Ask the Surrogacy Experts

Dear Bill.
I was considering surrogacy to have a baby, and my intention was to use donor eggs. But I would also need the use of donor sperm, and therefore I’ve come to the conclusion that surrogacy may not be the right avenue for me to pursue after all. — Winna


Hello Winna.

I occasionally get messages from single women who are unable to conceive. For women overseas the prospects are not good, because ultimately the baby will not be able to get citizenship unless one of the genetic parents applies at their local embassy. Without citizenship, the baby can’t get a passport and can’t travel home. But the options are better for American women in the same situation.

If the Intended Mother is American (meaning U.S. a citizen residing in the U.S.) then Embryo Adoption is an option that can save some money.

An embryo adoption program works the same as most other surrogacy cycles — except that there is no IVF procedure performed. Instead of going through the sperm donation, egg stimulation and retrieval, and fertilization, the embryos are “adopted” from a local cryobank and transferred to the surrogate. Embryos can be adopted for about $10,000 each — and you would buy one at a time, as your cycle needs them.

There are a couple of benefits to embryo adoption. First is the cost… A typical IVF cycle in the United States can cost around $20,000 USD. There is an additional savings of up to $16,000 USD for the egg donor. If you work with a good clinic with a high success rate (as reported by the CDC), then there is an 80% likelihood that you will only need one embryo. So that is a potential savings of $35,000 USD right there.

The second benefit is timing. A typical IVF cycle can take 3 months, including the testing of the egg donor, her stimulation and egg retrieval, and then the incubation of the embryos. Because there is no IVF procedure, the surrogacy program can begin immediately. This means that if the first embryo transfer is successful, then a pregnancy can be established within just a couple of months of signing the Agreement.

The disadvantage of the embryo adoption program is that the Intended Parents are not genetically related to their baby. This is a non-starter for most couples considering surrogacy — as a genetic relationship is one of the primary reasons couples choose surrogacy. Also if there is no genetic relationship, then overseas couples cannot apply for citizenship “by decent” — meaning the baby is not eligible to get the citizenship of the parents and cannot easily return home with them. (This is not an issue n the United States, where the baby is automatically eligible for US citizenship and can return home on a standard visa.)

Also note that many Embryo Adoption Agencies treat the process similarly to a regular adoption, with the donating family having a say in where their embryos get placed. It’s not uncommon for the agency to require the receiving Intended Family to complete a “Home Study” course on parenting, as well as background check and psychological evaluation before the donating family agree to let their embryos be placed. If that’s the case, a Home Study course can cost from $1500 to $3000 USD, and can take 2 to 3 months to complete. However there are some cryobanks that will facilitate an embryo adoption more directly.

I hope this is helpful.


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