Best Surrogacy Agencies

Hatch is our pick for best surrogacy agency

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Building a family can be an exciting experience. But for the 15% of American couples who struggle with infertility and for countless others (like single people who want to have a child and LGBTQ+ couples), parenthood can be a difficult journey. For various reasons, some may need or prefer surrogacy to adoption or birth via other assisted reproductive technology. In these situations, a surrogacy agency can help make those dreams of parenthood become a reality. Surrogacy agencies specialize in third-party reproductive care. They help match parents with gestational carriers, liaise between doctors and attorneys, and ensure that the surrogacy process runs as safely and smoothly as possible for everyone involved. 

Surrogacy is a complex medical process. From beginning to end, parents, doctors, and gestational carriers must work together to ensure the best results for any future children. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Sarah Jessica Parker have raised awareness about surrogacy, but aspiring parents may still feel overwhelmed as they consider parenting plans, medical concerns, and financial costs. Since no two families are alike, many may wonder how they should choose the best surrogacy agency based on their unique circumstances. 

In this list, we rank the top surrogacy agencies based on factors like insurance coverage, healthcare support, implantation success rates, and more.

Best Surrogacy Agencies of 2023

​​This article uses the terms "surrogacy" and "surrogacy agency" even though the term "surrogate" is largely considered outdated when referring to someone who carries a baby for a couple who can't conceive on their own. A "surrogate" uses their own genetic material while a gestational carrier is not genetically related to the fetus. We use the terms here because it's how the agencies refer to themselves and the process, and so we want to be accurate for search purposes.

Best Overall : Hatch Egg Donation and Surrogacy


Hatch Fertility

Hatch Fertility

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $148,750 to $225,000
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes 
Why We Chose It

Hatch rose to the top of our list because the agency boasts a strong success rate (99%), impressive gestational carrier compensation policies, and three different surrogacy plans.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Variety of plans for different budgets

  • Gestational carriers qualify for perks like extra compensation for time off work 

  • Over 99% success rate 

  • Locations across the United States and in other countries

Cons
  • Signing up to be a gestational carrier can be arduous 

  • Website lists loans but no grants or reduced cost options 

  • Some non-medical screening factors for egg donors or gestational carriers may come across as superficial 

Overview

Hatch has facilitated 8,000 egg donations and surrogacies (and counting) since 1991. During this time, It has cultivated a reputation as one of the largest and most reliable surrogacy agencies in the United States. 

This agency has different plans to meet different parents’ needs. Whether you’re paying for the base fixed fee or the premium Baby Guarantee plan, you can expect to receive comprehensive support. The agency helps coordinate each step of the surrogacy process: medical procedures, travel plans, legal consultations, and more.

Over 99% of Hatch’s patients leave the program with a child because Hatch offers unlimited embryo transfers. The agency also has selective selection criteria for gestational carriers, all of whom must have had at least one full-term, uncomplicated pregnancy before signing up to be a gestational carrier with Hatch. And, if a gestational carrier and the aspiring parents do not seem compatible, Hatch has a free rematching program.

Hatch also stuck out to us because of its unique gestational carrier perks. Gestational carriers may qualify for customized care packages, financial assistance if they need to take time off work while they’re pregnant, and child care allowances. 

Best Without Insurance : SENSIBLE Surrogacy


SENSIBLE Surrogacy

SENSIBLE Surrogacy

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: Starts at $28,000.00 for U.S.-based plans
  • Insurance accepted? Not for SENSIBLE’s agency fees, but SENSIBLE can advise intended parents and gestational carriers about insurance options for other procedures or needs
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

SENSIBLE’s "variable cost" model allows patients to customize their surrogacy journey and save money by choosing their own health procedures, benefits, and providers.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Provides low-cost, customizable plans

  • Encourages a close relationship between gestational carrier and intended parents

  • Has international programs

  • Founded by LGBTQ+ parents who have been through the surrogacy process

Cons
  • Choose-your-own services model may be overwhelming for some

  • U.S.-based surrogacy program more limited than some international options 

  • Must set up a consultation to get a specific price estimate 

Overview

SENSIBLE Surrogacy excels at providing straightforward surrogacy plans. Bill Houghton and his husband founded SENSIBLE after they struggled to find an affordable, LGBTQ+-friendly surrogacy agency that could help them build their own family. 

