How Much is a Surrogate Mother Paid?

Your surrogate mother is paid $50,000 to $70,000 USD for a typical U.S. journey; that’s nearly one-half of your total surrogacy budget. Overseas, surrogates are paid almost the same but adjusted for the cost of living. That’s about $15,000 to $17,000 USD. Total costs can be separated into “Base Salary” and “Benefits”.

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Also in The Cost Guide:

 


Understanding Surrogate Pay

A surrogate mother in the United States makes from $35,000 to $45,000 paid in a monthly salary. She also gets paid another $5,000 to $10,000 USD in various benefits. In comparison a new elementary teacher is paid just $41,000 USD per year, according to PayScale.com. Surrogates also demand a lot of extras, including clothes, transportation, lost wages, household expenses, and more.

But aside from financial rewards, many women experience great satisfaction from helping childless couples. That makes being a surrogate mother a meaningful alternative to other forms of less-skilled or part-time work. While this article reviews your surrogate’s monetary expenses, it’s important to keep in mind the non-financial benefits that she provides and requires!
 

Surrogate pay in the United States

Surrogate mothers overseas typically earn the same as their U.S. counterparts, but differences in cost of living, costs of medical care, and legal expenses, make surrogate costs much more affordable for Western couples.

Your surrogacy agent may tell you that compensation is just $35,000 USD, but you also need to calculate the cost of benefits. Benefits are not optional — some are required by law, and others have become expected expenses. All are required if you want to make a competitive offer to your surrogate (and not have her reject your offer and look for other Intended Parents).
Surrogate-Mother-Cost-Graph
 

What benefits does a Surrogate receive?

The list below is a common benefits package offered to a surrogate mother. These benefits are not optional in a competitive contract, but the amounts may be negotiated.
 

  • In addition to her total compensation, surrogates are given money each month to cover the expenses of “being pregnant”. Expect this to be $200 to $300 in the US.
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  • Maternity clothes: This is usually a one-time fee once the surrogate begins “to show” the pregnancy. It’s usually from $500 to $750 in the United States.
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  • Start Medication fee: Every time a surrogate start taking medication, she’s entitled to a small fee of about $500 USD. This is justified because she may be asked to start some meds, but then the cycle may be cancelled — and she would have gone through the difficulty of taking the injections and not receive any compensation.
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  • Embryo Transfer Fee: Similar to the Start Meds fee (above), the surrogate is also entitled to a small fee every time she undergoes an embryo transfer procedure. This can be $1,000 to $2,000 USD.
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  • Travel Expenses: If your surrogate needs to travel more than 50 miles for a clinic appointment, she is entitled to travel expenses. If she needs to stay overnight, expect these expenses to include child care for her children, as well as housekeeping if she’s gone for a few days. This amount will vary depending on your surrogate and where she lives relative to the clinic.
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  • Insurance Premiums: It’s unlikely that your surrogate will have insurance that will cover your surrogacy pregnancy. So plan to include about $8,000 to $10,000 in your budget for insurance premiums.
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  • NOTE: Even if your surrogate has insurance, most insurance policies will include some co-payment or deductible. The amount you will have to pay depends on the policy. Some policies ask you to pay a co-payment of $25 to $50 for each prenatal visit to your obstetrician. Others have a deductible and won’t pay anything until you have paid at least $5000 out of your own pocket first.

    To understand your own costs, check out this article about Medical Insurance for your Surrogate in the Surrogacy Cost Guide.

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  • Bonuses/Gifts: While not mandatory, many parents like to offer a ‘signing bonus’ of $1,500 USD to entice their surrogate to come work with them. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a cash payment — bonuses can take the form of gifts, wellness packages, monthly spa treatments, and other types of gifts that make being pregnant a little easier to endure.

 

Surrogate Pay Abroad

Surrogate compensation overseas is about $15,000, which is the equivalent of about $45,000 USD in the United States when adjusted for the local cost of living.

According the United States Consumer Prices Index (Including Rent)…

  • Consumer Prices in Bogota are 63% lower than in Los Angeles
  • Consumer Prices Including Rent in Kiev are 70% lower than those in Los Angeles
  • Rent Prices in Kiev are just 20% of those in Los Angeles
  • Restaurant Prices in Bogota are 73 less than in Los Angeles
  • Groceries Prices in Kiev are 60% lower than in Los Angeles

Similar figures are available for all our overseas destinations, where cost of living is much lower than in the US.

