How Much Will Your Surrogate Cost?

The average cost of a surrogate mother is $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 on average. Total surrogate pay can be separated into “Base Salary” and “Benefits”.

surrogate mother and parent

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Also in The Cost Guide:

 


Understanding Surrogate Pay

A typical 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”. An average monthly allowance is $200 to $300 in the US.
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  • Maternity clothes: This is 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

An average surrogate overseas costs 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.
 


The Cost of Surrogacy with a Friend or Family Member

Being a surrogate mother for a friend or family member is a special act of generosity, but that gift comes with a price tag. Even if you hire a friend to carry your pregnancy, there are still costs you should expect. These are costs that your friend initially may pay out of her own pocket. As the Intended Parent, your obligation is to reimburse her for all of these expenses.

The total cost of being a surrogate depends on the personal situation of your friend or family member. Here’s a summary:
 

Does your friend’s current medical insurance cover a surrogate pregnancy?

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

The typical insurance will cover all of the prenatal care, including office visits, ultrasound exams, and (eventually) the delivery. Complications and non-standard treatments may be extra, usually with a hefty deductible or co-payment.

Most insurance policies will include some co-payment or deductible.  The amount you or your surrogate/friend will have to pay depends on the policy.  Some policies ask her to pay a co-payment of $25 to $50 for each prenatal visit to her obstetrician.  Others have a deductible and won’t pay anything until ash has paid at least $5000 out of her own pocket first.  To understand the total costs, you should talk with the 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 the surrogate’s health insurance premiums while she is pregnant (since they are the ones taking advantage of that service).  You should offer to pay the full insurance premiums, but if your friend’s insurance also covers her entire family (and a lot of non-pregnancy treatments) then you may agree to pay a portion of the costs. Even if your friend would pay for the insurance premium anyway, you should still chip in given the effort she are making for your — perhaps to pay just half the insurance premiums.

You also need to find an obstetrician to care for your surrogate/friend during the pregnancy.  Maybe her current OBGYN can manage this, or she may refer you to a good obstetrician if she can’t.  The chosen obstetrician should have treatment privileges at a local hospital –and that is probably where your friend will deliver the baby. Check with both the doctor and the hospital if they will accept the 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.
 

What other surrogacy costs will your friend 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 friend’s clothes are going to fit after the first trimester of pregnancy. 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 the surrogate’s 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 your friend gets 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. This benefit can cost thousands of dollars depending on your friend’s current wages and how long she is under bedrest.
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  • If you friend is married and her husband needs to stay home and look after her, 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 your surrogate/friend 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 the baby arrives via a C-section).  Your freind may be unable to work for 2 to 3 weeks if the pregnancy is difficult.
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  • Depending on where the obstetrician is, your friend may have significant travel expenses. (The Intended Parents should reimburse for travel expenses for gas and mileage.)

 

Negotiated fees in the surrogacy agreement

If you’re lucky enough to have a friend as your surrogate, 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 surrogate-friend’s future relationship to the child. She will not be the legal mother, but will the baby know the role she played in its birth?  Will she be the “Cool Aunt” or just a friend of the family?  Will she get to visit the child regularly?  What are the limits? What if the family moves away, can she still come visit?

The Surrogacy Agreement will also manage expectations about the pregnancy itself.  Will you insist that your surrogate/friend 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 your friend wants to go to Mexico or the Florida Keys where Zika mosquitoes still persist?  Will she be comfortable with both parents in the delivery room… with a camera?  Will you want your friend 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 Costs

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 $60,000 for a typical journey. Overseas, surrogates are paid about $13,000 to $16,000. A surrogate’s total compensation consists of her salary, benefits and medical insurance expenses.

How much is a Surrogate’s ‘base salary’?

Surrogates earn a salary in the U.S. of about $40,000 for a typical journey, but that figure depends on her specific qualifications. Repeat surrogates (who have previously completed a journey) will ask about $10,000 extra. Surrogates in high-demand areas (like California or New England) often charge up to $13,000 more. Surrogates with their own health insurance will also ask about $5,000 extra. A full detail of your surrogate’s budget is shown in SENSIBLE's Surrogacy Guide.

What are the required benefits for a Surrogate?

All surrogates are entitled to about $10,000 in various benefits. Some are absolutely required while others are nice incentives to help recruit a great candidate. Required benefits include payments whenever she starts fertility treatments or undergoes an invasive procedure. Surrogates will need extra money for maternity clothes and travel expenses. A nice incentive would be wellness sessions or other perks to make pregnancy more manageable. A full list of benefits and costs is available in the SENSIBLE's Surrogacy Guide.

How much will medical insurance cost 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. The cost of an insurance policy will add $7,000 to $10,000 to your surrogate’s compensation. Details are available in SENSIBLE's Total Surrogacy Cost Guide.

How can I find a Surrogate without an agency?

You can find your surrogate without an agency and save about $20,000 in Agency Fees. The most popular sources are dedicated groups on Facebook and similar social networks. Freelance surrogate recruiters (like SENSIBLE's) can find a surrogate for a fraction of a surrogacy agency. Contact us for details.

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. The complete list is available in SENSIBLE's free Surrogacy Guide.

What does a Surrogate 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. The complete requirements are available in SENSIBLE's free Surrogacy Guide.

 

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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