over from the first round of IVF.
- The woman’s uterus is damaged or nonexistent
- Embryos won’t implant in the uterus, despite attempting natural conception and IVF
- The pregnancy would be high-risk due to existing medical conditions
- The couple is homosexual
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Surrogate Mother Compensation: Around $45,000
Insurance: $15,000 - $20,000, depending on policies
Professional Agency Fees: $50,000, plus or minus $5,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of program and surrogacy agency used. “The agency fee encompasses legal work, social work, accounting work, and program coordination over a 16-21 month period,” says Hyde.
Medical Care and IVF Procedure: $7,000-$12,000 if the couple is using their own embryos; $30,000 - $35,000 if they must create an embryo
Egg Donor: $20,000 - $25,000 (Egg donors may me necessary if the couple is homosexual or the mother’s eggs can’t otherwise be used.)
Geography: “Some states have higher demand for surrogates and/or a better statute in place to do the legal work for parentage” explains Hyde. For these reasons, he cites California as one of the highest-paying states for surrogates.
Experience: “Experienced surrogates tend to demand a slightly higher fee – usually $5,000 more,” says Hyde.
Insurance: If the surrogate has health insurance that covers maternity care, she typically gets paid more.
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