People who are thinking about working with a surrogate mother to start a family are obviously not taking the easy route. However, while a natural pregnancy between a man and woman is the more common outcome, for some people, it may not always be feasible for all, especially for medical reasons. Some women may have medical conditions that jeopardize a pregnancy, while same-sex male couples simply don’t have a uterus available in which a fertilized egg can safely nurture to be born nine months later.
This is where surrogacy comes in. Surrogate motherhood is when another woman, healthy, usually with a history of at least one successful birth already, agrees to undertake a pregnancy on behalf of a couple wishing to become a family. Once the baby is born, the newborn child is then united with his or her intended parents.
However, surrogacy, because of the extra time, effort and resources involved is often a far more significant financial investment than natural childbirth. But how? And why? What are the extra costs that a hopeful family must consider for their financial outlook if they want to have a baby through surrogate motherhood?
The First Expense: Egg & Sperm
Before any other finances can be considered, the question that needs to be answered is the preference for the genetics of the newborn. If the hopeful family want the egg used in the process to be that of the surrogate mother, and the hopeful father, this is probably the “cheapest” outcome. On the other hand, if the hopeful family wants a gestational surrogacy, this adds to the expense considerably.
Gestational surrogacy is when the sperm of the hopeful father and the egg of the hopeful mother are used. The samples are put into laboratory conditions, where in vitro fertilization occurs, and is carefully supervised and confirmed. If this type of in vitro fertilization is chosen, the average cost is about USD 12000. However, this also changes, depending on the nature of the sperm and egg used.
If the sperm and egg are collected on request, everything goes according to plan. But in some cases, the sperm or egg may not be immediately available due to medical considerations. Some men or women may have been diagnosed with cancer, and thus had life-saving surgery to the testicles or ovaries that render them infertile. In these cases, they may have had their sperm or egg removed and stored in a “cryo-bank” to eventually be used at a later date for something like in vitro fertilization. In these cases, there is an additional cost for retrieval of the samples and subsequent safe delivery and restoration of viability for fertilization. The storage of sperm and/or egg in a cryobank generally runs over USD 1000 for a few years, with a “withdrawal” a few hundred. These costs may go up if more eggs are required.
There is also an additional cost consideration for PGS or PGD, these stand for pre-implantation genetic screening, and diagnosis, respectively. This is sometimes requested if a mother or father has a genetic disorder in their family, such as cystic fibrosis that has a chance of being passed on to a fertilized egg. The screening process detects the presence of such disorders, giving the family the option to consider choosing another egg if an undesirable genetic disorder is detected. Screening can cost about USD 2500 for screening a set of eggs, though the cost may go up depending on the specific conditions being screened.
A full IVF procedure, complete with PGD/S may average about USD 25000.
The Surrogate Mother
Then there is the cost of the surrogate mother and her pregnancy. The cost for supporting a surrogate mother varies widely based on whether the surrogacy is compassionate/altruistic, or not. Compassionate surrogacy, or altruistic, as it is sometimes called, means the surrogate mother agrees to undertake the pregnancy without any kind of financial compensation. The hopeful family, of course, will still support her medical costs, and likely her living expenses to keep herself fed and sheltered while carrying the baby, but otherwise, there is no additional financial incentive.
On the other hand, a compensated, or for-profit surrogacy means that the surrogate mother is taking the approach of a business transaction, with an expectation of profit. This can means that surrogacy all by itself may cost USD 50000 or more, depending on the part of the world that it takes place in.
The Ancillary Costs
This is then combined with the additional support costs, such as living expenses, medical check-ups, counseling, and, of course, hospitalization and a medically supervised childbirth. These costs vary with the country chosen, but that may also bring with it additional expenses like travel to the country of origin, and even legal administration to ensure the proper legal and citizenship status of the newborn. All of this, however, can easily be financed and handled by one surrogacy agency if you find one with the right range of services.