How to plan for surrogacy

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Surrogacy is not cheap. Typically, if you go through an agency and take all the proper legal precautions, you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $80,000 to $100,000. While you certainly don’t want to cut corners, there are ways to make the process more affordable.

First, you’ll have to choose the type of surrogacy that’s best for you, then an agency (if any), a surrogate, and, finally, an attorney. What follows is a step-by-step guide through that process.

Traditional surrogacy vs. gestational

There are two main types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. In a traditional surrogacy, a woman is impregnated through in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. Her own egg is fertilized by sperm from the intended father or donor.

In a gestational surrogacy, an embryo—made with another woman’s egg—is implanted in the surrogate’s womb. Here, the carrier isn’t genetically related to your child; rather, it’s whomever you chose, whether she be a relative or friend.

Gestational surrogacy is more common but also more expensive. If you’re trying to tighten your budget, start by choosing a traditional surrogacy.

Should you use an agency?

Cutting out the agency can save you a considerable amount of money. Going through a large agency can cost up to $120,000. A smaller agency will cost less, but you’ll have to do a bit more of the footwork yourself. By eliminating the agency entirely, you can reduce the cost to around $50,000.

The benefits of using an agency are manifold, though. A large agency will simplify the process by helping you screen potential surrogates and providing medical, financial and legal guidance. The services of smaller agencies are not quite as comprehensive, but they will still help you find a surrogate and provide financial, legal and medical guidance.

Tackling the challenge on your own will be more cost-effective, but it will also be very time-consuming and emotionally taxing. You will need to devote an enormous amount of time to carefully researching every stage of the process. Anyone with enough determination can make it work, though, and it’s certainly a more viable option if you have already chosen a surrogate.

Choosing a surrogate

One of the biggest expenses in this process is wrangling a trustworthy surrogate. If you do not go through an agency, you will need to screen every candidate yourself. This means performing background checks, health screenings, financial investigations and psychological evaluations. Needless to say, this can get expensive quickly.

On top of screening costs and medical expenses, surrogate mothers usually charge a fee that can be anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000. However, if you search hard enough, you may be able to find someone who is willing to do it for far less, simply satisfied to help a couple in need. If you can turn to a trusted friend or family member, you may be able avoid the surrogacy fee entirely.

Legal service fees

You’ve decided how you’d like your child to be born, the agency you’ll work with and the surrogate who will bear your child. Now there’s paperwork.

To be considered parents before the law, which is not possible in every state, you must consult with an attorney to draw up a surrogacy contract. This document ensures that you and your spouse are named as parents on your child’s birth certificate, and it sets in stone any financial obligations you and your surrogate may have to one another.

Good luck, and congratulations on this next big step!

Mike Anderson is an analyst for NerdWallet, a financial-literacy company dedicated to helping consumers make better decisions with their wallet.

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