Gestational Surrogacy FAQs for Intended Parents
Information online about surrogacy can be confusing and inconsistent. Get the answers to the most common gestational surrogacy questions from the authority on the subject, Growing Generations.
If you’re interested in growing your family through surrogacy, you likely have many questions about the surrogacy process and how it works. Here are the questions we hear most.
- How do I become a parent through surrogacy?
There is a lot of information out there about surrogacy, some good but most of it not very useful at best. For an in-depth look at how to make your surrogacy process simpler and a whole lot happier, please read this article we wrote. If you are ready to get started, here are the next steps to having a baby via surrogate.
- Sign and review your client retainer agreement. This is the contract between you and your surrogacy agency. It should clearly outline the services of the agency and its professional fees.
- Return your signed retainer agreement with your first payment. This gets the process started, and the search for your surrogate begins!
- Schedule a call with a case manager. Your case manager, also known as a case specialist, will get you started on completing your profile and admissions materials, as well as give you an overview of this phase and what to expect next. Your case specialist is not only guiding you and your surrogate through the entire process, but they will be coordinating the efforts of all the other professionals working on your case.
- How much does a surrogate cost?
The average cost of gestational surrogacy ranges between $120,000 and $200,000 and is impacted by four main factors: number of attempts to achieve pregnancy, surrogate compensation and expenses, singleton or twin pregnancy, and optional or additional services.
- Number of pregnancy attempts: Pregnancy success rates have mostly to do with the age of the egg being used. For instance, intended parents using eggs 30 years or younger get pregnant on the first attempt around 75% of the time, whereas eggs 38 years or older usually take multiple attempts to achieve pregnancy. Each additional pregnancy attempt can add $15,000 to $50,000 or more to your total costs.
- Surrogate compensation and expenses: Surrogates are compensated more money each time they do a successful surrogacy. Also, surrogates living in popular states, such as California, receive additional compensation. So, if you want a second-time surrogate from California, your total costs will increase by at least $10,000. Additionally, the cost of health insurance for surrogates varies from one to the next. If you prefer to wait for a surrogate with low insurance costs, this will likely increase your wait time, but is a good way to reduce spending.
- Singleton or twins: Surrogates receive usually $7,500 in additional compensation for carrying twins. Plus, they will often need some kind of help at home (childcare, housekeeping, etc.), and may go off work early, increasing your liability for her wage reimbursement. If you have a specialty surrogate insurance policy, the total cost of the policy can increase by $15,000 or more for a twin pregnancy.
- Optional and additional services: Gestational surrogacy has several optional services, embryo genetic screening being a very popular one. Embryo testing usually runs between $6,500 and $8,500, and though it is elective, many people find value in having this done. An additional service you might need is egg donation. The cost of an egg donor cycle ranges between $40,000 and $60,000 and can go higher than that depending on the compensation of your egg donor.
If you need help figuring out your personal costs for the surrogacy process, we can help. One of our Growing Generations finance team experts will be happy to work with you to create a tailor-made budget that fits your desires for the surrogacy process, as well as for different cost scenarios. Click here to contact us and schedule a time to talk.
- Is there a wait to be matched with a surrogate?
Yes, you will need to wait to be matched with a surrogate, and that wait time is influenced by two main factors: demand for surrogacy and your personal preferences for the process.
- Demand for surrogacy: Each year more and more intended parents seek out the services of a surrogate. As that demand rises, so does the waiting period for an available surrogate. As a result of this, many agencies have taken to cutting corners and working with surrogates that have been declined by other agencies, so be on the lookout as you do your research.
- Personal surrogate preferences: It is fine to have specific desires and requirements for your surrogate. If your agency is a good one, most of those desires and requirements are already available in their surrogate candidates. But sometimes you want something specific that is a little more unique. If so, just be prepared to wait a little longer as you have now likely greatly reduced the entire pool of surrogates available to you.
Here are two great articles to read on surrogate matching and how to reduce your waiting time:
- How are surrogates screened?
The screening process for surrogates includes medical screening with an in vitro fertilization (IVF) physician, psychological testing and evaluation, and a criminal history background check. Leading up to these screenings, surrogate candidates will go through a qualification and application process, including a phone and video consultation, review of their past obstetrical history by an IVF physician and laboratory testing.
