For most people, having a child is, one sense, “free.” The act of sexual intercourse normally doesn’t cost any money between a couple, and the process of a sperm being introduced to an egg, fertilizing it, and then attaching to a uterus to grow, over a period of nine months, also doesn’t technically cost any money. All of these biological activities take place on their own, without any money needing to change hands to see the process completed.
However, for some couples, traditional childbirth to start a family isn’t a readily available option. An older couple, for example, may want to have another child, but be strongly advised against it, because of the age of the mother puts her own health—and that of a baby—at risk. In other cases, a woman may have had an illness, such as uterine cancer, that required the uterus to be surgically removed, thus rendering her incapable of carrying a child to term and giving birth.
In situations where traditional childbirth methods are too risky, or even medically impossible, surrogacy provides a solution. However, where traditional childbirth is “free” at the most fundamental level of using the human reproductive process as intended, surrogacy is not. Depending on the type of surrogacy employed, such as gestational surrogacy with preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and in vitro fertilization, costs can rise. Combined with the possibility of needing to travel to another country, legal fees, and perhaps even screening of surrogate candidates, or even sperm/egg donors, even more expenses can add up.
The Cost Of Childbirth
Of course, in another sense, childbirth itself is hardly free, unless a couple wishes to take enormous risks with the health of a child. While sexual intercourse and the fertilization of an egg don’t cost money, the medical care and supervision required during the course of pregnancy do. The food and nutrition of a mother as she carries the baby to term also costs money, since, if the mother doesn’t eat, both she and the baby starve to death. And of course, a medically supervised birth in a hospital also costs money. So in truth, there are many additional costs that come with even traditional childbirth. But what about surrogacy?
There are certainly many possible associated expenses that come with surrogacy. The fertilization of an egg, for example, costs, on average about $8000. If this is gestational surrogacy, that requires sperm/egg donations, or even retrieval from a cryobank for preserved sperm/egg specimens, that cost goes up. If genetic screening is desired to ensure that inherited disorders aren’t present, like cystic fibrosis or Down’s Syndrome if one or both members of the couple have a family history, that’s an added cost.
Moreover, of course, there is still the additional, expected cost for traditional childbirth, with medical care and supervision during pregnancy. Then the medically supervised birth to ensure proper care and health for both the surrogate mother and the baby.
If all of this sounds like a big financial commitment, it is. But some people may ask, “Is there a way to lower the cost of surrogacy? Is it possible to have a low-cost surrogacy experience?”
The answer to that is, “It may be possible to lower the costs, but you may not be happy with the results.” And here’s why.
Cutting Corners Raises Risk
No one should ever come into surrogacy with the mindset of a thrifty investor looking to get the cheapest result possible. This is because unlike building a cheap home that may ultimately look undesirable and in poor condition, trying to phase out costs wherever possible in surrogacy may impact the survival of the baby until birth.
For example, one way to lower the cost of surrogacy is to eliminate the screening process for finding a surrogate. Traditional/compassionate surrogacy often does this by approaching someone close to the hopeful family, such as another family member or friend. While this eliminates what could be the sizable cost finding a candidate, it still doesn’t address the cost of implanting a fertilized egg. In a normal surrogate situation, the egg is collected from a surrogate mother, and fertilized in vitro, in lab conditions to guarantee fertilization, medically confirm it, then implant the fertilized egg into the surrogate mother.
To eliminate this cost means undertaking traditional sexual intercourse with the surrogate mother and “hoping for the best” when it comes to the actual state of pregnancy. This solution, while clearly cheaper, is not efficient, and could actually create marital problems for the couple involved if repeated sexual intercourse is taking place just to save money.
Another way to cut costs is to eliminate medical care, and even a medically supervised birth, and attempt to give birth to the baby at home. Of course, going nine months without the guidance of an obstetrician and then attempting home childbirth without paying for even an experienced midwife once again puts the health—and even lives—of both the surrogate mother and baby at risk. This is why an experienced surrogacy group that offers a range of services is always worth the price.