The Cost of Surrogacy
In this video, Page Provan Family & Fertility Lawyers’ Director Stephen Page, discusses the high costs associated with surrogacy, particularly for Australian couples.
G’day, it’s Stephen Page from Page Provan and Family and Fertility Lawyers.
Recently, with all the focus on Greece and the surrogacy disaster there with Mediterranean Fertility Institute, the media has written a lot, broadcast a lot about surrogacy, and one story that’s come up has been about the cost of surrogacy.
An Australian couple from Victoria, Mark Bowness and his husband, have blown $300,000 to have a child through surrogacy. The first thing that immediately leaps out, well, why didn’t they do it at home? and the reality is that most Australian intended parents undertake surrogacy overseas.
There’s a variety of reasons for that, but one of those is availability of surrogates, we just have a shortage, and in broad terms, for every child born in Australia via surrogacy, four, I should say, are born overseas.
So four to one, or put it another way, one in five are born in Australia, about 20 %. So 80 % go overseas, I think that number really illustrates the scale of the problem. Most have to go overseas if they want to get there because they can’t find a local surrogate, much as they prefer to do it here.
So this couple, Mark Bowness , and his husband spent $300,000. You go, how on Earth could you spend that kind of money? Well, they started off going to Mexico and they spent $60,000 going there and then the embryos didn’t work. It was a bust.
So it took them a while to regroup and they were a bit sore and sorry for themselves and then decided to go to the US and in the process spent about another $250,000 Australian.
These numbers aren’t a surprise to me. If you’re going to the US at the moment, then you’re looking at about $300,000 for the cost of your surrogacy journey for one child. Mexico, as I say in another video about trending surrogacy destinations, is a trending surrogacy destination.
But a problem in going to any developing country or post-Soviet country is the quality of IVF. Don’t assume that the quality of IVF is going to be at Australian standards. It may or may not be.
Recently, I spoke at the International Surrogacy Forum in Copenhagen, and an academic from Africa I respect very much said that the quality of IVF in Africa is as good as that anywhere else in the world.
Without criticising her chief point, that certainly wasn’t the experience of clients of mine who tried to send their embryos from an Australian clinic to an African clinic, and the Australian clinic didn’t want to send the embryos until they knew that the clinic overseas in Africa was a safe place for the embryos to go. What’s your registration?
They asked. Well, of course, we’re registered. No, no, no. You say on your website that you’re registered with, and from recollection, it was ESHRE, which is the European Society for Human Reproduction and Endocrinology.
It’s basically the equivalent of the Fertility Society of Australia and New Zealand, but for Europe, and here they were in Africa with that registration. Okay, show us your registration. The registration was three years out of date. The Australian clinic refused to send the embryos.
It wasn’t going to put its reputation on the line. In going to Mexico, the quality of IVF can vary. There isn’t the same standards, I would suggest, universally adopted by all the clinics in Mexico.
The standard, the quality of IVF there can vary dramatically, and it’s really hard unless you know people you can trust who can then refer you to clinics that are good, and even then there’s no guarantee of success as to whether it’s going to work.
By contrast, currently, the US, it’s about 300,000 or just under that for Australians to do surrogacy there for one child, and there’ve been a number of trends about why there’s this cost. I’m afraid to say, and this is being recorded in September ’23, the cost is likely to go up.
The first reason the cost has gone up is because, and this is the effect of the war in Ukraine, the US dollar is up, the Aussie dollar’s down. So because of the exchange rate, suddenly things are a lot more expensive in the US, and if the people in the money market are correct, and we know how often they get things wrong.
But if they’re correct, then it’s likely the Aussie dollar is going to go down by early 2024 and if you’re thinking about going to do surrogacy in the US, consider doing it now if those trends are right, because it’s just going to be more expensive than even these numbers.
The second reason, and you’ve seen it all in the media, is that there’s been inflation, general inflation in the US, and that’s pushed the prices of everything up to a degree and then the third reason is because the cost of surrogates there has gone up and we’ve seen two reasons for that, two causes, and the first I’ve already named, which is the war in Ukraine, and it’s being exacerbated by Georgia stopping surrogacy from the first of January, and I’ve done a separate video about that.
But also the COVID pandemic, it held back demand, and then, of course, after the restrictions ended, those who couldn’t go to the US from China and Europe suddenly going there, and the number of women who are prepared to be surrogates dropped.
So you have this perfect storm of increased prices, and I’m afraid to say that’s the lot at the moment. You have a choice of going to somewhere like the US or going to Canada, which is considerably cheaper, but there have been great difficulties with clients of mine recently matching with surrogates in Canada, and it’s because of this worldwide trend.
It’s still happening, and I’ve had clients match recently, which is good, but it’s a lot slower, and so we’ve seen a trend towards other destinations, including Mexico.
I talk about that in the video, Surrogate, upcoming, in Surrogacy destinations. Have a look at that video. But for the moment, if you’re looking at the US, about $300,000.