how are surrogates compensated

“How much are you being paid for this?” As a 2x surrogate, this is the one question that would infuriate me the most when asked by strangers, friends, or family. Even typing that out now, makes me cringe.  When I would hear that question it made me feel like my primary motivation for becoming a surrogate was purely for monetary gain.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  Compensation is an important component of a surrogacy journey, but it shouldn’t be the primary motivation for becoming a surrogate. There are significant emotional and physical commitments the surrogate must undertake, and thus compensated accordingly.   At FCS, surrogates are offered a comprehensive benefits package.  We strive to ensure surrogates feel confident when discussing compensation and that they are financially aware. 

Compensation Breakdown

There are many components of a compensation/benefits package. Many surrogates are familiar with the surrogate’s base compensation. This is the “large” number that is often the focal point in surrogacy advertisements and discussions. However, there are many factors that make up the entire package a surrogate might receive throughout the entire journey.

 We will break down the compensation package into three segments: Base Compensation, Allowances/Stipends, and “What ifs”.  

Base Compensation – The base compensation amount is determined by the surrogate during her screening process. Today the average first-time surrogate receives a base compensation of $35,000-$45,000.  The payments are broken down into monthly installments that are paid out starting the first month after the confirmation of heartbeat.  The GC will receive the monthly payments while she remains pregnant.  Once she gives birth the remaining balance will be paid in one final lump sum. If the surrogate were to have a miscarriage or termination she could be eligible to receive a pro-rated amount for the days in which she was pregnant, with any future payments being stopped.

Allowances/Stipends and “What Ifs” – Your Gestational Surrogacy Agreement will explain your entire compensation package and details as to when it should be paid out.  Upon signing contracts the surrogate will begin to receive her monthly allowance. This non-accountable allowance is typically around $250 per month and it is for the purpose of covering miscellaneous expenses throughout the journey. When the GC begins taking injectable medications in preparation for embryo transfer she will receive a fee for this process.  Most contracts average around $500 for a medication start fee. The surrogate will then be due $1000 on average, at the time of completing an embryo transfer.  Other allowances could be due to the surrogate, although, not as common, include completion of a mock cycle fee or a cycle cancellation fee, but not due to the fault of the surrogate.  

Throughout the pregnancy, the surrogate could be entitled to other forms of compensation.  These items would be listed on the benefits package and would be paid out depending on the circumstance occurring.  Examples of these potential fee payouts include maternity clothing, wellness package, c-section, invasive medical procedures, loss of reproductive organ(s), carrying multiples, physician ordered bed rest requiring housekeeping, lost wages, and miscarriages/terminations. After the child has been born, the surrogate would receive her final lump sum from her base compensation.  If agreed upon, the GC may pump and provide breast milk to the family.  This is generally compensated.  

Expenses and Reimbursables

A popular concern of potential surrogates is the worry of having to pay for anything during their journey.  As a surrogate, you should not be out any expenses. There is a possibility that a surrogate would need to pay for something first, but she will have the opportunity to submit the expense for reimbursement. It is important that a surrogate have $500-$1000 set aside for emergency situations where she may need to pay for something and wait for reimbursement.  An example could be a flight cancellation while at the airport.  The GC may need to pay for a new ticket to get to the screening appointment.  Of course, she would be reimbursed, but being able to handle the situation at the moment would be ideal. 

Throughout the surrogacy journey travel to some extent will take place for medical screening and embryo transfer.  Reimbursement or allowances are due to the surrogate when making these arrangements.  For this appointment, she could possibly have the following expenses: mileage, airfare, lodging, meals, rental car or rideshare fees, and the charges accrued for services at the appointment.  The intended parents would be responsible to pay and arrange for this travel, or promptly reimburse any expenses she paid upfront. 

 It is important to also note that copays and insurance deductibles related to the pregnancy would be a covered expense of the intended parents.  If the GC’s health insurance is considered not “surrogacy-friendly” the IPs would be responsible for paying the premiums for an insurance policy to be used for pregnancy and delivery. 

Any bills associated with the delivery and hospital stay will be processed through insurance, with any remaining balance being paid by the IPs.   If the GC is employed she is able to request lost wages during the time of physician ordered bed rest or her recovery after birth per the terms of her contract. The GC’s partner is typically allowed to request some lost wages for delivery. 

Artificial Inflation

When researching agencies or searching for an independent journey, the surrogate should keep in mind that “if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is”  A popular tactic to appeal to potential GCs is putting a large flashy compensation amount on an advertisement.  In reality that over-exaggerated number is the base compensation and ALL the POSSIBLE fees a woman COULD receive throughout a journey.  This means she would have carried multiples, had a c-section, lost all of her reproductive organs, and so on.  It is a very misleading approach and one that FCS does not stand behind.  Make sure you have a very transparent relationship when discussing the compensation package.  It is critical to see how it is actually broken down.  This also applies to those who advertise an “all-inclusive” package.  There are too many scenarios that might cause the surrogate to actually lose money. This is why it’s important for the contract to list detailed compensation amounts and reimbursements. 

Third-Party Funds Management

Finally, when it comes to compensation, it is extremely important to consider where the funds are held.  In order to remain an objective advocate, FCS only works with third-party escrow providers that are bonded and insured, and the funds are securely held in an attorney-managed trust account.    The escrow provider should be independent of all parties.  The account must be fully funded with all potential surrogate compensation prior to the start of medications.  The payments are paid to the surrogate in accordance with the legal agreement.    If the surrogate needs to be reimbursed, she doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable presenting the request directly to the IPs.   She can submit the documentation and request to the escrow company and they handle the disbursement.  Money conversations can be hard and can create unnecessary stress!  Third-party escrow accounts provide the surrogate with security, reliable payments, and transparency. 

Your Family. Your Choice

Family Choice Surrogacy doesn’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to compensation packages.  Each surrogate should have the opportunity to have input in her compensation package.  This should be decided based on her comfort level, the conversations she has with her support system, and with the guidance of our agency.  FCS is open to hearing the compensation requests of each surrogate. If we feel that her desires do not align with our available intended parents, then we let her know upfront.  She can choose to move on with a different agency, or choose to wait and see if we can match her based on her specifications. 

As I said at the beginning, discussing compensation can really be a touchy subject.  While it should never be the main motivation for surrogacy, every surrogate should be educated on the topic before embarking on a journey.   Having general knowledge about the components of a  compensation package will help her to advocate for herself throughout her journey as a surrogate. 

We’d love to talk to you more about giving the gift of family.  Fill out your application here to find out if you qualify!