Since 2012, SENSIBLE has offered some of the most affordable surrogacy programs in the United States. SENSIBLE implements a "variable cost" model to allow it to offer lower-cost services. Intended parents pay SENSIBLE an agency fee. The SENSIBLE team will then match the parents with a gestational carrier, arrange a gestational carrier’s medical clearance, and coordinate procedures up until the delivery. While SENSIBLE will help arrange and organize these procedures, parents will need to pay clinics or other service providers directly. One benefit of this customized model is that parents can work with their gestational carrier to choose which services they need. While other agencies may have all-inclusive fees, SENSIBLE allows clients to avoid paying extra costs for unnecessary benefits or procedures. 

Few surrogacy agencies offer this kind of build-your-own plan, which makes SENSIBLE an ideal option for intended parents who have a limited budget. And while it offers affordable plans, it does not skimp on care for its gestational carriers. SENSIBLE encourages them to take advantage of wellness packages, maternity clothing stipends, and healthcare coverage. 

Best With Insurance : Pacific Fertility Center


Pacific Fertility Center

Pacific Fertility Center

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: Starts at $16,000 for basic IVF, not including agency fees or other charges
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Pacific Fertility Center has an award-winning medical team and many insurance financing options.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Accepts several insurance plans

  • Provides free access to financial coordinators

  • Has an in-house marriage and family therapist 

  • Free monthly webinars where patients can meet providers and ask questions

Cons
  • Does not accept Medicare or Medicaid 

  • Must schedule a consultation for a specific price estimate

  • Difficult to find information on the website about matching with gestational carriers 

Overview 

Pacific Fertility Center is located in California, which is one of the most accommodating states for surrogacy. It provides thorough medical information about different insemination and implantation procedures, an array of payment options, and a variety of insurance plans.

Pacific Fertility Center leans into its status as an award-winning medical facility. For example, prospective parents can visit the center’s website to read about the step-by-step process for IVF and to learn about which families might benefit from sperm donation or egg donation. These guides can help demystify the many different options that an intended parent may have as they consider their fertility options. 

This facility is an ideal choice for people who want to make the most of their insurance coverage. The center accepts around a dozen insurance plans, including some plans that specialize in maternity care. However, patients should consult with Pacific Fertility Center financial coordinators and their own insurance providers to ensure that their insurance qualifies. 

One downside to Pacific Fertility Center is that it is primarily geared toward serving intended parents in a medical capacity. The center’s staff specializes in fertility and reproductive health. So while the center can advise parents about the best treatment options for their health needs and how they can conduct IVF, Pacific Fertility Center does not advertise specific information about gestational carrier matching other than the compensation rates that it provides to egg donors. Pacific Fertility Center may not be the best choice for aspiring parents who want to play a proactive role in interviewing or bonding with their gestational carrier. 

Best for Gestational Carriers : Growing Generations


Growing Generations logo

Growing Generations

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $175,000 to $300,000 
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Growing Generations provides upfront compensation breakdowns for gestational carriers, and benefits packages include unique perks like screening incentives and housekeeping stipends.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Transparent cost outlines

  • Fixed pricing for insurance coverage, legal referrals, and other services 

  • Clear and competitive compensation plans for gestational carriers

  • Gestational carriers paid extra for "invasive procedures"

Cons
  • Program costs do not include initial IVF treatments to create embryos 

  • Competitive application to become a gestational carrier

  • Gestational carriers who are stay-at-home parents or unemployed qualify for fewer bonuses

Overview  

Growing Generations boasts some of the most transparent pricing and compensation policies in the industry. Parents and gestational carriers alike can quickly and easily find price estimates and benefits outlined on the Growing Generations website. The agency was founded in 1996 and it was one of the first in the United States to serve gay men and single parents. 

This agency has some of the most competitive compensation rates and benefits for gestational carriers in the industry. The agency is a sort of Ivy League for gestational carriers: It accepts around 1% of applicants. and gestational carriers must have no criminal record and must undergo regular income verifications to prove that they are financially stable. 

