Gay Surrogacy & IVF

The best way to learn the ins-and-outs of Gay Surrogacy and IVF is to join the GWK Academy.

Welcome to the GWK surrogacy and IVF knowledge center for queer men, which is the path to fatherhood for gay men interested in becoming biological parents. While we have put a lot of time and effort into building out this section as a valuable resource for you, we acknowledge that the best way to learn the ins-and-outs of Gay Surrogacy and IVF is to join GWK Academy. This will give you access to our unique curriculum of more than a dozen lessons all created specifically to guide gay men like you through each step of your surrogacy journey. GWK Academy also features a growing library of “Ask the Expert” videos to answer many of the most commonly-asked questions we get, plus unlimited coaching calls, connections with mentor dads, and introductions to GWK-vetted and approved family-building partners all for just $99 USD.

Whatever your next step, you likely already have several questions before you get started, which is why we answer some of the most basic and common surrogacy and IVF related questions below.

1. How can gay men become biological parents?

Gay surrogacy journeys are typically known as a “Gestational Surrogacy,” which means the eggs of one woman are used to create embryos using the dna specimen of one or two dads. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus of a second woman who will carry and deliver the baby. In this way, the dad (or perhaps the dads, if a twin surrogacy using the dna from both) will have a biological connection to the baby, but the surrogate will not.

If this sounds confusing and complicated, don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place!

Building Your Gay Surrogacy Team

They say it takes a village to raise a child — but where gay male surrogacy is concerned, this is true just to conceive one! To help you with your surrogacy journey, you will need to pull together a team of family-building partners with specific expertise in third-party reproduction, which is the term that describes a surrogacy journey using an egg donor and a surrogate. This team will include an IVF doctor and clinic, a surrogacy agency, an egg donor agency, a social worker or therapist, a reproductive attorney and an insurance expert. It is possible to work with just one or two organizations that together offer all these services in-house, or you can select different providers from several different organizations.

It is critically important that you choose your family-building partners carefully. In addition to having in-depth expertise with a long and proven track-record of success within surrogacy and IVF, they must also be experts with third-party reproduction. Just as importantly, we strongly encourage you to work only with those organizations and individuals who share our passion for LGBTQ+ family-building. Finally, your journey will also go more smoothly if you choose family-building partners that already have great working relationships.

2. How much does surrogacy cost?

There is no getting around it…gay surrogacy is expensive! You can plan to spend somewhere between $150,000 to $200,000 or even more, depending on your unique situation and requirements.

Given the variability in surrogacy and IVF costs, it is important the professionals you work with are very transparent about the costs involved in the process.

Your surrogacy and IVF journey will consist of four primary areas of expense categories:

Surrogacy Agency fees: $35,000 - $55,000

Think of your surrogacy agency as your team quarterback, and their job is not complete until after your newborn is home safe and sound. These fees include various professional costs associated with the coordination of your journey that may include legal work, social work / mental health screening, egg donor matching, and the surrogate matching process. They will also coordinate with your hospital, and can support travel and lodging associated with the birth of your child. Reputable agencies will ensure these costs are transparent and accessible, and you should expect a timeline of when expenses are expected to be paid.

IVF clinic: $25,000 - $50,000

The main fees incurred at your fertility clinic will be those associated with your medical screening and that of your egg donor and surrogate, as well as those incurred during the embryo creation and transfer processes.

The variability in these fees are based on your particular situation and needs. A sampling of items that increase your IVF clinic-associated costs include: how many people require medical screening (if a couple, do you both want to donate semen?), whether you plan on a journey of a singleton baby or of twins, the state in which your carrier resides, your health insurance plan, your travel requirements based on where your baby will be born,, your donor and/or surrogate’s experience level, and more.

Gestational carrier and egg donor: $60,000 to $80,000

These costs include the compensation to gestational carriers and egg donors, any needed travel costs, and any contingency fees that might arise — like bedrest or a c-section. Additional costs come from legal expenses, which are charged separately from the agency fee, and range from $8,000-$10,000 if all goes well.

The location of your surrogate, donor and clinic will also impact your overall costs. Your surrogate and egg donor will go to your clinic at least twice — once for the medical screening, and again after the legal process is complete prior to transfer. Surrogates will typically need to stay in the same city as your clinic at least overnight, and maybe up to two or three days.

Egg donors are typically required to stay nearby for five to 10 days, depending on how quickly their bodies mature eggs for retrieval. If your surrogate and donor don’t live nearby your clinic, you will need to cover their travel costs and hotel stays.

Insurance: $15,000 to $30,000

You will need to make sure your surrogate has health insurance. Sometimes, a surrogate’s own insurance policy will cover her pregnancy, but this has become increasingly unlikely.

You will also need to pay for insurance for egg donors, who aren’t allowed to use their own insurance for any part of the egg donation process.

International parents may have additional insurance costs to consider, because their baby will often not be covered under their own home insurance plan. That means they will have to buy insurance for their baby or babies.