In addition, a surrogate mother overseas receives a housing stipend, medical care, food, transportation expenses, and other benefits as part of her agreement. In a typical US program, surrogates would pay those costs either themselves, or they would be additional expenses charged to the Intended Parents. So in all, the overseas surrogate may be better compensated than US surrogates.

Make the cost of living comparison yourself, and you can see that finding a surrogate mother overseas not only can make it affordable to start your family abroad, but also often provides an excellent opportunity for your surrogate.
 


Being a Surrogate for a Friend: The Hidden Costs

Being a surrogate mother is a special act of generosity, but that gift comes with a price tag. If you are considering being a surrogate for a friend, there are some costs you will pay out of your own pocket. The total cost of being a surrogate depends on your personal situation:
 

1. Does your current medical insurance cover a pregnancy

Not all insurance policies cover maternity care, and those that do, often exclude surrogacy pregnancies. If your insurance will cover the pregnancy, then you are in good shape.

The typical insurance will cover all of your prenatal care, including office visits, ultrasound exams, and (eventually) the delivery. 

Most insurance policies will include some co-payment or deductible.  The amount you will have to pay depends on the policy.  Some policies ask you to pay a co-payment of $25 to $50 for each prenatal visit to your obstetrician.  Others have a deductible and won’t pay anything until you have paid at least $5000 out of your own pocket first.  To understand your own costs, you should talk with your insurance provider.

Obviously the Intended Parents should pay any deductible or co-payment.  In the commercial surrogacy world, it’s common for the Intended Parents to pay for your health insurance premiums while you are pregnant (since they are the ones taking advantage of that service).  They should offer… but if they don’t, subtly bring up the subject of your insurance costs.  It’s not rude to suggest they chip in on the costs given the effort you are making for them — perhaps to pay just half the insurance premiums.

You also need to find an obstetrician to care for you during the pregnancy.  Maybe your current OBGYN can manage this, or refer you to a good obstetrician if she can’t.  Your obstetrician should have treatment privileges at a local hospital –and that is probably where you will deliver the baby. Check with both the doctor and the hospital if they will accept your health insurance.  If not, you may need to find another doctor or hospital. There’s a full discussion about the surrogate’s compensation and benefits in the Surrogacy Guide.
 

2. What other costs will you encounter?

Other than the prenatal care and delivery, there are some additional expenses you should be aware of.  Most official surrogacy contracts will include these fees as “out of pocket” expenses.  They include:

  • Maternity clothes.  Yep, none of your clothes are going to fit after the first couple of months. Plan on a whole new wardrobe of comfortable and practical clothes. This is usually about $500 in a typical contract.
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  • Medications.  This can be $2,000 to $4000 in injections to prepare your uterus for the embryo transfer.  After the transfer, there are vitamins and some hormone supplements, which can cost $500 or more.
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  • If you get sick during the pregnancy, the doctor may recommend bed rest.  That means she may be out several days of salary from her job — which can be a big blow to the family budget. That’s why most surrogacy contracts include payments for Loss of Work.
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  • If you are married and your husband needs to stay home and look after you, then his lost wages are an additional expense as well.  Most surrogacy contracts limit Loss of Wages to just a few weeks of lost work, or alternatively a simple maximum amount to be paid (about $5000 is a typical number).
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  • Alternatively, if the doctor recommends bed rest, the Intended Parents can chip in for a weekly housekeeper to do the household chores you now can’t.  Consider a few hundred dollars for that. (And be sure to add daycare or babysitting charges as well).
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  • Bed rest can also be prescribed after the delivery as well (especially if you have a C-section).  You may find yourself unable to work for 2 to 3 weeks if the pregnancy is difficult.
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  • Depending on where your obstetrician is, you may have significant travel expenses. (You can ask the Intended Parents for travel expenses for gas and mileage.)

 

3. Negotiated fees in the Surrogacy Agreement

You may be lucky enough to be working with a friend, and you can discuss these possible costs in a friendly conversation.  But the final recommendation is the most important… It’s critical that all these agreements are written down so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding during the pregnancy.

Regardless of the personal relationship between the Surrogate Mother and the Intended Parents, every surrogate should sign a simple Surrogacy Agreement.

The Surrogacy Agreement should make clear what will be your future relationship to the child. You will not be the legal mother, but will the baby know the role you played in its birth?  Will you be the “Cool Aunt” or just a friend of the family?  Will you get to visit the child regularly?  What are the limits? What if the family moves away, can you still come visit?

