“How much does a surrogate get paid?” With this question being the most searched phrase in relation to surrogacy, it’s no surprise that surrogate agencies try to attract first-time gestational surrogates by advertising hefty compensation packages of $100,000. The problem? It is false advertising!
Yes, ethical surrogate agencies will always facilitate a fair compensation package for a surrogate’s sacrifice and time. However, some agencies run advertisements that state a first-time surrogate will make up to $100,000—which is extremely misleading, and most of the time, completely false. Once the inquiring woman clicks on the ad, she is directed to a website where one of two things usually happens:
1. A more realistic depiction of what a first-time surrogate compensation package looks like is revealed; or,
2. The agency stands by its unrealistic claim that a first-time surrogate will make $100,000. As a result, the woman decides to apply to be a surrogate with that agency. Once she is accepted, the agency tells her that the intended parent(s) who were offering $100,000 have already found their surrogate. The agency will continue to lead her on for months until she is matched with new intended parent(s) who offer her half of what was originally promised, and she is tired of waiting so she accepts.
So, how much does a Surrogate actually get paid?
It depends. Each agency is structured a little differently, but ultimately, every woman is provided with a full list of compensation and reimbursements she is going to receive while acting as a gestational surrogate. This list is called a surrogate benefit package, and can include the following compensation, allowances and other benefits:
● Monthly compensation for pregnancy
● Additional compensation for twins or triplets
● Monthly non-accountable expense allowance begins at the legal start of the contract with your intended parent(s) and continues until one month after the baby is born. This allowance is for over-the-counter medication, local travel, cell phone and data use for local calls and basically a fee for being matched with her intended parent(s).
● IVF/embryo transfer fee is given every time you have an embryo transfer for your intended parent(s). Compensation can also include lost wages and childcare.
● Maternity clothing allowance
● Paid attendance fee for monthly support group meetings.
● Weekly housekeeping stipend
● IVF physician appointment fee if you’re a full-time employee and have to miss work for an appointment.
● Canceled cycle fee if you begin stimulation medication, and then, through no fault of your own, the cycle is canceled.
● Life insurance
● Medical insurance
● Physician-recommended C-section fee to cover the additional pain, suffering and recovery time that occurs with a C-section delivery, including childcare and housekeeping.
● Physician-ordered bed rest
● Weekly compensation for supplying breast milk
● Invasive procedure fee in the event of a DNC, fetal reduction, etc.
● Travel compensation if your IVF clinic is out-of-city.
● Pregnancy wellness program that includes monthly acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and high-quality prenatal vitamins.
● Other benefits include agency retreat weekends and annual family events.
Surrogate compensation for some agencies fluctuates based on:
1. Location-Some states surrogates get paid more, such as California
2. Experience-women who have been surrogates successfully (delivered) are always paid higher than a first-time surrogate.
3. Intended Parent(s)-sometimes intended parent(s) will pay their surrogate more than the average, but it is unlikely.
4. Health Insurance
Before the pandemic, surrogate mothers were typically paid about $35,000 in total benefits. Today, news reports from USN and PBS state that surrogate benefit packages range from $25,000 to $60,000. At Surrogate Alternatives, we offer our first-time surrogates around $50,000 in compensation and benefits for a singleton pregnancy for their help in the process.
While the majority of agencies do not use the ‘bait and switch’ tactic to attract new surrogates, however, it is important to be aware of the ones that do. It is also important to know what else to watch out for when choosing a reputable surrogate agency to work with.
How do you know if an agency is ethical (or reputable)?
Finding the right agency to partner with during your journey can be a challenge, especially for first-time surrogates. To help you during your selection process, we’ve put together five main questions to ask yourself and/or the agency as you go through the vetting process:
1. Will the Surrogate Agency support me through the entire process?
Surrogacy is an emotional process—you need an agency that will help guide and support you through your entire journey. Look for an agency that offers support group meetings, retreats, and other opportunities for you to bond and connect with other surrogates. Make sure you also select an agency that is willing to act as a proxy for your intended parent(s) by attending major medical appointments and other essential milestones when the intended parent(s) cannot physically be there.
At Surrogate Alternatives, our philosophy is simple: treat our surrogates well and care for them in the absence of their intended parent(s), because well-cared for surrogates mean happy surrogates and healthier babies.
2. Is the Surrogate agency transparent and honest?
The most important things to look for in an agency are honesty and transparency. When speaking with your agency, there should always be open communication, and all your questions should be answered with direct responses. You should never feel that you have been misled, or that the agency has over promised and under delivered.
3. Is money the driving factor for the agency?
Along with misleading surrogates about compensation, unethical agencies will try to nickel and dime intended parent(s) by asking the surrogate to start collecting receipts before she is officially in a contract so that she can maximize profit. While it is absolutely OK to expect compensation for your time and sacrifice, the agency should never ask you to expense things unrelated to your pregnancy.
Additionally, ethical agencies will not accept intended parent(s) or surrogates based on money. Period. As we mentioned before, this process is emotional for the surrogate, and for the intended parent(s). Each party, including the agency, should have a strong desire to help create a family as the driving factor—compensation should always be secondary.
Lastly, an ethical agency won’t push a match on you. Matching is a lengthy process for a reason. The surrogate and the intended parent(s) should take the time to learn about each other and decide for themselves that they would like to match. Since you and your intended parent(s) are on this journey for several months, you want to make sure you’re with someone who you feel a connection with. Here are a few tips on how to get matched.
4. Does the Surrogate agency follow state and federal laws?
While this may seem like an obvious thing to watch out for, it is often overlooked. Reputable agencies will always adhere to federal laws and state guidelines. In addition, agencies should have their own set of best practices and qualifications for the surrogate and the intended parent(s).
5. Does the Surrogate agency have good reviews, awards, or recognitions?
When choosing an agency to partner with, it is absolutely vital that you pick an agency that has testimonials from past surrogates and intended parent(s). You can even go a step further and ask the agency to connect you with past surrogates or allow you to join one of their events or monthly support group meetings. Also, the agency should be a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited business with awards and recognition from other companies such as American Fertility Association and SEEDS.
If you are interested in becoming a surrogate at Surrogate Alternatives, please visit our website and fill out the intro surrogate application form. Once we receive your initial application, we will reach out to you to introduce ourselves. If it feels like a good fit, we will send you a link to the full application.
Questions? Please reach out to us at 619-397-0757 or email us at [email protected].