Things You Wanted to Know About Surrogacy, But Never Asked

Surrogacy is a family-making process that’s growing rapidly. From celebrities to single parents, gay men, and everyday couples, it’s a process that many different types of families are turning to in order to create or grow their families. Perhaps you know someone who has been or has used a surrogate, or maybe you’re just starting to explore the idea on your own. Here’s a look at a few of the first questions that intended parents (that’s you!) tend to have, but may be a bit too timid to ask.

How much does it cost?

Surrogacy isn’t cheap, but neither is parenthood. The process will be costly, as it includes many doctors’ appointments and compensation for egg donors and surrogates. The cost can, and does, range greatly depending on how you plan to achieve a positive birth. Going through agencies costs more than going on this journey alone, but they provide a vital element of security and expertise that is crucial to success. It is impossible to give a one size fits all number for surrogacy, as there are too many variable factors involved in determining the overall price. While it may be intimidating, your best bet is to contact agencies directly to talk about what their costs are, how they’re determined, and what is provided for that cost. Far more important than the overall number you’re provided is the transparency behind explaining the number. In some cases financing may be available.


How do I find a surrogate?

The first thing to understand is that there are two types of surrogacy. Traditional surrogacy, in which the surrogate also provides the egg, and gestational surrogacy, where you’ll also need the help of an egg donor to create an embryo. Most agencies will only work with gestational surrogates for a variety of reasons, both legal and psychological. In any case, you should decide which type of surrogate you’re seeking. Traditional surrogates are usually only found through classified listings online, whereas gestational surrogates can be found through online listings, forums, or with the help of an agency. Finding an ideal surrogate is almost always included in your agency fees, and comes packed with inherent value to you. Agency-screened surrogates have passed financial, legal, medical, and psychological background screenings. There is less risk for you in these models, and could wind up saving you money versus first finding a surrogate and then self-screening her on your own.


What does the law say?

As of early 2017, there are no federal mandates on surrogacy in the United States. Legally, it is largely left up to the states to develop and enforce legislation on surrogacy. While some states, like California, are very surrogacy friendly, others are not. Typically the laws that surround surrogacy are determined by the state where the individual lives. Due to the many different laws and regulations, it is imperative to do your legal research before moving forward. This, again, is an excellent reason to work with an agency for your journey. Reputable agencies have a law firm on retainer to monitor the ever-changing state laws and will ensure that you are paired only with surrogates who live in states that are friendly to your unique situation.


How long does it take?

There is no hard-set timetable for how long your journey will take. Anyone who tells you differently should be regarded with extreme caution. There are too many variables that simply cannot be predicted at the onset. There is no way to predict how your egg donor’s body will respond to medication or how many embryos will survive and look optimal for transfer. Additionally, there is simply no way to guarantee that your first transfer attempt will result in a pregnancy or that the pregnancy will be viable. Even under the best circumstances, there are many areas where things can go more quickly for one person and slower for another. An extremely smooth, speedy process will last about 12 months from match meeting to birth, but this number can easily be pushed out by several months, even a year, if one or more transfers fail or your donor or surrogate has travel black out dates to consider. What’s important to remember is that surrogacy is a marathon, not a sprint.


What do I do first?

You’re already doing it. The first step to a successful surrogacy journey is to educate yourself. Begin contemplating what you’re seeking, and what an ideal situation looks like for you. You’ll find volumes of useful resources on our website to get you started. Then, when you’re ready, contact us. Our staff is excited to help your family building dreams become reality.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.