Agreeing to become a surrogate mother means giving up approximately 10 months of your life to become pregnant, go through gestation, labor and delivery, and then give the baby to others who will become his parents. It is a life-changing experience for which the surrogate is compensated. Fees vary for different agencies, but in general all expenses for the pregnancy are paid, as well as a fee to the surrogate mother.
Becoming a Surrogate
The majority of surrogate agencies require an intensive application process to become a surrogate parent. The initial application asks for a family history, a medical history, the number of past pregnancies, the number of current children and other issues that paint a picture of the potential surrogate’s ability to go through with such a monumental commitment. Once that step is completed, the agency decides whether to invite the applicant to undergo the next step, which includes medical examinations, psychological examinations and, if approved, a signed contract to provide a baby to intended parents through the agency.
After the surrogate mother has approved and been approved by the intended parents, a contract is drawn up detailing the payment amounts and schedules that will be followed throughout the process. Agencies handle the payment schedules differently. Payments are often deposited by the intended parents into an escrow account at a bank or other financial institution, in which funds are earmarked specifically for the duration of the pregnancy. The account is managed by a third party, such as the bank. Payments are released from the escrow account as the bills come due. The contract details what the payments are for, as well as when they should be released to the surrogate. The surrogate agency also charges the intended parents a fee to handle the payment monitoring, set up all necessary testing to screen surrogates and match the surrogate with the intended parents.
Preparation for pregnancy generally includes hormone injections and medical exams. The surrogate is bound by contract not to put harmful agents into her body from the time she is matched with intended parents to the post-delivery period. This usually includes tobacco, drugs and alcohol, but can be as restrictive as forbidding her to eat refined sugars or processed foods. Method of delivery is sometimes stipulated as possible in the contract, with some intended parents preferring natural childbirth. The surrogate often participates in childbirth preparation classes as well as keeping fit on her own.
Fees for Service
Though surrogacy fees vary for different agencies, the use of funds held in escrow for the surrogacy process are carefully detailed. Application fees for the parents can run about $500 while legal expenses often hit $15,000. These expenses do not go directly to the surrogate mother, but they do benefit her by maintaining legal supervision of the process and ensuring that she and the intended parents are financially protected.
The surrogate mother usually receives a fee in addition to her medical and other expenses Bfor her participation. Becoming a surrogate is like accepting a 24-hour a day job for approximately 20 months. Intended parents typically compensate the surrogate for her commitment with a predetermined cash fee. The total fee is usually divided monthly, by trimester or paid in a lump sum following a successful delivery. In addition to her other expenses, she will usually receive a maternity clothing allowance and flat-fee payments for her contribution. According to Surrogatemothers.com, the average fee in 2010 ranges from $0, for those women who volunteer their services, often to a friend, to approximately $20,000.
The surrogate mother’s medical expenses are also paid by the intended parents. This includes all ob-gyn visits for prenatal care. It may also include any additional medical care needed in the interest of the surrogate’s general health and comfort. This is determined when the contract is drawn up and agreed to by both parties. In addition, the cost of labor and delivery is borne by the intended parents, who may also pay for childbirth preparation classes for the surrogate. Some surrogate agreements have a built-in emergency fund clause. This clause provides a predetermined amount of money that is held in escrow for items such as car repairs or unusual circumstances, such as preventing the surrogate mother from getting evicted from her residence. Essentially, this funding would be used to maintain the surrogate’s living safety and comfort during the pregnancy. Any portion of the funds not used would be returned to the intended parents following delivery. While the expenses and emergency money do not come directly to the surrogate mother, it does alleviate any financial risk to her if the intended parents decide to walk away from the agreement.