If you are looking for an alternative way to build a family—on your own or with a partner—then two options are worth consideration: adoption and surrogacy.
Although both adoption and surrogacy are viable options, choosing which to pursue can be a challenge. The choice will depend on several factors, such as your budget, the costs involved in each process, whether you want a biological child, and the time required to complete the process.
Regarding the average cost of each process, expect to pay around $30,000 for a traditional adoption. Surrogacy is more expensive and can range from $100,000 to $150,000, depending on various factors.
With that in mind, the following is a breakdown of the average costs of adoption and surrogacy.
How Much Does Adoption Cost?
The cost of adopting a child significantly varies based on several factors. In some cases, it can cost upward of $60,000; in other cases, it can be completely free of cost. The cost of adoption depends on the type of adoption you pursue and your location.
With that in mind, the following are some of the factors that affect the cost of adoption:
Foster Care Adoption
Adopting a child from foster care is the least expensive adoption option. Some foster care homes do not charge a fee for this type of adoption because they are state-funded. However, the process for foster care adoption may be time-consuming, as it can take up to a year for you to be matched with the right child.
Note also that you may have to pay a home study fee of $1,000–$5,000 to ensure that your home is suitable for a child. If you are adopting from foster care via an adoption agency, you may also have to pay agency fees.
In domestic adoption, a child or infant is placed in the care of adoptive parents living within the same country. The domestic adoption process typically takes between six and twelve months to complete, with costs ranging from $25,000 to upward of $30,000—and sometimes even higher.
The cost may depend on many factors:
- If you use an adoption agency or adopt independently
- The time it takes for your profile to be approved by the adoption agency
- The age and medical history of each birth parent
- Adoption home studies
- Court fees associated with domestic adoption
- Legal representation during the private placement period
In international adoption, a child or infant is placed in the care of adoptive parents living outside their home country. The international adoption process takes significantly more time to complete than the domestic adoption process. It can take up to three years for an adoption process to be completed—and even longer in some cases.
International adoptions cost between $25,000 and upward of $50,000. These costs depend on whether you are using an agency and what country you are adopting a child from.
Independent adoption is directly arranged between the birth parents and adoptive parents, without the assistance of an adoption agency. You would have to find the birth mother yourself, and you would have to hire a lawyer to handle the legal process.
The legalities of this adoption process vary from state to state, so researching the process for your particular location and considering how much time you have budgeted for completing a private adoption is essential.
In general, an independent adoption will cost between $15,000 and $40,000, including the cost of retaining the services of a lawyer to help with the process.
These costs will cover the following:
- Birth mother’s medical fees
- Court fees
- Social worker costs
- Legal representation for birth parents and adoptive parents
Adopting a child through an agency is the most expensive way to go about the adoption process. You can expect agency fees to run between $15,000 and $30,000, although they do vary from agency to agency based on the services they provide.
These fees often do not include legal fees, home study fees, or fees for post-placement supervisory visits. Employing an agency is worth the cost for many parents because they help you find a birth parent and essentially guide you through the entire adoption process.
How Much Does Surrogacy Cost?
Surrogacy is when a surrogate carries and gives birth to a child for another person or couple who will become the legal parents of that child. There are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm. The child will be biologically related to the surrogate and one of the intended parents.
In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate, or gestational carrier, has an embryo created from the intended parents’ egg and sperm, transferred into her uterus. The resulting child is not biologically related to the surrogate.
Surrogacy is more expensive than adoption because of the compensation the surrogate will demand for her time and effort, and the additional costs associated with medical expenses and adoption-related fees.
Typically, a couple may spend about $40,000–$75,000 for a traditional surrogate; however, traditional surrogates are not a promoted practice, as it has many psychosocial and legal challenges. A gestational surrogate—legal in most states—can range in cost from $100,000 to $150,000.
To get a more detailed understanding of how much surrogacy will potentially cost you, read this article.
Some agencies specialize in surrogacy arrangements. These agencies typically charge fees or commissions to clients for arranging the surrogacy. The cost of working with such an agency often includes surrogate compensation, medical expenses associated with pregnancy, and legal parentage paperwork.
Although this cost is higher than that of directly working with a surrogate (with no “middle man”), an agency can make the process easier and safer for all parties.
Surrogacy agencies perform screenings to ensure you find a good surrogate match. They also provide counseling services, legal services, and general support throughout the process and act as a mediator between you and the surrogate or gestational carrier.
Because different agencies offer different services (and many have multiple plans to choose from), agency fees significantly vary. However, on average, expect the agency fees of reputable providers to hover around the $40,000 mark. Keep in mind that this number does not include the surrogate’s compensation or medical costs.
The following are some of the services an agency will provide in exchange for fees:
- Surrogate criminal background checks
- Social work visits
- Medical record review
- Insurance review
- Psychological screening of the surrogate
- Coordination of appointments, travel, legal contracts, and escrow establishment
- Pregnancy management
- Consultation services
The compensation you have to pay a surrogate will vary based on whether you are using an agency, the state they live in, and their experience.
Expect the compensation for a surrogate to be between $30,000 and $50,000. Additional expenses may also be charged, such as medical and legal expenses.
Other expenses you may have to incur on top of the base compensation include the following:
- Travel costs to doctor’s appointments
- Housekeeping help during pregnancy
- Small insurance copays
- Miscellaneous pregnancy expenses (such as prenatal vitamins and supplements)
- Compensation for lost wages if the surrogate misses work due to pregnancy, appointments, or recovery from birth
You will have to cover many medical costs. Some of these costs, such as screenings, may be covered by insurance.
First, surrogates must undergo a medical examination to ensure that they are fit and healthy enough to carry out the surrogacy arrangement. The surrogate must undergo a medical background check to determine whether she is suited for surrogacy and to ensure she does not have any hereditary diseases or conditions.
With that in mind, you may have to pay for the following medical costs:
- Medical screenings
- IVF procedures
- Donor egg or donor sperm retrieval
- Hormone injections
- Labor and delivery fees
- Unforeseen medical complications related to the pregnancy
These costs will vary but could end up being upward of $23,000.
If you are working with an agency, before you sign a contract, they should provide you with a list of any medical costs that will be covered by insurance.
For example, some agencies may offer medical insurance to the surrogate, covering all her pregnancy-related medical costs throughout this adoption arrangement.
You should also check if the agency provides insurance for pre-existing conditions or health risks with either the surrogate or yourself. It is important to understand that a surrogacy pregnancy may not be covered by the surrogate’s insurance policy, especially if you are directly working with a surrogate and no agency is involved.
If this is the case, you will be required to pay for the insurance costs. Insurance premiums can cost you around $10,000. These plans are expensive but will typically cover all medical costs associated with surrogacy.
There are several legalities to be aware of when considering surrogacy arrangements. For the arrangement to proceed, both yourself and the surrogate will have to sign contracts which detail all responsibilities and expectations before pregnancy begins and after birth.
If you are dealing with a surrogate without the help of a third party, legal fees can be expensive, especially if things do not progress smoothly. Legal fees can be as high as $15,000.
Which One Is For You?
When considering adoption versus surrogacy costs, you should weigh all your options and details before making a final decision.
Figuring out whether you want the help of an agency is also critical. Working with an agency, regardless of whether you have decided on adoption or surrogacy, can help make the entire process much easier.
However, working with an agency can be more expensive. When it comes down to it, the best choice for you depends on your budget and your specific needs.
Find out how you can save money on surrogacy.