For many people deciding to start a family, the cost of bringing a new life into the world is, theoretically, “free.” This is because sexual intercourse and the successful fertilization of an egg don’t necessarily cost any money, although the subsequent pregnancy and delivery do.
But for some other couples, even the act of conception is fraught with huge risk, and may even be biologically impossible. Women with medical issues such as a heart condition, or AIDS, for example, put babies at risk by attempting pregnancy. On the other end, women that have had their uterus surgically removed for health reasons, or same-sex male couples, do not have the biological organs necessary for natural pregnancy.
The solution in these instances for hopeful families that want a newborn child is surrogacy. Surrogacy is when another woman agrees to either artificial insemination, or IVF implantation, then, nine months later, gives birth to a child, and unites that newborn with the hopeful parents. As you can imagine, this alternative is not easy nor cheap. But how much does it cost? Here’s a general breakdown.
First Expense: Fertilization Method
The first thing that will need to be figured for a budget is how the method of conception to be used. Of course, the cheapest form of conception—and most emotionally complicated—would be for the hopeful father to have sexual intercourse with a surrogate mother during her fertile period. Most hopeful families today, however, are willing to invest for something more accurate. If the hopeful parents approve of the egg of the surrogate mother being used, then the initial cost is for artificial insemination.
However, if the parents would like the baby to have the genetic characteristics of both parents, exactly as in a traditional pregnancy, then In Vitro Fertilization, IVF would be used. The average cost of IVF is US$12000, but this cost goes up with additional concerns, such as retrieving genetic material from a cryobank, if required. Screening of the egg for genetic disorders such as Cystic Fibrosis is there’s a risk one the parents passing it on can also add to the costs. A cryobank is usually about US$1000 for storage and a few hundred for retrieval, while screening is about US$2500. A full IVF/screening procedure may be US$25000.
Engaging A Surrogate
Once you know what kind of fertilization technique you’ll be using, it’s time for the most significant financial investment, the engagement, and support of a surrogate mother. One of the most efficient ways to find a surrogate other is to use a surrogacy agency. By working with an agency, you get an organization experienced in finding qualified surrogate mother candidates that have all the requirements you’d want, such as successful prior births, and healthy lifestyles with no alcohol or drug consumption. This is an additional cost, but what you lose in money you gain in time and quality.
The cost of the surrogacy itself can widely vary depending on the type of surrogacy. Compensated or altruistic surrogacy means the surrogate mother receives full financial support for living expenses and medical care as the pregnancy progress but makes no profit otherwise. Compensated surrogacy, on the other hand, means that in addition to covering these costs, the surrogate mother herself, she also receives financial recognition for her significant role in this process. In places like the USA, this can mean that a compensated surrogacy start at US$50000, and go possibly go up from there.
Aside from the cost of supporting the surrogate mother during the pregnancy, there may be other financial expenditures to consider. You may need to factor in travel expenses if you need to undertake surrogacy in another country. Some people may need to do this because they live in a country surrogacy is illegal, such as France, or Germany. Other people may do so because they wish to take advantage of the larger pool of candidates that compensated surrogacy offers, but compensated surrogacy is not available in their country, only compassionate surrogacy. However, countries like Georgia are both travel-friendly and offer compensated surrogacy services, which means that traveling will be required.
This can also mean that there may be some legal concerns that will require paying legal services to ensure a smooth path to citizenship for a baby. In some cases, babies born through surrogacy outside their intended nation of residence, may not have citizenship rights granted because precisely because of the conditions of their birth. However, planning and dealing with experienced legal services that know how to navigate these challenges with specific countries can ensure that a child, once born, can return to the intended country without any fears of being declared “stateless” and being unable to enter without more legal intervention.
Surrogacy is never a cheap alternative, but the final amounts can vary a lot depending on the needs and choices that the hopeful family make while they undertake this challenging but rewarding journey.