For most people, deciding to start a family begins with allowing the woman in the couple to become pregnant, and then, nine months later, giving birth to a child, and a new phase of life begins. For other couples, unfortunately, the old fashioned way of doing things may not be most the feasible way, and there can be any number of reasons for this.
Medically, a hopeful family may be advised not to undertake pregnancy and childbirth because it poses too many health risks for the mother and/or the baby. If a mother is diagnosed with a heart condition, as one example, then the demands of pregnancy may be too much for her body to cope with, and she could seriously endanger her life and the child’s. On the other side of the equation, a natural pregnancy might no longer be biologically possible, despite being medically healthy. A woman may have been diagnosed with uterine cancer, and though she is healthy now, the surgery involved to save her life removed her uterus. Similarly, same-sex male couples cannot have a traditional pregnancy since neither partner has a uterus in which to nurture a child.
For couples with a strong wish to have a newborn child with genetic characteristics of the hopeful family, adoption, while a common solution, is not the ideal one for this situation. Instead, surrogacy, that is, the process of finding a willing surrogate mother, is the better alternative.
Surrogate motherhood, however, can be an expensive investment. But just how expensive can it get? We’re here to break down the surrogacy costs to make it easier to understand what kind of finances are involved.
One of the bigger expenses will be determined by the type of fertilization method a hopeful family wishes to use. Traditional surrogacy involves the surrogate mother using her egg, while donated sperm, usually from the hopeful father of the couple, is artificially inseminated. Costs may rise if a couple wishes to use donor sperm from another source, or they may drop if the couple decides to forgo artificial insemination and have the hopeful father have actual sexual intercourse with the surrogate mother, though this is an extremely rare choice in the 21st century.
On the other end of the spectrum is gestational surrogacy. With this method, the sperm and egg from the hopeful couple, or other selected donors, is used. The egg and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory to confirm fertilization and viability through a process known as In Vitro Fertilization. Once fertilization has occurred, the egg is implanted in the surrogate mother. On average, one IVF process costs about USD 12,000.
This cost, however, can go up if additional considerations are required, such as screening or specimen retrieval. Specimen retrieval is required if the father, mother, or both, have stored their egg or sperm cryogenically. A woman that has undergone removal of her ovaries, for example, may have had her eggs removed and preserved for a future date so she could still bear her own genetically connected children. The same goes for a man who may have been diagnosed with testicular cancer. Usually, removal of a specimen costs an additional USD 1000.
Screening, either through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or screening, is a way to ensure that a genetic disorder that may affect the family, such as cystic fibrosis, or Down’s Syndrome, is not passed on to the baby. An IVF egg is examined to determine whether the undesirable condition has been expressed or not. In some cases, parents opt for multiple IVF fertilizations to ensure that even if one of the eggs carries the condition, one of the others will not. A screening can cost about USD 2500, and a full IVF procedure with screening may total USD 25000.
Working With An Agency
There is also the additional cost of working with a surrogate mother. The safest way to do this, with the best success rate, is to engage the services of a surrogacy agency or clinic. This is because when you work with an experienced organization, they take care of important factors like screening for lifestyle and medical suitability so that you don’t have to administrate these tasks yourself.
Your biggest cost here will be whether you choose to go with a compassionate or compensated surrogacy. In a compassionate surrogacy, the surrogate mother only accepts money for her primary needs, such as living expenses as the pregnancy progress, and, of course, medical costs like check-ups, and the birth of the baby. With a compensated surrogacy, however, the surrogate mother’s contribution is also recognized financially, and she profits from her efforts, with a payment that goes to her similar to a business transaction for a product or service. Compensated surrogacies may average USD 50,000 or more, depending on the part of the world.
Additional finances come into play, such as the living expenses for the surrogate mother, and the costs of travel and accommodation if you go to another country for the surrogacy. There may also be legal costs to settle the citizenship status of the child, but much of this can be handled by a single agency if you find one with the right range of services.