Growing Generations’ selectivity has paid off with a strong record of successful matches. Almost all intended parents (99%) stick with their first gestational carrier match instead of requesting a new match. 

Gestational carriers receive impressive perks and comprehensive care. They can qualify for payment before they even get pregnant, and expect a minimum compensation package of $52,000. Gestational carriers receive bonuses if they have been a gestational carrier before, if they are employed, and if they live in the high-demand state of California. Compensation packages also account for maternity clothing, housekeeping, childcare, and emergency funds. 

While Growing Generations is a strong choice for gestational carriers, it does have some cons for intended parents. For example, parents should anticipate paying significant costs atop the initial agency fees. Parents are responsible for covering many of the upfront medical expenses for IVF. 

Best for LGBTQ+ Intended Parents : Golden Surrogacy


Golden Surrogacy

Golden Surrogacy

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $220,000
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Golden Surrogacy was created by LGBTQ+ parents who have personal experience with surrogacy. Agency fees come with a success guarantee.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Promises that intended parents will have a child or get their money back 

  • 24/7 care team support

  • Unlimited rematches until intended parents feel confident in their gestational carrier

Cons
  • Intended parents cannot be over 54 years old

  • Gestational carriers need to have a maximum 30 BMI

  • Advertises legal services without explaining them

Overview 

Golden Surrogacy is unique because it serves parents who live in states that might not be as accommodating for surrogacy. The agency has locations in 11 states. All of these states are technically “surrogacy-friendly,” but some have fewer protections and more red tape than gestational carrier havens like California. For example, Texas courts may or may not approve pre-birth agreements between gestational carriers and intended parents, and different courts in the state may give different rulings about the rights of the intended parents who are unmarried or single.

Surrogacy is an important family planning option for LGBTQ+ parents, and many agencies welcome LGBTQ+ parents. Founders Adam and Frank Golden have personal insight into some of the obstacles that LGBTQ+ intended parents encounter during the surrogacy process. Golden Surrogacy is not the only agency on our list that was founded by LGBTQ+ parents; however, it provides an important support system for parents who live in states that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people who want to adopt or be listed on their child’s birth certificate as a same-sex parent. 

The agency is active in states where gestational carriers and intended parents may face legal challenges and provides strong legal guidance. This support is especially beneficial for LGBTQ+ clients. For example, in Florida, one of the states where Golden Surrogacy is active, same-sex parents may not be able to automatically qualify as an adoptive second parent.

The service prioritizes LGBTQ+ parents' legal protection by connecting them to gestational carriers who live in surrogacy-friendly states. It has a strong reputation for advocating for its clients' rights to be recognized as legal parents even in states where gay people are barred from adopting.

Best Success Rate : Circle Surrogacy


Circle Surrogacy

Circle Surrogacy

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $148,000 for surrogacy alone; $172,000 for surrogacy and egg donation
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

While other agencies may promise eventual success, Circle Surrogacy stands out for its impressive implantation success rates after only one or two IVF transfers. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 99.3% success rate

  • Transparent cost breakdown for two primary plans 

  • Counseling services to help with parenting preparation and stress relief

Cons
  • Base compensation rates for gestational carriers lower than some other agencies 

  • Website indicates plans with other price points, but clients must call to inquire 

Overview  

With a near-perfect success rate, Circle Surrogacy is confident in its guarantee that aspiring parents will finish the program with a child. While other agencies have similar "baby guarantee" policies, Circle Surrogacy’s success stands out in other tangible ways. 

A surrogacy agency’s success can be measured in several forms. First, the agency may have a reliable track record of matching intended parents with gestational carriers who carry and give birth to those parents’ children. In this regard, Circle Surrogacy boasts an impressive 99.3% success rate for gestational carriers who give birth after two embryo transfers. What's more, 98.4% of gestational carriers give birth after one transfer. 

Because surrogacy is a taxing experience, many gestational carriers go through the procedure only once. However, 50% of Circle Surrogacy’s gestational carriers are returning carriers who have been through the process before, or people who have been referred to the agency by existing gestational carriers. This strong retention rate suggests that gestational carriers feel cared-for and well-matched at Circle Surrogacy.

