Surrogacy Compensation: How Much Do Surrogates Earn?
Surrogacy compensation is a controversial topic. Some countries maintain that surrogacy should only legal when a woman does not receive any type of compensation. This is sometimes called “altruistic” surrogacy. Compensated surrogacy (also called commercial surrogacy), by contract, acknowledges the time, discomfort, and risk to her health that a surrogate incurs when she carries a pregnancy on behalf of others. Altruistic surrogacy is rare and mostly done on behalf of friends/family members. Compensated surrogacy is the most common type of surrogacy practiced in the United States. The US is also at the forefront of regulating the practice of surrogacy with ethical safeguards for all parties which is why it is considered the most desired location for surrogacy worldwide. Many international families turn to Americans when in need of surrogacy services.
Surrogacy compensation varies on a host of factors including where a surrogate is located, whether or not she has done surrogacy before, whether or not she has verified surrogacy friendly health insurance and would like to charge a premium because of that, and even personal preference – surrogates are always free to choose their desired compensation levels where commercial surrogacy exists broadly. Laws and regulations governing surrogacy compensation can vary by state, however; check out this state-by-state guide for more information.
Surrogacy compensation should never include expenses that Intended Parents are responsible for including: all legal and medical expenses, health insurance premiums, psychological screenings and mental health counseling, life insurance policy, and all travel expenses including travel to/from the Intended Parent(s)’ fertility clinic.
Typically, surrogacy compensation consists of a base compensation amount payable on a set schedule and reimbursement for pregnancy-related additional expenses. The base compensation is a fixed amount paid for surrogacy services as well as in acknowledgement of a surrogate’s pain/discomfort from carrying a pregnancy, the inconvenience and disruption to her life, and additional living expenses.
Surrogacy fees vary widely. First time surrogates in the United States generally make anywhere between $25,000-$55,000; with experienced surrogates making more, some reaching $100,000+. While surrogacy agencies will encourage surrogates to choose a rate from their general pricing sheet, legally a surrogate can charge whatever she wants for their services unless there are specific restrictions on compensation in her state. Some surrogates choose to go independent (surrogacy without an agency) In order for agency fees to be given to her directly instead of financially benefiting a third party.
The important thing to keep in mind is that all surrogates should determine the amount of money they feel is appropriate for their services. Some women do not seek any form of compensation at all, only reimbursement of medical, legal, and miscellaneous expenses. For others, they have a number in mind and their compensation will help them reach their financial goals in addition to fulfilling a sincere desire to help others become parents.
Surrogacy Payment Schedule
The first surrogacy compensation payments due to a surrogate generally start at confirmation of a fetal heartbeat, though most contracts provide for small additional payments for a positive HCG pregnancy test, starting a hormone/medication regimen, embryo transfers, and mock cycles.
Following the initial payment at heartbeat confirmation, surrogacy compensation payouts will usually follow a monthly schedule with final payment being due immediately following the birth of a child(ren).
As long as a surrogate gives birth at around or after 28-32 weeks, she will typically receive her full payment. This is regardless of the health of the child(ren). Remember, the payment owed to surrogates are for their time, pain, and the risk to their health. Money paid to a surrogate is not payment for a healthy baby. “Baby selling” is not legal in any US state and the ethics and standards governing surrogacy compensation reflect this.
Most surrogates will receive a larger fee in the event of multiples, usually in the neighborhood of an additional $10,000. Surrogates have the right to decide if they are willing to carry multiples or if they will require selective reduction in the event of twins/multiples. Multiples is an important matching point and should be discussed prior to beginning any surrogacy arrangement.
Most surrogates will receive several hundred dollars per month to cover miscellaneous expenses such as mileage to/from local medical appointments and pharmacies, babysitting/childcare, and other minor incidental expenses.
Embryo Transfer, Mock or Dropped Cycle Fees
Surrogates can usually expect to receive around $1,000 at embryo transfer (on top of their compensation base) and a few hundred per mock cycle or a dropped cycle.
Invasive Procedure Fees
Surrogates are usually compensated for produces such as an amniocentesis and/or a Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS), as well as D&C procedures/termination of pregnancy as needed. Anytime a surrogate is asked to go through an invasive medical procedure, she will be compensated for the pain and inconvenience.
Once a pregnancy is confirmed at around 16 weeks, surrogates usually receive a set budget for maternity clothes somewhere around $500-$700.
Working surrogates will receive compensation for any lost wages when they need to take time off of work due to medical appointments, pregnancy complications, mandated bed rest, and postpartum recovery. This is usually reimbursed at the surrogate’s hourly or current salaried rate or as payments meant to cover the gap between Short Term disability (STD) and her full wages. If her partner or spouse needs to take time off to accompany the surrogate (e.g. at delivery), he/she will be typically be reimbursed for actual lost wages.
Housekeeping and Childcare
If a surrogate is under bed rest or any other temporary disability or activity restriction caused by the pregnancy, Intended Parents are usually responsible for additional childcare and housecleaner expenses.
Surrogates that choose to provide breastmilk are usually compensated an additional amount and reimbursed for all equipment, storage, and shipping costs.
Almost all surrogacy payments are managed via an escrow account managed by a company like SeedTrust or via a law firm specializing in surrogacy. Escrow accounts are fully funded prior to the start of the embryo transfer and payments are determined by the terms of a fully executed surrogacy legal contact. Escrow accounts ensure that the Intended Parents have the money to pay the surrogate and that she is paid in a timely manner.
Some states allow commercial surrogacy without using an escrow account, though most attorneys will advice against this. Escrow accounts provide financial protections for all parties, even if the Intended Parents have sufficient proof of funds.