The Cost of Surrogacy in South Africa

It is impossible to put a price on the successful outcome of surrogacy: fulfilling your dream of having your own baby. However, there are certain costs involved in this life-changing process that has helped so many couples across the world become parents.

In South Africa, surrogacy can only be done for altruistic reasons and not for gain. However, there are significant costs involved in the process and these are borne by the commissioning parents. These costs vary quite significantly from one surrogacy agreement to another, and for numerous reasons.

In this article, we look at the various costs involved in surrogacy – and the factors that determine how much these costs can amount to in each individual case.


The cost of a surrogate mother

In South Africa, commercial surrogacy is illegal. Surrogacy in South Africa is only allowed on an altruistic basis – in other words, a surrogate mother may not be paid a fee or a monthly compensation or any kind of payment.

This ensures that there is no motivation of financial gain: a surrogate mother undertakes the surrogate journey solely for altruistic reasons: to help an infertile couple to have a child of their own.

The law is extremely clear on this and there are strict criminal sanctions for those who ignore or contravene the law by offering or accepting payments of any kind for surrogacy.

So, while there is no fee for or payment to a surrogate mother, it is widely accepted that the surrogate mother – already contributing her share – should not have to forfeit any income, incur any costs or want for decent medical care. Any loss of income should be compensated, any costs that the surrogate incurs as a result of carrying the pregnancy should be recompensed and all anticipated costs should be covered.

This means that there are extensive costs involved in a successful surrogacy, and these costs are the responsibility of the intended parents or commissioning parents, as they are called.

What costs are involved in surrogacy?

* Medical tests to confirm infertility of the commissioning parents
* Medical assessment of the health of the surrogate
* Psychological assessments of the surrogate
* Social worker assessments of the surrogate
* Legal fees related to the drafting of the Surrogate Mother Agreement
* Application for approval to the High Court
* A Surrogate Mother’s loss of earnings or income during the surrogacy journey
* All reasonable pregnancy related expenses
– all medical expenses incurred as a result of artificial fertilisation procedures,
– cost of a medical aid and hospital plan during pregnancy, birth and post-partum
– all medical expenses related to the pregnancy and birth
– life and disability insurance cover
– directly related costs such as travelling.

So, while a surrogate mother cannot be paid for carrying a child, she may be reimbursed for costs incurred. These costs are carefully regulated by law and must be stipulated in the Surrogate Motherhood Agreement with the commissioning parents. No other payments are allowed, regardless of whether they are paid in cash or in kind.

What affects the costs?

While the costs listed above generally apply to most Surrogate Motherhood Agreements, the amounts involved will vary from one agreement to another, depending on the unique circumstances of each case.

The surrogate

Considering what is involved in the surrogate journey, it is understandable that not many women are willing and eligible to carry a pregnancy for another couple.

There are only a few special women willing to go through the process for altruistic reasons, and they must also meet certain legal requirements.

The legal requirements to be a Surrogate Mother includes:

* Being in the right age group
* Resides in South Africa at the time of signing the Surrogate Motherhood agreement
* Successfully gave birth to a living child previously
* Has at least one living child
* Physical evaluation confirming good health and ability to carry a child to birth
* Psychological evaluation confirming mental and emotional stability
* Partner or spouse consents to the surrogacy

A surrogate may be a family member or a friend, or an unknown third party introduced by a fertility clinic or a surrogacy organisation. An example is the Surrogacy Advisory Group, a non-profit organisation run by a group of volunteers, who assist intended parents through the process of surrogacy.

Any loss of income the surrogate will incur during the surrogate journey may be compensated. If the surrogate mother is unemployed, or a stay-at-home mom, she can only participate if she has a spouse or partner that financially supports her, and this spouse or partner will have to be a party to the Surrogate Motherhood Agreement and subsequent High Court process.

The type of surrogacy

Traditional Surrogacy is a form of surrogacy in which the surrogate’s eggs or genetic material is used to achieve a pregnancy. It is seldom, if ever, practised now.

The most common form of surrogacy is Gestational Surrogacy, whereby the eggs and sperm are provided by the commissioning parents (or an anonymous or known donor if the commissioning parents are unable to produce eggs or sperm). During the IVF process, the eggs are fertilised with the sperm in the lab, before being placed inside the uterus of the surrogate mother.

This means that the costs of surrogacy will also include the cost of IVF fertility treatments. A cycle of IVF treatment could cost R80,000.00 and more than one cycle may be necessary before successful conception and birth.

The surrogacy agreement

Each surrogacy is different – and the costs involved and payable are in each case is ultimately determined by what has been agreed according to the Surrogate Motherhood Agreement.

This agreement between the Surrogate Mother and the Commissioning Parent(s) is a legal contract that is drawn up by a medical law attorney, who will also apply for approval from the High Court. The agreement sets out the responsibilities of each party detailing everything from expectations of the surrogate mother regarding lifestyle to the medical expenses that are covered and how many IVF attempts the parties agree to.

This legal contract is arranged privately with confirmation and authorisation being provided by the High Court.

Where to start

At Medfem, we pride ourselves on providing a thorough screening process, commitment to safety, and full disclosure of the risks and successes of surrogacy.

Our extensive experience in third-party reproduction, including surrogacy and egg donation, also means we work with reputable agencies to help you through all the medical, legal and counselling components of the process.

Our team of specialists and our psychologist will administer extensive screening of prospective egg donors and surrogates on behalf of parent-to-be, before determining eligibility, to ensure a safe and healthy outcome. Prospective surrogates undergo a comprehensive history and physical evaluation at our clinic to ensure safety for the pregnancy and surrogate. Counselling is attended as a routine part of any surrogacy arrangement with ongoing support available.

At Medfem, it is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your surrogacy journey, so you will have a fond memory of feeling empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem family.

If you would like to find out more about the surrogacy process or to meet one of our specialists, simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.

We look forward to meeting you!


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