Surrogacy Financing: A Guide to Affording the Cost of Family-Building
This article was created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek guidance from a qualified health professional for medical conditions and before making any health changes.
Research shows that out of every 100 couples, 12 to 13 have difficulty becoming pregnant. Whether you’re struggling to grow your family, can’t conceive naturally or have chosen not to, there are several family-building options to bring a baby into the family.
While some intended parents choose to adopt, many turn to modern medicine for fertility drugs, various types of medical fertility procedures, gamete donation, surrogacy and more. Gestational surrogacy rates have risen in recent years, and it’s predicted that in 2025, the surrogacy market will generate $27.5 billion in revenue.
The medical part of the surrogacy process is the same as in vitro fertilization (IVF). An egg is retrieved from the intended mother and fertilized by sperm from the intended father. Using a donor egg or sperm is also an option. Doctors then transfer the fertilized egg or embryo to the surrogate partner who will carry the baby to term for the intended parents.
However, medical procedures are just a small part of surrogate pregnancies and its cost. There are also surrogacy agencies, legal services and surrogate compensation to consider, making the cost of surrogate pregnancies reach $49,000 to $200,000 or more.
Intended parents use savings, personal loans, grants and a host of other methods to fund their family-building efforts. With so many choices, it’s challenging to know which type of financing to pursue. This article helps intended parents navigate the financial hurdles of surrogacy planning.
The financial cost of surrogacy
Surrogacy costs as much as a house in some parts of the country. But the total price tag reflects the multiple services involved. Here are some cost factors you’ll encounter and their average price range.
|Surrogacy Cost Factors||What’s Included||Average Cost|
|Legal fees||Surrogacy laws vary by state. It’s essential to have a lawyer help you verify and navigate the legality, restrictions and unique surrogacy laws in your state.
A surrogacy contract also protects the rights of intended parents and surrogates and defines compensations, expectations, responsibilities and parental rights.
|$3,000 – $15,000|
|Agency fees||Agency services include background checks, screenings, marketing for finding surrogacy opportunities, matching services, overseeing and coordinating the surrogacy process and providing support, education and counseling.||$6,000 – $54,000|
|Medical expenses||Covers IVF treatments, embryo transfer fee, fertility medications, prenatal care costs and egg or sperm donor, if needed. Costs rise with each IVF cycle, sometimes dramatically when using gamete donors.||$20,000 – $80,000|
|Gestational surrogate compensation||Provides base compensation for a surrogate partner for the time, sacrifices and service they’re providing.||$20,000 – $55,000|
|Gestational surrogate reimbursement||May include lost wages, additional payments for invasive procedures (e.g. amniocentesis), IVF medication and transfer fee, C-section, breast milk pumping, travel expenses, health insurance (if needed), monthly allowance, maternity clothes and more.||$46,000 – $68,000|
Surrogacy is a costly family-building option that stretches many budgets to the limit, and these costs are just the beginning of the financial journey of raising children. The most recent United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report shows middle-income married couples with two children can expect to spend $233,610 in child-rearing expenses from birth through age 17. Annual expenses ranged from $9,330 to $23,380, with costs including:
- Child care
- Health care
- Miscellaneous expenses
As such, intended parents should analyze their finances to avoid financial despair down the road, determine what they can afford and ensure financial stability after the baby is born.
The best way to get a clear picture of your financial standing is to create and evaluate your budget. This allows you to judge whether you have enough discretionary income or savings after surrogacy costs to pay for future household expenses.
The first step to budgeting involves adding up all income from wages, investments, alimony, rental income, child support, interest and other sources and subtracting expenses like:
- Mortgage or rent
- Debt payments (car, insurance, health care, etc.)
- Personal spending (lifestyle expenses, entertainment, recreation, miscellaneous costs, etc.)
What’s left over can be used to budget baby expenses, provide more wiggle room or fund savings accounts and other financial goals, such as family vacations. The beauty of creating a budget is you can determine what categories to spend less money on to fund your priorities.
In the best-case scenario, intended parents will pay down or pay off debt like student loans, cars and even mortgages before taking on more to expand their family. But surrogacy can be time sensitive, and many intended parents can’t afford to wait.