Best Gestational Carrier Database and Matching Program : ConceiveAbilities


ConceiveAbilities

ConceiveAbilities

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $164,000
  • Insurance accepted? Yes, some
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Finding the perfect gestational carrier can be hard. ConceiveAbilities uses a unique program to assess parents’ and gestational carriers’ personalities, communication styles, and medical needs to make the best matches possible.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • All-In program bundles coverage and expenses

  • Coverage for four embryo transfers

  • Unlimited matches if your gestational carrier backs out for any reason

Cons
  • $15,000 charge for a new match if you cancel your first one

  • Postpartum arrangements like pumped breast milk not offered

  • Prospective parents pay for gestational carrier medical screening and work-up

Overview  

ConceiveAbilities sets itself apart from the competition with its Matching Matters program, which is an extensive process that assesses gestational carriers’ and parents’ personalities, communication styles, parenting wants, physical needs, and other traits. ConceiveAbilities then uses these characteristics to create customized, compatible matches. In this way, the program helps set gestational carriers and intended parents up for success before they even meet.

ConceiveAbilities is dedicated to matchmaking, and it’s paid off with impressive satisfaction scores. Ninety-seven percent of aspiring parents match with the very first gestational carrier they meet through ConceiveAbilities. This is due to the agency’s strong gestational carrier screening process. Gestational carriers go through a 10-point screening process that includes health exams and home inspections, as well as socioemotional consulting in which a ConceiveAbilities representative assesses the gestational carrier’s attitude and goals for participating in the program. 

The application process to become a gestational carrier is an intimate, personal one. Applicants have virtual interviews to discuss their motivations for being a gestational carrier. ConceiveAbilities also has mentors for gestational carriers: ambassadors who come from diverse backgrounds but who have all served as gestational carriers at ConceiveAbilities. These ambassadors have profiles on the website and invite potential gestational carriers to contact them with questions or concerns. 

Best for Availability : Family Source Consultants


Family Source Consultants

Family Source Consultants

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $132,350
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Family Source Consultants offers no-frills, affordable plans, and transparent information for intended parents across the U.S.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Locations across the U.S. and in other countries

  • Mental health support services included in the agency fee

  • Free consultations in person or over video chat

  • Welcomes single and unmarried prospective parents

Cons
  • Website does not clearly outline international fees 

  • Fee does not include maternity health coverage or insurance costs for the gestational carrier

Overview 

If prospective parents are seeking a straightforward surrogacy program without too many bells and whistles, Family Source Consultants is a strong option. The agency specializes in gestational surrogacy, and it specifically welcomes LGBTQ+ and unmarried intended parents.

Family Source Consultants is a reliable, readily available option because it charges a reasonable base fee for a host of helpful benefits, including legal guidance, matching with a gestational carrier, maternity clothing and supplies, and more. The agency maintains a down-to-earth perspective with its clean and clear website design and its candid advice to gestational carriers to talk with their intended parent(s) to determine how and how often they will communicate. 

Family Source Consultants does not promise gestational carrier soulmates or a fairy tale. Instead, this agency provides clear-cut guidance about the medical processes, communication strategies, and contingencies that intended parents need to keep in mind as they plan their surrogacy. This approach results in a promising 95% success rate. 

Alongside this level-headed attitude, Family Source Consultants maintains its value in less metaphorical ways. For example, the agency connects intended parents to Prosper Health Lending finance options that take minutes to apply for and that don’t automatically put a ding in your credit score (for loans under $35,000). The majority of the agency’s staff members have direct, personal experiences with fertility treatments like surrogacy or egg donation, so employees are always available to provide additional insight and support to patients. 

Family Source Consultants has operated in 30 countries, providing intended parents with a vast array of new cultural connections and family planning experiences.

Best Medical Care Team : Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP)


Center for Surrogate Parenting

Center for Surrogate Parenting

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $130,000 to $150,000 
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

CSP is one of the oldest surrogacy agencies in the business, and has a team of gentle medical professionals that makes exams and procedures as comfortable as possible.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Transparent descriptions of prices and services

  • Award-winning team of medical professionals

  • 40 years of surrogacy and fertility experience 

Cons
  • Advertises IVF gestational surrogacy only

  • FAQ page is difficult to navigate and lacks detail 

Overview 

As of 2022, Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP) is undergoing a brand redesign. Despite the changing website and corporate introspection, CSP remains a juggernaut in the surrogacy business. 

