Building a family is a big dream for most couples. However, many couples find that the process of having a child can be a challenge due to multiple reasons. In such cases, they have to rely on a surrogate to carry their child. But surrogacy is a complex process; it encompasses many emotional and legal aspects. Also important is the gestational surrogacy cost which may be substantial. Let us discuss what gestational surrogacy is and how a couple can proceed to make the best use of it.
Gestational surrogacy is an arrangement between a couple (known as intended parents) and a woman (gestational carrier or surrogate) where the woman will carry and deliver a child for the couple. The gestational carrier is not linked to the child genetically and in strict terms only offers her uterus for implantation of the couple’s embryo to carry it to term.
Gestational Surrogacy Costs: How Much Do You Pay for What
There are many factors that impact the total costs of surrogacy. To understand the costs, couples need to understand the breakdown of these costs vis-a-vis the services offered.
Fertility clinics usually do not find surrogates for you. However, they may help connect the intended parents to surrogacy agencies that have a list of potential surrogates to choose from. RISE Fertility has a nationwide network of top surrogate agencies and can help find the right surrogate for you. Agency fees may vary from $15000 to $30000 depending upon what services they are offering – whether you are choosing from their database, or asking them to advertise your specific requirements in an effort to find the right surrogate through marketing efforts.
Surrogacy is a complex process and takes a mental and physical toll on the woman you are asking to take your embryo to term. Surrogate compensation may vary depending upon a variety of personal and other factors and can range between $30,000 to $75,000. Compensation can be a bit lower for first-time surrogates and higher for experienced surrogates. Compensation is also higher for multiple pregnancies. The area in which you are trying to find a surrogate also matters.
These include fees for all medical costs – from screening tests of intended parents and the surrogate to the IVF procedure to tests and medications during pregnancy and finally the delivery of the child and other hospital bills. These can vary depending upon what tests, medical procedures, and medications are done, used, and given respectively. For instance, the average cost of a single IVF cycle can be between $12,000 to $17,000.
Medical Insurance Costs
This is an additional expense and can add from $15,000 to $30,000 to total expenses for either additional health insurance or special cover for surrogate pregnancy.
Surrogacy is a complex legal process. There are no federal guidelines and the law surrounding surrogacy is different in different states. To navigate the differing laws and to protect the interests of all stakeholders, it is advisable to have legal representation from both sides – the intended parents as well as the surrogate. If the surrogate was found through an agency, legal fees can be shared by the intended parents and the agency. This will be then added to the agency fees. On average, legal fees can add another $15,000 to the total costs.
These may majorly include travel costs and costs for counseling. Other miscellaneous costs may include maternity clothing and other services (massage, etc.) during pregnancy, lost wages (if the surrogate is advised bed rest for additional days post pregnancy), payment for breast milk, and so on. Such non-medical expenses and allowances usually amount to another $10,000 to $15,000.
Why Gestational Surrogacy?
The reasons for using gestational surrogacy to build families can be manifold.
- The female partner does not have a uterus (due to a previous hysterectomy, or surgical removal of the uterus)
- The female partner may have uterine anomalies that do not allow her to get pregnant
- The female partner is unable to carry a pregnancy to term safely
- The couple have tried different fertility treatments which have failed, leaving gestational surrogacy the only option
- The intended parents are a gay couple or is a single male.
How Does Gestational Surrogacy Work?
If you have decided to go the gestational surrogacy route, let’s take a look at how to get started and what the process entails.
Finding the Right Gestational Carrier
Whether you are using the services of an agency or are asking a friend or a relative, ensure that the woman is emotionally and physically healthy, is between 21 and 45 years of age, has previously given birth without any complications to a healthy child, and has a caring and supportive family.
Getting Professional Counseling
Before proceeding, it is advisable to see a fertility counselor, who is usually an expert from the clinic whose services you will be using. You and your partner as well as the surrogate need to understand the various physical, mental, emotional, and financial implications of the entire process.
Medical Exam for Intended Parents and Surrogate
As intended parents, if you are using your own eggs and sperm, you will need to get a thorough fertility testing and genetic testing is done to ensure that you are healthy and ready for the if process.
The surrogate mother will have to undergo a complete medical examination along with a drug screen. Her partner (or spouse) will also be required to undergo a medical screening and psychological evaluation.
Completing Legal Formalities
You will then need to sign a legal surrogacy agreement that protects the rights of both parties and ensure that there are no conflicts of interest in the future.
Starting the IVF Process
Once all the pre-process formalities have been completed, your fertility expert will begin the IVF process.
If you are using your own eggs, as well as your partner’s sperm, you and the gestational carrier will be given fertility medication to synchronize your menstrual cycles – while your body gets ready to produce eggs, her body will begin to get ready to accept the embryo.
When your eggs mature, they will be collected and fertilized with your partner’s sperm to form embryos. The embryo(s) are then transferred to the uterus of the surrogate.
If you are using your own (or donor) frozen eggs, the surrogate will have to take medication over a few weeks to prepare for a successful embryo transfer. When she is ready, the frozen eggs from the egg donor will be thawed and mixed with sperm to produce embryos. Similarly, if you are using donor sperm, the sperm will be thawed and mixed with your eggs. The resultant embryos will then be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.
If the embryo(s) implants successfully in the womb of the surrogate, it leads to a clinical pregnancy. If the embryo implantation fails for some reason, the process has to be repeated.
Time and Effort Involved in Gestational Surrogacy
Apart from the financial implications of using a gestational surrogate, there are other considerations with regard to time and efforts (physical and mental). The process of finding and zeroing on a suitable surrogate itself may take weeks, even months. After all the formalities are done, it may take from three to four if cycles to achieve a successful pregnancy. A single IVF cycle takes around four to six weeks.
From the time you decide to use a surrogate till the birth of your child, the surrogacy journey is a long process and you should be prepared to invest time and effort in it.
RISE Fertility: The Team in Your Corner
At RISE, we are partners in your journey towards parenthood. Whether you are a heterosexual couple with infertility issues or a same-sex couple intending to build a family, our skilled team is always at your side.
Apart from a range of services, we also offer third-party fertility options, including achieving pregnancy through a gestational carrier. What’s more, we have our own in-house financing options because we believe that nothing must come between you and your dream of building your family.
Schedule a consult with your RISE Fertility physician today.
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