What can intended parents do if finances are tight, but they’d like to start the surrogacy journey now?
10 surrogacy payment options
After inspecting the budget and costs of using a surrogate mother, intended parents can consider the below payment choices to select their best funding options.
1. Health insurance
Health insurance may cover some or all of the medical costs associated with the insured, leaving only copays and other surrogacy expenses to finance. However, not all states mandate health insurance to cover infertility treatments such as IVF or embryo transfer. See the map further down for your state’s laws.
People looking to get insurance can apply through their state’s Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment, typically beginning early November through mid-December, or under special circumstances. Insurance offered by the Marketplace isn’t mandated by the Affordable Care Act or other federal law to cover infertility, so defer to state law.
You can use an insurance agent or broker, the online Marketplace or your employer’s next enrollment period to get insurance.
2. Employee benefits
While these workplace perks can be an enormous help in paying for surrogacy, the reality is the percent of employers offering infertility benefits is still small. However, it’s worth a chat with Human Resources to see what your employer provides.
3. Personal savings
Personal savings can come from:
- Emergency funds
- Savings accounts
- Money from downsizing the house or selling an unused car
- Cash-value withdrawal of whole life policies
- Passive income sources, like property rentals
Accessing personal funds is more straightforward and faster than asking for loans, but drying up private reserves may leave intended parents financially vulnerable in unforeseen situations — causing stress, anxiety and overwhelm. How much to sue from savings depends on your comfort level, available financing sources and financial risk levels.
4. Financing through the fertility center
Numerous fertility centers partner with fertility organizations to bring financing choices to intended parents. Organizations offering loans to parents include:
Applications can be filled out online, with approvals taking no longer than a day. Lenders like Prosper Healthcare offer as much as $100,000 with seven-year terms and APRs as low as 5.99%.
As with all loans, factors like credit score and history and income play a role in approval. Those with poor credit scores or unstable or insufficient incomes may find it challenging to get this financing until applicants improve these metrics.
5. Personal loan
Personal loans are an attractive option because interest rates are fixed and are lower than financing from credit cards. They also have high lending limits and no restrictions on how intended parents use the funds. As with fertility organizations offering loans, intended parents can fill out applications online and have a same-day response.
However, some lenders charge percentage-based loan origination fees, which can add to overall surrogacy costs. Traditional lenders also analyze your creditworthiness and income to determine eligibility and rates.
Any steps you take now to pay bills on time and pay down credit card balances will start the credit-building process immediately. Even shifts as little as 15 to 20 points can make a difference in approval or better APRs.
6. Retirement accounts
Money in 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP plans and other retirement accounts are a great source of income during your golden years. But sometimes financial needs can make them more useful today than in the distant future.
Taking out personal retirement funds is typically a matter of accessing your account, but beware of early withdrawal penalties and other fees. IRAs, for instance, charge a 10% penalty. The withdrawn money also counts as taxable income — potentially increasing your income tax bracket.
Most 401(k) plans allow borrowing of up to 50% of the vested balance, up to $50,000. You must pay the balance back in five years, and if you leave your job, the full balance is due with your next tax return. Talk to human resources to use this financing option.
7. Home equity
Have part or all of your home paid off? You can use your home as a secured asset and borrow against it if you don’t mind putting your house on the line. When calculating your maximum borrowing amount, lenders use a percentage of the appraised value, usually around 75%, and then subtract your remaining mortgage balance.
Fill out an application with a bank or online lender to apply. The money comes in a lump sum, so you can quickly cover many of surrogacy’s large expenses, and then save for other costs along the way. A home equity line of credit is a similar option, but instead uses a revolving credit line for you to take as needed.
The best part about grants is there’s no condition to pay them back. But requirements vary by organization, and funds are limited. Most also require an infertility diagnosis for eligibility.
Some grant-giving organizations include:
- Baby Quest Foundation
- Family Formation Charitable Trust (AAAA)
- Journey to Parenthood Grant
- Life Grants
- Pay if Forward Fertility Grants
- Parental Hope Family Grant
- Tinina Q. Cade Foundation Family Building Grant
- The Hope for Fertility Foundation
See individual websites for the application process.