Part of this ethos comes from CSP’s reputation for providing a warm, professional bedside manner for patients. Its doctors use gentle care techniques to minimize patients’ discomfort during egg retrievals or transfers. Atop this extra physical care, CSP encourages intended parents and gestational carriers to make use of mental health resources. 

The agency balances clear, easy-to-read descriptions of medical procedures with kind, welcoming commentary to humanize the process. For example, on its website, CSP lists six different medical exams or requirements gestational carriers can expect to experience during their initial screening period: blood and urine tests, menstrual cycle records, a recent Pap smear, and delivery records for all of the gestational carrier’s previous pregnancies.

If a potential gestational carrier might be feeling a little squeamish after reading about these specific analyses, CSP provides reassurance: “Our team is honored to support you through this rewarding process. Contact us for more information about gestational carrier medical screening.” In this way and many others, CSP conveys a tone of genuine care by sharing personable, encouraging text and videos from team members. 

Best Parent and Gestational Carrier Services : Same Love Surrogacy


Same Love Surrogacy

Same Love Surrogacy

Key Specs
  • Cost estimate: $160,000
  • Insurance accepted? Yes
  • Legal protections? Yes
Why We Chose It

Same Love Surrogacy provides a wide array of tools and services to gestational carriers and intended parents, such as its pregnancy wellness program and surrogate support group.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Ranked as one of the top LGBTQ+ surrogacy agencies in the country 

  • Sliding scale payment plans if you bring in your own gestational carrier

  • Staff coordinators were once gestational carriers

  • Transparent breakdown of expenses

  • Provides a pregnancy wellness program

Cons
  • Outdated website that isn’t optimized for mobile users

  • List of benefits does not provide details about compensation

Overview

Same Love Surrogacy was founded by three men—all gay dads who had their own experiences with surrogacy and egg donation. The agency highlights the experiences of LGBTQ+ families, but Same Love Surrogacy welcomes aspiring parents of any gender identity or sexual orientation. 

The agency supports intended parents in several ways. Same Love Surrogacy provides sliding-scale payment plans and financing options to offset the prohibitive nature of surrogacy. It also has an impressive roster of experts who can consult with gestational carriers and prospective parents throughout their fertility journey: doctors, lawyers, insurance brokers, trust companies, and psychologists. 

Same Love Surrogacy offers helpful services for gestational carriers, too, such as a pregnancy wellness program and surrogate support group meetings. These activities teach gestational carriers about positive coping strategies to process the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing during the surrogacy process. 

These therapeutic and social bonding opportunities are built into the all-in-one fee that intended parents pay when they first sign up with Same Love Surrogacy. However, gestational carriers might initially be confused about how much compensation they will receive by the end of the process. For example, the agency states gestational carriers can expect to receive between $58,000 and $73,000 in compensation.

However, the website does not include an itemized breakdown of how much of that pay they should expect to invest in their healthcare. When gestational carriers are approved, they meet with an agency coordinator who can answer these specific financial questions. However, some gestational carriers might appreciate more transparency before they submit their application. 

Final Verdict

The surrogacy process can be tricky. Intended parents and gestational carriers have to consider many complicated factors: medical care, transportation, legal agreements, and more. A surrogacy agency helps coordinate these needs for you, which means that you and your gestational carrier can spend less time worrying about logistics and more time preparing for a new child.

Our Best Overall choice, Hatch, has served thousands of parents and gestational carriers since 1991, and now has locations across the U.S. and in other countries. Hatch is one of the biggest and oldest surrogacy agencies in the United States, but we were most impressed by its competitive gestational carrier compensation, financial counseling for intended parents, multilingual services, and 99% success rate.

While Hatch made it to the top of our list, surrogacy is an intimate and personal experience. LGBTQ+ patients might prefer Same Love Surrogacy or Golden Surrogacy because those agencies specialize in supporting queer families. Aspiring parents on a budget may find that SENSIBLE Surrogacy’s budget-friendly plans are a better fit for their financial needs.

