Surrogacy is an incredible option for LGBTQ people looking to start their family, and who hope to have a biological connection to their child — the downside? It’s incredibly expensive. Surrogacy can cost anywhere between $125,000 to $200,000, or more, depending on your unique set of circumstances.
Types of Surrogacy in the United States
Before we get into costs of surrogacy in the United States, and ways to make it less expensive, let’s first review the main different types of surrogacy arrangements that exist:
- Gestational Surrogacy: In a gestational surrogacy arrangement, you will provide your own eggs, or work with an egg donor, to create embryos that will then be transferred to your surrogate — this means your surrogate will not be genetically related to your baby. Gestational surrogacy is the most common form of surrogacy practiced in the United States. This form of surrogacy is legal in most states but some are more favorable than others — it will be important to work with a reproductive attorney who is well informed about state-based surrogacy laws.
- Traditional Surrogacy: In a traditional surrogacy arrangement, you will work with a surrogate who uses their own eggs to create embryos. This means your surrogate will be genetically related to the resulting child. Traditional surrogacy is also not legal in all states, so you will need to work closely with a reproductive attorney who is well informed about state-based surrogacy laws. Your lawyer should also help make sure that you (and your partner if you have one) are recognized as the sole legal parent(s) to your child — and not your surrogate.
- Commercial Surrogacy: In commercial surrogacy, a surrogate is paid by the intended parents for carrying and delivering a child for them. Commercial surrogacy is legal in most, but not all, states. Most countries outside the United States prohibit commercial surrogacy.
- Altruistic Surrogacy: In this form of surrogacy, no money changes hands between the surrogate and the intended parents. Typically, an altruistic surrogate is a friend or family member of the intended parent who is interested in helping their loved one start their family. Altruistic surrogacy is legal in every state, and in many countries abroad.
“Just like raising children, expanding your family takes a village, too! From sharing the names of lawyers to swapping favorite diaper brands, it's important to remember that you are not alone. In fact, we know that 63% of LGBTQ+ millennials are planning on expanding their families in the coming years. That's millions of folks with a shared identity starting down the path to growing their beautiful communities and cohorts.” - Jess Venable-Novak, Director of Family Formation at Family Equality
Why is Surrogacy So Expensive?
We’re first going to help you understand why surrogacy is so expensive before helping you think through some ways to make it more affordable. There are five main “buckets” of costs to consider when doing surrogacy:
- Surrogacy Agency: it’s possible to do surrogacy on your own, without an agency, but this isn’t advisable, especially if it’s your first journey. Reputable surrogacy agencies will help guide you through the process, step by step. They will be responsible for helping you find and screen a surrogate, legal work, health screenings, and the overall coordination of the process.
- Fertility Clinic: You will also need to work with a fertility clinic — which will be responsible for screening your egg and/or sperm donor, surrogate, and you. You will also need to pay your fertility clinic to help you create and transfer embryos. However, there is a lot of variability in costs that can occur at your fertility clinic, depending on your unique set of circumstances.
- Surrogate and Egg Donor Costs: You will also need to compensate your surrogate, as well as your egg donor, if you need one. This is the most expensive part of a surrogacy journey — and with good reason! Your surrogate and egg donor will be providing you with their time, energy, and bodies to help you have a baby, and need to be compensated ethically and fairly for doing so.
- Surrogacy Insurance: Lastly, you will need to make sure you are properly covered when undergoing a surrogacy journey. This will include making sure your surrogate and egg donor have insurance covering all medical procedures, and that will properly compensate them in case any rare health issues arise. Your surrogacy agency should help make sure you have all your bases covered.
“We need spaces where we can find each other, support each other, and celebrate each other on our journeys. Our shared history is rich with ways in which we have carved out those spaces for ourselves; with moments we have celebrated ourselves, our queerness, and our survival. This moment in time is no different, and we deserve to build a thriving, growing community." -Jess Venable-Novak, Director of Family Formation at Family Equality
Saving Tips for Your Surrogacy Journey
There’s no getting around the fact that surrogacy is expensive — but with a bit of planning and effort, there are several ways you can make your surrogacy journey more affordable.
- Pay for your journey as you go: If you plan well enough in advance, you can pay for your journey over the course of several years — there’s no need to pay for everything at once! The main way to do this is to create your embryos first and have them frozen until you’ve saved up enough money to complete the rest of your journey.
- Employer benefits: Some employers are starting to offer assistance to their employees who create their families through surrogacy. This includes many of the tech companies, like Facebook and Google. Smaller organizations may be open to providing these benefits, too — so speak with your H.R. department!
- Loans: There are a couple of options to help you finance part of your journey through loans. You can take out a home equity line of credit, for instance, or a personal loan with lenders like SoFi, Prosper Healthcare Lending, or LightStream — these financial institutions provide high-dollar installment loans (ranging from $5,000 to $100,000) to people with good credit.
- Grants: See if you qualify for the Gay Parenting Assistance Program at Men Having Babies. This group works with agencies and clinics to help you get discounts, and free services, in some instances – they also provide cash grants to help gay men afford their surrogacy journey.
- Friends and Family: If you have a close friend or family member that may be willing to donate their eggs or be your surrogate, it can significantly reduce your costs. But be aware that your loved one will still need to undergo the same screenings as any other surrogate or egg donor — this is not a small “ask” to make.
- Crowdfunding: Many LGBTQ people have used sites like GoFundMe to reach out to their networks of friends, family and colleagues to request additional support. It may be uncomfortable to ask, but you might be surprised how many people want to help make your dream of parenthood come true.
Family Equality, a national nonprofit dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ families, found, formed, and chosen, meets the needs of growing LGBTQ+ families by offering resources and support to current and prospective parents and caregivers. From guides on setting boundaries on your family building journey to virtual peer support groups, Family Equality has something for everyone, regardless of where you are on your path to parenthood.
Where Can I Go For Support?
For guides on building resiliency on your surrogacy journey and virtual peer support groups, check out Family Equality — a national nonprofit dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ families, found, formed, and chosen. For information about surrogacy conferences, financial assistance programs, and webinars, check out Men Having Babies. For a thorough overview of the entire surrogacy process, start to finish, check out Gays With Kids, which maintains a surrogacy resource page for gay, bi and trans men.