The Surrogacy Agreement will also manage expectations about the pregnancy itself.  Will the Intended Parents insist that the surrogate changes her diet (no more tuna sandwiches or packaged lunch meats!)?  Will they object if she travels on an airplane during the final trimester?  What if the surrogate wants to go to Mexico or the Florida Keys where Zika mosquitoes still persist?  Will both parents be present in the delivery room?  Will they want the surrogate to breastfeed (which can be problematic, by the way).

A Surrogacy Agreement is a bit like a prenuptial agreement — nobody thinks it will be necessary, and in most cases it may not be. But if it becomes necessary, it is REALLY necessary!  The Agreement forces everyone to put all of their expectations out on the table.  It protects against misunderstandings that can devastate a friendship. There are many examples of entire families torn apart over the very emotional topic of a baby.  It would be a shame to see such an act of love and generosity have such a painful final result.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry
 


Finding an Affordable Surrogate Mother

If you don’t want to spend an exorbitant fee to a surrogacy agency, you can look for your own surrogate online. The most popular places are dedicated groups on Facebook and similar social networks. You can find a list of groups just by searching with the keyword “Surrogate Mother”. But manage your expectations– there are far more parents looking for surrogates than vice versa. Be prepared for a long wait, and make special efforts to “sell yourself” to surrogate candidates who are often approached by many parents.

Other strategies include looking locally using traditional advertising methods. One of my clients found a surrogate by posting a flier at the local grocery store.

When looking for a surrogate be careful… Many times women in social groups are available because they don’t meet the minimum criteria needed to be matched by a professional agency. They may live in state that is not “surrogacy-friendly”, or maybe they’ve been rejected by agencies for health issues. You should compare each surrogate candidate that replies to your search against this list of surrogate qualifications.
 

Freelance Surrogate Recruiters

If you continue to have problems finding a surrogate, but still want to steer clear of an agency, you can hire a surrogate recruiter directly. There are freelance recruiters who support Independent Surrogacy journeys. (As an example, Sensible’s own Indy Baby program includes an independent surrogacy recruiter who can find your surrogate for a modest fee.) Once you find your surrogate, you can work with her directly or hire other freelance service providers to assist with the rest of your journey.

Surrogate recruiters may charge from $6,000 to $10,000 to find a qualified surrogate. In addition, the matching process also includes costs for medical, psychological and legal clearances. Here is a quick summary of the costs for your surrogate mother.
 


Frequent Questions about Your Surrogate Mother

How much are Surrogate Mothers paid?

Your surrogate mother will comprise about one-half of your total surrogacy budget. In the US, that’s $50,000 to $70,000 USD for a typical journey. Overseas, surrogates are paid about $13,000 to $16,000.

How to find an affordable Surrogate Mother?

You can find your own surrogate online. The most popular places are dedicated groups on Facebook and similar social networks. Other strategies include looking locally using traditional classified advertising methods.

How to find medical insurance for your surrogate?

Most potential surrogates don't have insurance that will include maternity care. For those with insurance, most policies include co-payments and deductibles of $5000 or more. A specialized insurance consultant can sport through the options to find a 'friendly' policy.

What are the qualifications to be a Surrogate?

It's not easy to become a surrogate mother. Every surrogate must have had her own successful pregnancy, be financially self-supportive, have a healthy lifestyle, live in a 'surrogacy friendly' jurisdiction, and pass strict medical and psychological evaluations.

Are Surrogate Mothers treated ethically?

Yes! Ethical Surrogacy is focused on the physical and emotional health of the surrogate mother. Advocates of Ethical Surrogacy make special efforts to ensure the complete total well being of these important women. Surrogates have great autonomy, receive special care and counseling throughout the journey and are well paid.

What does a Surrogate Mother have to do?

Surrogate mothers are required to undergo several medical tests and procedures plus take fertility medications throughout the process. Because their health is so central to a successful journey, it is closely monitored throughout the entire surrogacy process. But there are also psychological evaluations, interviews with the Intended Parents, and complex legal agreements.

About the authors

  • William (Bill) Houghton
  • Author: William (Bill) Houghton

    Bill Houghton is the founder of Sensible Surrogacy, author of the Sensible Surrogacy Guide, 2x surrogacy dad, and a dedicated advocate for secure, legal and ethical Gestational Surrogacy. Read Bill's Biography

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