Intended parents and gestational carriers should carefully consider all of their options by comparing different agencies to determine which one is the best fit for their needs. 

Compare the Best Surrogacy Agencies

Company Cost Estimate  Insurance Accepted  Legal Protections 
Hatch Egg Donation and Surrogacy Best Overall $148,750 - $225,000 Yes, some Yes
SENSIBLE Surrogacy Best Without Insurance  Starts at $28,000  Not for SENSIBLE’s agency fees, but SENSIBLE can advise intended parents and gestational carriers about insurance options for other costs Yes 
Pacific Fertility Center Best With Insurance  Starts at $16,000 for IVF  Yes, some  Yes 
Growing Generations Best for Gestational Carriers  $175,000 - $300,000  Yes, some  Yes 
Golden Surrogacy Best for LGBTQ+ Intended Parents $220,000  Yes, some  Yes 
Circle Surrogacy Best Success Rate  $148,000 for surrogacy, $172,000 for surrogacy and egg donation  Yes, some  Yes 
ConceiveAbilities Best Gestational Carrier Database and Matching Program  $164,000  Yes, some  Yes 
Family Source Consultants Best for Availability $132,350  Yes, some  Yes 
Center for Surrogate Parenting (CSP) Best Medical Care Team  $130,000 - $150,000  Yes, some  Yes 
Same Love Surrogacy Best Parent and Gestational Carrier Services  $160,000  Yes, some  Yes 

Guide to Choosing a Surrogacy Agency

What Is a Surrogacy Agency?

A surrogacy agency facilitates the surrogacy process through every step, which can ensure the best outcomes for the future child, the parents, and the gestational carrier. They also provide support to prospective parents who want to connect with a gestational carrier to have a child. “Although it can seem a bit intimidating and complicated to the patients, it is a relatively straightforward process for medical professionals, and we have helped many patients become parents through gestational surrogacy,” says Dara Berg, RN, MSN, WHNP, a nurse practitioner at WINFertility.

For aspiring parents like Jennifer Robertson, surrogacy agencies can provide hope. Robertson struggled with infertility for seven years, but she had two sons with a gestational carrier. “I was worried that I wouldn’t connect with my baby, or he would love his aunty more than me because he would essentially be a stranger. But as soon as he was placed on my chest, he was mine, and I was his,” says Robertson. 

Surrogacy agencies have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to: 

  • Vetting and compensating gestational carriers
  • Matching gestational carriers to potential parents
  • Coordinating travel and communication plans for gestational carriers and intended parents
  • Providing legal consultations to intended parents and gestational carriers
  • Coordinating fertility treatments and medical scans with qualified medical professionals
  • Supporting gestational carriers with routine health checks and prenatal care
  • Advising prospective parents about different egg donation or implantation options

If the agency is working with a gestational carrier in another country, the agency should advise the intended parents about citizenship or immigration concerns for the future child, how and where the gestational carrier will be giving birth, and other logistics.

One of the most vital roles of a surrogacy agency is helping intended parents find a compatible gestational carrier. Berg says, “I think it is important that the intended parents take the time to find the ‘right’ gestational carrier match. This will be a long-term relationship and is very emotional. Finding the right person can take many months, or even up to a year.” Because agencies thoroughly vet their gestational carriers, prospective parents can help streamline this matching process when they sign up with an agency.

How to Compare Surrogacy Agencies If You’re a Prospective Parent

Many prospective parents spend countless hours (and dollars) on their path to parenthood. The first step is to decide whether or not surrogacy is the right choice for you and your family. “There are many reasons why one would choose to use a gestational carrier,” says Barry Witt, MD, the Consulting Medical Director at Greenwich Fertility. “These include the absence of a uterus (previous hysterectomy or same-sex male couples), medical contraindications to pregnancy (medical disorders that will make pregnancy too risky for them to undertake), or many previous failed attempts with fertility treatments (IVF) on their own.”

Selecting a surrogacy agency is a big decision, and intended parents should be prepared for their surrogacy to be a lengthy process. When Robertson found a gestational carrier, she was disappointed that “the process wasn’t as easy as we had anticipated in actually getting pregnant. It didn’t just take one go. I think we were surprised how hard it was, especially because we were using someone who had two previous pregnancies and children with no issues.”

