Choosing a surrogate to carry your child is a decision that does not come lightly. While there are many biological factors to consider – who will be the surrogate, the mother and father – there are financial ones as well.
In vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination and other fertility options are often cheaper, for some people, these reproductive procedures not physically possible. If you're considering surrogacy to have a child, here are some costs to expect and how you might be able to pay them.
The Price Tag
Surrogacy can cost at least $60,000, and the price depends on the specific needs surrounding each case. For example, expenses can include: fees paid to an advocate agency, the gestational carrier and social workers; legal, medical and travel costs; incidentals such as a maternity wardrobe and meals and, in case of complications, it's a good idea to have an emergency fund.
Different types of surrogacy carry different costs. Traditional surrogacy is the cheaper option, and it's done by in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. With this method, the surrogate mother's egg is fertilized by the father's sperm.
Gestational surrogacy is more expensive, but it offers more control over genetics, since an embryo (formed by the biological mother's egg and father's sperm) will be implanted in the surrogate's womb. In this case, the carrier is not genetically related to your child, and the carrier can be whomever you choose – often a friend or family member.
There are several options for surrogacy financing, and it's best to check with your financial advisor before taking out a loan. Here are a few options:
- Financing from the surrogacy agency: If you work with a surrogacy agency, some will offer financing programs of their own. Growing Generations, for example, provides up to $100,000 in financing.
- Home equity loan: This is a standard loan based on your home's equity. You essentially borrow against what you've already paid on your mortgage. A home equity line of credit can be precarious – if you default, you can lose your home – but it also offer more flexibility than, say, a 401(k) loan.
- 401(k) loan: Borrowing against your 401(k) is not recommended unless in dire need. The Internal Revenue Service considers it a hardship withdrawal, and financial experts advise that you only borrow against your 401(k) if your financial need cannot be met by any other means. Technically, this financial product is not a loan, and it has no impact on your credit history. However, it can inhibit your contributions to retirement until you've repaid the entire loan.
There are a variety of grants available to eligible applicants. Research which one is right for you, and keep in mind that some grants are given to people with specific religious, cultural and sexual orientation affiliations. The Gay Parenting Assistance Program, for example, offers financial support for members of the LGBT community who want to conceive.
Should I use an agency?
When you go through this process, a surrogacy agency can help tremendously. Many will screen surrogate candidates and provide guidance on medical, financial and legal issues.
Skipping an agency can help reduce costs dramatically, but by doing so, you may also give yourself a huge headache. A large agency can cost you as much as $120,000, according to Attain Fertility. Smaller agencies often cost less, but they may not have the same resources as a large one. However, most will still help you find a surrogate as well as aid in financial, legal and medical matters.
Keep in mind that if you choose to not to use an agency, you'll have to screen surrogate mothers yourself – a process that runs the gamut from background checks to health screenings, to financial investigations and a psychological evaluation.
Mike Anderson is an analyst for NerdWallet, a financial-literacy company dedicated to helping consumers make better decisions with their wallet.