Any reasonable couple that stops to carefully plan for the prospect of starting a new life together as a family comes to one conclusion; this will get very expensive. Having a child is not like buying a new TV or even buying a home, where there’s a one time purchase, possibly spread out over carefully calculated and fixed monthly payments. Having a child is an expense that adds up over a lifetime, whether it is the increase in utilities paid for every month, medical expenses for every possibility from a broken arm learning to ride a bike to braces, and the very real concern of saving up enough for tuition at a good college or university.
For some couples, however, there is a major expense that occurs even before pregnancy, and that is due to the inability to become pregnant, or the medical recommendation to not pursue natural pregnancy and childbirth. For those people wishing to start a new family, expenditures have to begin right at the conception stage. Surrogacy, finding a woman that can safely undertake pregnancy and delivery, which then unites that newborn with the intended parents, is one alternative. But is it possible to have a “cheap” surrogacy?
The Financial Reality
Of course, the important thing to understand is that “cheap” is a relative term, since nothing about pregnancy, natural or otherwise, is ever “cheap” to begin with. However, as with anything in life, there is a sliding scale to just how much a couple wishing to start a family can spend on surrogacy. On the extreme end, a family may go with a compensated surrogacy at the best facilities in the United States, where the price is no object. This type of surrogacy may cost as much as $200,000 after all fees, services, compensation and travel are incurred.
On the “low” end, surrogacy may only cost a few thousand dollars for the living and medical expenses required for the surrogate mother. In that sense, it may be no more expensive than a typical traditional pregnancy. So why is there so much variance in the cost of surrogacy, and how is it possible to have a “cheap” one?
The Expensive Surrogacy
Different types of surrogacy will entail different costs, and some decisions will bring unavoidable extra expenses. For some, these are the choices that will rapidly bump up the expenses involved in surrogacy.
The United States is, bar none, the most expensive country in the world for medical treatment. Where some nations like the United Kingdom and Canada provide “free” medical coverage to citizens at the cost of higher taxes, the United States eschews any national-level system, in favor of people either paying for medical costs on their own or using health insurance policies for coverage. This is reinforced by the fact that many health facilities are “for-profit” and run themselves like businesses, inflating their prices as and where they see fit.
When this is combined with access to some of the most advanced medical treatments in the world, the prices rise again. So any couple that wishes to use medical facilities in the United States, and wants the best facilities only is already adding a premium to their total surrogacy costs.
Some families want a child that is, for all intents and purposes, their “own,” at least in the traditional genetic sense. For these families, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the only way to achieve this when another woman is acting as a surrogate mother. With IVF, sperm from the father or another donor, and eggs from the mother or another donor, are fertilized in a lab. When fertilization has been confirmed, the embryo is then implanted in the surrogate mother.
This type of lab procedure gets very expensive and may cost over $100,000 all by itself. If sperm/egg samples must be retrieved from cryogenic storage, and if genetic screening of multiple fertilized eggs is required to check for hereditary disorders like Down’s Syndrome, the cost goes up.
If a couple chooses a compensated surrogacy, this means that the surrogate mother herself is receiving substantial financial recognition for her participation. While this is a significant extra expense, it can also dramatically increase the available pool of quality candidates now that financial incentives are being offered.
The Cheapest Surrogacy
The cheapest surrogacy involves an “altruistic surrogacy” where the surrogate mother agrees to participate for no additional cost, except maybe living and medical expenses. If the intended family wants to save more money, then the intended father having sexual intercourse with the surrogate mother—rather than through artificial insemination, which is the normal procedure today—is another way to save money, though it may create emotional complications for everyone. Doing all this locally, to avoid travel, and attempting a deliver at home, with no medical support will also dramatically reduce costs.
However, choosing the cheapest route possible, especially when it comes to cutting corners on medical expenses may jeopardize success, and put both the surrogate mother and baby at medical risk.