Here are some of the key factors that parents might consider when they’re seeking a surrogacy agency: 

  • Agency fees: What are they, and do they cover legal consultations, gestational carrier care, health procedures, and other essential surrogacy services? Are there hidden fees that a prospective parent should consider? 
  • Agency success rate: Does the agency offer plans that guarantee a child at the end of the process? 
  • Matching process: Can prospective parents interview and select their gestational carrier, or does the agency do the matching? 
  • Legal guidance: Does the agency offer legal guidance, financial counseling, parent planning workshops, or other services?
  • Inclusiveness: Does the agency welcome LGBTQ+ parents? 
  • Logistics: If the agency matches intended parents to gestational carriers who live outside of the U.S., how does that agency coordinate travel and communication?
  • Reputation: What is the agency’s reputation? Does it work with certified medical professionals? 
  • Affordability: Does the agency offer payment plans or financial assistance?
  • Location: Does the agency have locations that are convenient for you, or will you also have to plan for travel? 

How to Compare Surrogacy Agencies If You’re a Prospective Gestational Carrier

Surrogacy is an investment for the intended parents, but it’s also a taxing experience for a gestational carrier. Gestational carriers provide an invaluable service to families. In the process, gestational carriers have to compromise their time and their health. Reputable agencies will take every precaution possible to ensure that gestational carriers remain safe and comfortable during their pregnancy and birth. But gestational carriers should not underestimate the fact that fertility procedures can be invasive; travel to and from medical appointments can be exhausting; and pregnancy can impact a gestational carrier’s life in countless ways. 

“I’ve experienced both sides of this process—as a physician and an intended parent,” says Mark Leondires, MD, the founder and medical director of Illume Fertility and Gay Parents to Be. “Finding a surrogate is a complex process. Only about 3% of women who desire to become a surrogate are cleared to move forward.” 

Gestational carriers should compare and apply to agencies that provide the best medical care and benefits. Gestational carriers should not have to cover the medical or transportation costs related to their surrogacy. However, gestational carriers should be aware that some agencies deduct these medical and transportation costs from that gestational carrier’s overall payment. Be sure to inquire about how much you can expect to receive as a direct payment and how much will instead be allocated to other expenses. 

Gestational carriers may also want to consider the following benefits when they compare agencies: 

  • Healthcare or insurance coverage
  • How often or how far they will need to travel for appointments
  • How they will be matched with prospective parents, and how the agency may mediate any conflicts or disagreements that could arise
  • Stipends for maternity clothing, pregnancy pillows, or other supplies
  • Access to care packages or wellness coaches
  • Financial assistance to cover missed paychecks or leave from work
  • Access to education funds or childcare opportunities for existing children
  • If you’ll be compensated for your initial wellness checks or vetting during your application
  • If and how you’ll be compensated if the implantation does not work, the pregnancy is not viable, or in the case of other unexpected circumstances

How Can I Be Considered to Be a Gestational Carrier?

If you are interested in becoming a gestational carrier, you will likely need to demonstrate that you are willing and able to devote extensive amounts of time to the program. Agencies thoroughly vet applicants with physical and psychological exams. You will have the best chance of being selected as a gestational carrier if you have had at least one healthy pregnancy in the past. Some agencies only approve gestational carriers who have already undergone at least one uncomplicated pregnancy and birth. You will likely not qualify if you have a history of infertility, endometriosis, or other reproductive health challenges. 

Surrogacy agencies often exclude people who have a BMI over 33. This discrepancy does not come from beauty norms. Instead, these strict BMI standards are meant to ensure the safety of the gestational carrier and the potential fetus. Several medical studies, including a 2018 report published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, indicate that people who have a high BMI are more likely to experience issues like difficulty conceiving, miscarriage, painful pregnancies, premature birth, and preeclampsia. 

Different agencies will prioritize different qualities as they select gestational carriers. For example, some agencies have highly competitive applications and value gestational carriers who demonstrate exceptional intelligence or athleticism. Other agencies seek carriers based on location or specific traits that a prospective parent requests. As you consider becoming a gestational carrier, read and closely consider the application materials and qualifications from different agencies. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Should You Expect to Pay a Surrogacy Agency?

