A lot of people — including prospective surrogates — have misconceptions about how surrogates are compensated.
This topic actually plays a large role in the controversy surrounding gestational surrogacy today. When, how much, and how surrogates are paid can be confusing for someone new to surrogacy. That’s why we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about this topic here.
Below, learn the basics about surrogate compensation. But, remember: The best way to learn about this topic will always be by speaking with an experienced surrogacy professional.
1. What is Surrogate Income?
The first thing you should know about surrogate compensation is exactly what it is. A lot of surrogacy professionals will mislead surrogates into thinking compensation includes more than it actually does, so it’s important to have this knowledge from the very beginning.
“Surrogate money,” by definition, is base compensation that a woman is paid for her services as a gestational carrier. This is payment to do with as she wishes. It is paid out in installments (usually after pregnancy is confirmed) and at an agreed-upon rate by both a surrogate and her intended parents. When it comes to surrogate income, its “meaning” is typically interpreted as the compensation paid to a surrogate — no strings attached.
However, some surrogacy professionals will include other payments in a woman’s surrogate compensation, which can get confusing. When you research surrogacy professionals, you may find that some promise higher compensation rates. Often, it’s because these professionals include the money that will be paid to you in order to cover surrogacy expenses. This isn’t compensation to do with as you wish; it’s money that you’ll have to use to ensure your surrogacy journey is free to you.
Sometimes, compensation rates can include:
- Maternity clothes
- Travel costs
- Medical and pregnancy-related costs
- Lost wages from appointments and bedrest
- And more
With other agencies, these same expenses will be covered — but in addition to your base compensation. These costs won’t come out of your base surrogate income. When you work with an agency that doesn’t include these expenses in their compensation rate, they will still be covered by your intended parents, although paid out separately.
So, before you choose a surrogacy professional, make sure you are 100% aware of what its surrogate income “meaning” actually is. Only that way can you choose the professional who is best for your needs and preferences.
2. What is the Average Surrogate Compensation?
Now, onto the biggest question that prospective surrogates ask: How much do gestational carriers get paid?
Every surrogacy professional will offer a different compensation rate. Usually, the rate is based on a surrogate’s location, experience, medical background and more. The best way to determine your surrogate compensation is by interviewing various professionals.
On average, a first-time surrogate in the United States gets paid a base compensation of $45,000. However, experienced surrogates can regularly demand higher rates, as can surrogates living in California, where the industry is booming and carriers are in high demand.
As mentioned above, take all compensation rates with a grain of salt as you try to find the professional who is right for you. Don’t just focus on the numbers — does a certain surrogacy professional also offer all the support and services that you deserve during your surrogacy journey?
3. How are Surrogates Paid?
As both intended parents and prospective surrogates learn more about the surrogacy process and compensation, there can be some more confusion about how surrogates are paid. Sometimes, intended parents think they will pay surrogates directly for their services — which would seem awkward and impersonal.
Fortunately, how surrogates are compensated is a bit more professional than that. Surrogacy professionals often have partnerships with experienced escrow services. These services are the ones responsible for managing a carrier’s compensation payment. An escrow service serves as the middleman with this complicated topic, which allows both parties to focus on building a true relationship rather than financial details.
4. When Do Surrogate Mothers Get Paid?
Let’s be clear: Surrogates are never expected to pay for their own surrogacy journey. Therefore, you’ll start receiving payments and reimbursements from the start of your process. All of your preliminary expenses — screenings, matchings, and more — will be covered by your surrogacy agency.
But, when does a surrogate mother get paid her base compensation?
As mentioned above, every surrogacy professional is different, as will be their compensation payment timeline. However, most professionals will wait to start paying base compensation until a pregnancy is confirmed with a heartbeat (usually around six weeks into the pregnancy). How much and how frequently a surrogate will be paid compensation will depend upon the professional’s policies.
Talk in depth with a professional about its compensation timeline before you choose the right one for you.
5. Where Can I Learn More About Surrogate Compensation?
While this article should answer some of your biggest questions about what surrogate income is and how it works, it cannot address all of the specifics of this complicated topic. That’s what surrogacy professionals are for.
Next Steps to Becoming a Surrogate
If you’re interested in becoming a gestational carrier and learning more about the compensation you will be entitled to, speak with a surrogacy professional today. They can help you get started on your journey whenever you are ready!