9. Credit card
Although credit cards have higher interest rates and smaller lines of credit than other types of financing, most of us already have a few cards in our wallet we can access. Intended parents can also apply for new rewards credit cards to take advantage of rewards and welcome offers.
Rewards cards come in many flavors, offering cash back, travel miles or points for merchandise and entertainment that may prove valuable throughout the surrogacy process. You can apply online on the card issuer’s website, with many offering instant approval.
10. Friends and family
Intended parents can find financial help from loved ones through fundraising, crowdfunding, donations or from tapping into inheritance funds. For crowdfunding, websites like Go Fund Me are popular. Fundraising efforts can involve:
- Garage sales locally and online through Facebook groups and sites like OfferUp
- Cash donations instead of gifts
- Selling craft items on Etsy
- Hosting fundraising events like local concerts, silent auctions, dinner parties and board game nights
Intended parents typically avail themselves of a combination of options to meet the high costs of surrogacy. This is where personal budgets and planning are essential to fitting together financing choices.
Tips for financing your surrogacy journey
A bit of the right help and knowledge goes far in making an informed surrogacy financing decision. Some key considerations are:
Choose the right surrogacy counselor
Surrogacy counselors are worth their weight in gold and make a complicated process much more manageable and navigable. They work closely with intended parents to provide education, counseling and support before, during and after surrogacy.
They are also an excellent resource for recommending financing programs unique to surrogacy and organizations offering financial assistance. It’s essential to choose a surrogacy counselor dedicated to assisting with the medical, emotional and financial aspects of the surrogacy journey.
Consider speaking with a financial advisor
Financial professionals are trained experts in reviewing your finances and providing realistic advice on what intended parents can do within their budget constraints — sometimes for free.
Credit unions like NFCC and banks like Ally offer budgeting and financial planning tools or advice for free to customers. Your job might also have workshops on budgeting as part of their financial wellness benefits.
For paid services, financial counselors with an AFC designation focus services on those with lower incomes and fewer assets. Financial planners with CFP or ChFC designations provide skilled guidance in meeting big financial goals, such as paying for surrogacy.
Research your state’s surrogacy laws
Policies regarding surrogacy regulations vary by state, with a big impact on cost. Employer-provided health insurance in New Hampshire, for instance, must cover medical expenses related to making embryos with donor eggs for use with a gestational surrogate — saving intended parents $12,000 to $20,000 per IVF cycle.
Only 15 states mandate health insurance coverage for at least some infertility treatments, and 23 states have benchmark plans with minimum coverages for individual and group plans that include infertility services. The map below shows how “surrogacy friendly” each state is.
Keep track of your financials
Surrogacy expenses add up quickly. Intended parents can monitor the flow of money by using dedicated credit cards, saving receipts and bills, and consistently tallying up costs. While a simple spreadsheet can help with this, those looking for a more robust financial picture and easy tracking can use apps like Mint. Mint automatically imports expenses, categorizes spending and provides financial planning tools.
Create a dedicated savings account
The earlier intended parents start saving, the more financially prepared they’ll be for surrogacy-associated costs. Keeping track of financials is the best way to guarantee money makes it into the surrogacy savings account each month.
Budgeting methods like zero-sum budgeting can help intended parents reach their goals by showing where every dollar goes, so they can redirect them if necessary. Apps like YNAB are based on this budgeting principle and make it simple to save for surrogacy and other financial goals.
Find an ally
Intended parents can reach out to others who have gone through the surrogacy process to learn from their financing journeys. Speaking with others who have gone down the surrogacy path provides an insider’s perspective on how specific financing combinations can make surrogacy affordable.
There are several online and local fertility advocacy and surrogacy support groups available for intended parents, such as:
- All About Surrogacy
- Fertility Within Reach
- Surrogate Mothers Online
- Surrogates and Intended Parents
Surrogacy is within your reach
Intended parents thinking about surrogacy might feel a mixture of excitement and apprehension as they try to grasp all that a surrogate pregnancy entails. Starting the journey by reading about the process and available funding options gives intended parents a head start in making sure the surrogacy path is as meaningful and memorable as they imagined it to be.
While surrogacy is costly, it doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive. Intended parents can combine financial planning and financing options to put hopes of growing the family within their grasp.
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