In general, surrogacy is an expensive and lengthy process that can be financially and emotionally taxing. The typical cost of using a gestational carrier ranges between $100,000 and $150,000, not including extra medical fees. Each agency will charge some type of base fee, and intended parents may accrue additional costs depending on if they use an egg donor, which IVF procedures they need, etc. 

Some agencies provide financial assistance through insurance plans or payment plans. However, intended parents should consult with their insurance provider, since most insurance plans do not cover the costs of surrogacy or adoption.

What Is Third-Party Parenting?

To understand surrogacy, it’s first helpful to learn about third-party parenting. Third-party parenting is the broad umbrella term that refers to any situation in which an aspiring parent needs assistance from another person to conceive. Some common third-party participants include sperm donors and egg donors. A gestational carrier is, similarly, a third party who helps conceive and carry a child.

How Does Implantation With a Gestational Carrier Work?

There are several different ways that a gestational carrier might become pregnant. In a classic surrogacy scenario, the carrier might provide their own egg and be inseminated with semen from the aspiring parent(s). In gestational surrogacy (more common), an egg from one of the aspiring parents is fertilized and then implanted into the gestational carrier’s uterus via IVF (in vitro fertilization). “Some people think when you use a gestational surrogate, it means that the surrogate used [their] own egg. This is not the case. In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate has no genetic link with the embryo that is transferred,” explains Berg.

What Are the Current Surrogacy Laws in the U.S.?

Surrogacy laws are not universal across the United States, so prospective parents and gestational carriers need to research their state policies. Currently, three states do not legally recognize gestational surrogacy: Nebraska, Michigan, and Louisiana. While people cannot act as gestational carriers in those three states, parents from those states can still work with gestational carriers who live in other states. In states that accommodate surrogacy, there are legal recognitions that the intended parents are the acting parents of the child.

Do Surrogacy Agencies Help You Understand Surrogacy Laws?

Surrogacy agencies provide important legal guidance to help parents navigate the quagmire of state-specific surrogacy policies. “While many of the agency tasks may seem more administrative, they play a crucial role in your success. The United States may be a surrogacy-friendly country, but there are still individual states where compensated surrogacy is not yet legal,” says Leondires. 

Can a Friend Be a Gestational Carrier for Free?

Some parents have asked their friends or loved ones to serve as gestational carriers. Many people appreciate building families or even co-parenting with a gestational carrier they already know and trust. However, a common misconception is that intended parents can save money by asking a friend to be a "free" gestational carrier. 

Intended parents will need to consider the costs of prenatal care, labor expenses, and postpartum recovery as they support their gestational carrier. Additionally, parents and gestational carriers will also need to consult a lawyer about legal questions. 

Methodology

Before ranking the best surrogacy agencies, we first researched 34 different agencies. We narrowed down our list to agencies that 1) provide clear price estimates and 2) comply with guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. After this preliminary assessment, we evaluated which agencies provide the best gestational carrier care and payment, affordability for intended parents, support services for gestational carriers and aspiring parents, and success rates.

Closeup of a human hand and a woman on the belly of a pregnant woman 6 months

Sandy AKNINE / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. UCLA Health. Infertility: Symptoms, treatment, diagnosis.

  2. American Surrogacy. What You Need to Know About Surrogacy Laws in Texas

  3. Creative Family Connections. Gestational surrogacy laws in Florida

  4. New York State Department of Health. Clinical guidelines for assisted reproductive technology service providers for screening of gestational surrogates.

  5. Belan M, Harnois-Leblanc S, Laferrère B, Baillargeon JP. Optimizing reproductive health in women with obesity and infertility. CMAJ. 2018;190(24):E742-E745. doi:10.1503/cmaj.171233

  6. Legal Professional Group: A Professional Group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Surrogacy laws by state.

By Laken Brooks
Laken Brooks (she/hers) is a freelance writer with bylines in CNN, Inside Higher Ed, Good Housekeeping, and Refinery29. She writes about accessibility, folk medicine, and technology. 

Edited by Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is an expert in health, science, sustainability, wellness, mental health, and parenting. She has written for publications including The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

Learn about our editorial process