Having a child is a unique blessing. If you’re lucky enough to have your own children, then you understand. It’s a singular joy. So if you’ve decided to be a surrogate mother for a childless couple, you have my eternal gratitude and admiration
But if you’re going to carry a baby for one of the 15% of US couples who can’t carry a pregnancy of their own, you should know something. There is a price tag.
I’m not talking about the professional surrogate mother who enlists with a luxury surrogacy agency. For her, the agency will cover the expenses, manage the parents, and pay her handsomely in both salary and benefits. (Although, a surrogacy agency may take as much money as she will for their limited participation.)
Instead, I’m talking about the unique breed of woman who volunteers to be a surrogate for a friend, family member, or childless couple without the exorbitant salary. That takes a spectacular act of generosity. But don’t let your altruism blind you to the actual costs. To make sure your kindness doesn’t leave you broke, here are some things that you should know before you become a surrogate mother for your friend.
What Is Surrogacy and What’s Involved?
Surrogacy is fertility treatment where a woman (the “Surrogate Mother”) carries a pregnancy for a childless couple and then gives the baby to them after the delivery. The surrogate is not usually the genetic mother –her eggs are not used to conceive the baby. Sperm and eggs are provided by the baby’s ultimate parents, a.k.a. the “Intended Parents”. The surrogate just carries the baby.
The surrogacy arrangement tends to involve a legally signed agreement, in which the surrogate agrees to take care of herself and the pregnancy, and the parents agree to take care of the surrogate. In the end, according to the Agreement, the Intended Parents receive the baby and full parental rights under the law.
Being a surrogate mother may help bring joy to friends, relatives, and other couples having difficulties bearing a child. That glimmer of hope and joy that shines in the eyes of these people once both parties agree to legal conditions about the birth of their children might be one of your life’s greatest achievements.
However, keep in mind that surrogates agree to a lot of restrictions when they sign up. Of course there’s no smoking or drinking. According to WhatToExpect.com, there’s also a long list of foods for pregnant women to avoid. Say goodbye to deli meats, shellfish, sushi, coffee, raw fruit, and all sorts of junk food. Some parents expect the surrogate will not travel, work or have sex (at least not during various stages of the pregnancy). Forget about hair dyes and a variety of grooming products that contain objectionable chemicals. You may have shrugged off these warnings with your own pregnancy – but don’t expect the intended parents will be so casual.
Talk it all over with the parents. Hear their demands. If you’re willing to sacrifice, good for you! It’s time to think about the next step.
You’re Going to Need Insurance
Do you have medical insurance? Even if you do, that doesn’t mean you won’t be saddled with medical bills. Bill Houghton, director of the Sensible Agency, a surrogacy agency that advises independent journeys, many insurance policies won’t cover maternity care specifically exclude surrogacy pregnancies.
“Many surrogates think that having insurance means their prenatal care or the delivery will be covered,” Houghton says. “Then they’re shocked when deductibles and copayments leave them with thousands of dollars in medical bills once the baby is born.” Typical deductibles can be as high as $8,000. Copayments can include 20% of the medical costs. If the baby needs an incubator, medical costs are often $5000 per day.
The problem is that the medical costs of surrogacy aren’t often noticed until the final bill arrives from the hospital, as Houghton explains. The surrogate is technically the patient, so all of the bills are in her name. If the parents default for any reason, it’s all reported on the surrogate’s financial history. That could be devastating to her credit history and financial health for years.”
To avoid disaster, the intended parents should check your insurance policy for all the terms. If there are high deductibles, it may be cheaper to buy a new, more friendly policy. That policy should cover your entire family as well.
Non-Medical Costs of Surrogacy
Other than the medical costs, surrogate mothers often find a variety of additional expenses. If you’re not careful, you may end up paying for these “out of pocket” expenses yourself.
If you have your own children before (and all surrogates should have had at least one successful pregnancy) you’ll remember that being pregnant is not cheap. Most obviously, none of your clothes are going to fit after the first trimester. Plan on a whole new wardrobe of comfortable and practical clothes.
Vitamins and hormone supplements are common during the pregnancy, and that can add hundreds to the cost of being pregnant. Pregnant women have special dietary needs to consider. A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not expecting, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Lean and healthy foods are often more expensive than cheaper common alternatives you may be accustomed to buying. Your’ grocery bills will certainly expand.
Getting to your prenatal office visits may be an expensive chore as well. On at least two occasions you’ll be asked to travel overnight. It’s uncommon that the chosen Surrogacy Clinic will be in your backyard. Most often the clinic will be in a different state, and you’ll need to travel at least twice – and usually for a few days each time (once for a medical evaluation and another for the embryo transfer). Each time you need to travel, there are plane tickets or car mileage. But don’t forget the cost of childcare if you need to be away from home.
Loss of Work
It’s not uncommon for doctors to recommend bedrest during a pregnancy. This is especially true with twins pregnancies, which are 65% likely to have complications or arrive prematurely. If you’re confined to your bed, that means no salary from your usual work — that will be a big blow to the family budget. If your pregnancy has some complications, then you could face thousands of dollars in lost wages.
Being confined to bed means more than just missing work. Even if you don’t work, someone still needs to look after the kids and your home. If your husband needs to stay home and look after your family, his lost wages are an additional expense as well.
If you or your husband can’t miss work, you may be forced to hire a babysitter or housekeeper to do the chores you won’t be able to. That is likely to add several hundred dollars every week that you’re required to rest.
You may also be confined to bed rest after the delivery. If the baby arrives via a C-section or the birth is a difficult one, you may be unable to work for 2 to 3 weeks. Every additional day is an added expense, and you should have an agreement with the intended parents on how much they are willing to pay you if you encounter your own expenses mounting up.
Becoming a surrogate mother to a friend, relative, or a couple can become one of life’s most fulfilling practices for you. Also, there’s no harm in feeding your mind with additional information about surrogacy. In particular, let this article help fill your mind with extra details about the different costs of being a surrogate mother.