Growing Generations takes fewer than 1% of surrogate candidates. So, when your surrogate goes to screening, she is among the top 1% of more than 20,000 applicants we receive each year. To learn more about the Growing Generations signature surrogate screening process, click here.
- How long is the surrogacy process?
The surrogacy process can take anywhere from 13 months to 18 months for most intended parents. The surrogacy timeline can be broken down into five stages: search, screening, legal, conception, and, finally, pregnancy/delivery.
- Search: Less than 5% of all surrogate applicants at reputable agencies qualify to go to screening (at Growing Generations this figure is actually fewer than 1%). This means that there are very few eligible surrogate applicants. At the same time, there is a growing demand for surrogates by intended parents. If the intended parent has specific requirements that not every surrogate possesses, then this reduces the pool of surrogates even more. This means that the fewer restrictions you place on your surrogate match, the less time it will take to search for a surrogate.
- Screening: Once you are matched with a surrogate, she will go to medical and psychological screening. Depending on where the surrogate is in her menstrual cycle, she can be scheduled for screening right away or within a month. The screening process takes about three weeks to get all of the results back. This means that the entire screening process can usually be completed in one to two months.
- Legal: This process should be fairly simple because your surrogate’s benefit package will already have been agreed upon prior to you being matched with her. This includes you having reviewed and signed the contract with your attorney, and then the surrogate having done the same with her attorney, which can take up to a week or a month depending on everyone’s schedules.
- Conception: Once you have medical and legal clearance, and you have fully funded your account for the surrogacy expenses, your surrogate can begin her IVF treatment. Again, the start date of the cycle will coincide with the first day of the surrogate’s menstrual cycle and the medication protocol, which is about two to three weeks long. In total, the average conception phase is between one and two months.
- Pregnancy/Delivery: Let’s imagine you’ve waited three months to find your surrogate, and the screening, legal and conception all went as quickly as possible (i.e. one month each), with a full-term pregnancy (nine months) your total process time comes to 13 months.
For a better understanding of how to simplify your surrogacy process click here.
- Where is surrogacy legal?
In the United States, surrogacy is legal in many states, but it is an ever-changing legal landscape. Also, not every state is right for every intended parent. For instance, some states do not recognize non-biological parents, or same-sex couples. Before you receive the profile of a potential surrogate, your agency will have already done the work of consulting with the legal team to verify that the surrogate’s state matches your legal requirements. Once you received your surrogate’s profile, then you can speak with the legal team to talk about the specifics of the legal process in that state.
Many intended parents want a surrogate from California. As such, the high demand for California surrogates tends to extend the wait for a qualified surrogate candidate. However, there are many states in which the legal process is similar, or just as good, to that in California.
- Will the surrogate keep the baby?
Many intended parents worry that the surrogate will keep their baby. Ironically, one of the most common concerns we hear from surrogates is that the intended parents will LEAVE them with the baby! Surrogates are able to be surrogates because they have a very easy time getting and being pregnant. And they are all already mothers. If they want more children, they can just have their own child, on their own. Surrogates are drawn to this process by a compelling desire to make a difference and help others. Being pregnant is a gift they have and can share with others.
Want to know what surrogates are like? Read some women’s actual stories here.
- Does insurance cover the surrogacy process?
Most health insurance policies do not cover surrogacy expenses. Some insurance policies do cover some of the fertility treatment, but this will usually be limited to treatment for the insured, not the surrogate or egg donor. More commonly, companies provide internal benefits for processes, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy. You might think that only big companies, like Google and Apple, offer these kinds of benefits, but you would be surprised. Sometimes a company will transfer an adoption benefit to the use of a surrogate. We have seen company surrogacy benefits ranging from $2,500 to $75,000, so it never hurts to inquire about your company’s policies.
- Why choose Growing Generations as your surrogacy agency?
Founded in 1996 and with over 40 employees and support staff, Growing Generations is one of the oldest and largest surrogacy agencies in the United States. Here is what intended parents love about our program:
- We admit less than 1% of surrogate candidates applying to our program.
- Over 99% of intended parents accept the first surrogate we present to them.
- If your surrogate does not pass her screening, Growing Generations pays for the screening expense, not you. There is no extra fee for this, no special pricing you need to select ahead of time. No other agency in the United States provides this benefit!
For a deeper look into our surrogate screening process and what sets Growing Generations apart, please click here.