3. How Do Gay Men Afford Surrogacy?

First, we want you to know that most folks embarking on a surrogacy journey do not have all the funds needed up front to cover all their anticipated surrogacy and IVF expenses. You have several options to consider, including: looking at ways to offset some of the costs, trying to secure capital, and breaking up the journey.

Ideas to help offset some of your surrogacy costs

  • Your employer: Check in with your HR team to see if they offer any fertility-related insurance plans to cover at least some of your medical expenses. Tell them about Progyny and Carrot Fertility Benefits.
  • Friends and family: See if you can find someone within your family or friend group to donate the eggs or to volunteer to carry the baby for no fee. You’d still be responsible for covering all out-of-pocket expenses for both your donor and surrogate, but this would still save you considerably.
  • Discounts and grants: GWK Academy family-building partners all offer reduced fees or other incentives to those enrolled in GWK Academy; Men Having Babies’s GPAP (Gay Parents Assistance Program) offers similar discounts and they also offer grants to those who qualify and are selected
  • Location: If possible, find a surrogate living in the middle of the country, where the cost of living isn’t as high as it is on the east or west coasts. This will save if your surrogate requires bed rest or needs to stop working.
  • Crowd funding: To become grandparents, your parents may be more than willing to cover the costs of some of your expenses. Other relatives and friends may also welcome the chance to help you realize your dream of fatherhood.

Options for raising capital

  • Fertility Loans: There are financing options in the field that provide loans between $20,000 and $65,000 that you can pay over the course of 3 to 6 years. A new entrant into the space is Sunfish, and they help you find low interest loans of $5,000 – $100,000.
  • Home Equity Line of Credit: If you have lots of equity in your home then you may want to consider taking out a HELOC (home equity line of credit).

Breaking up your surrogacy journey: Think about splitting your surrogacy journey into two distinct parts. During the first part you will undergo everything necessary to create your healthy embryo(s), which includes the medical screening of all intended parents, egg donor and surrogate. Plan to spend about 60% of the total IVF fees to get you to this point. Once your embryos are in place, they can be kept frozen for many years while you do your best to save for the remainder of your surrogacy journey.

For more information, enroll in the GWK Academy — which breaks down ways to make your journey more affordable.

4. Can international gay men pursue surrogacy in the United States?

The United States is one of the only countries in the world where compensated gestational surrogacy is not only legal, but also highly regulated. Working with reputable surrogacy professionals will ensure your surrogacy journey is highly ethical and safe for you, your surrogate and egg donor, and your baby.

The good news is the U.S. surrogacy process doesn’t differ much for Americans pursuing surrogacy versus gay residents of other nations who wish to create their family through a U.S.A surrogacy journey. There are, however, a few important distinctions, which are listed below.

How is U.S. Surrogacy Different for International Intended Parents?

It may be obvious — but if you are pursuing surrogacy in the United States from abroad, international travel will be a factor in your journey. You can conduct the bulk of your journey remotely — as you can will undergo all required medical screenings (including your semen analysis) at a local IVF lab. But you may want to travel to the U.S. to meet your surrogate in person, for example, or to be present for specific doctor appointments.

Of course, you will need to plan to be in the States in time for the birth of your baby, and your surrogacy agency should help with the necessary arrangements. Following the birth, you will need to be present to secure your parenting rights and to obtain all legal documentation.

Insurance

Many international intended parents are confused by the insurance system in the United States (and we don’t blame them!) Like all intended dads, you will need to explore insurance options for your surrogate and egg donor. But international intended parents will also need to take out an insurance policy for your newborn baby.

Obtaining documents

All children born in the United States are automatically U.S. citizens — including those born via surrogacy. You will likely need to expedite the processing of your baby’s birth certificate, a process that can normally take several months. Once you have your birth certificate in hand, you can then petition for your baby’s U.S. passport as well.

Your home country's laws

You will need to determine the laws in your country — and what you will need to do to safely return with your baby. You will need a home country lawyer (in addition to a U.S.-based attorney) who will help guide you through any legal considerations based on your home country’s laws.

For more information, join GWK Academy to get our detailed International Surrogacy guide.

5. Can HIV+ gay men become biological dads?

Thanks to a procedure known as sperm washing, the answer is YES! Here’s what you need to know about approaching surrogacy and IVF as an HIV positive gay man.

The “sperm washing” technique has been used since the mid 1990s — and today allows gay, bi and trans men living with HIV to safely become biological dads through surrogacy and IVF, without transmitting the HIV virus on to their surrogate or baby.

Sperm washing

To conduct sperm washing, semen is first collected from the HIV positive partner. Through a separation process known as centrifugation, the sperm is removed from the seminal fluid.

Since the HIV virus is carried in the seminal fluid, and not the sperm, this allows for a vastly decreased risk of HIV transmission to either the gestational carrier in a surrogacy arrangement, or the resulting child.

Transmission risks

While professionals will never tell you there is no risk, the research is pretty clear on the subject — there have been no documented cases of transmission when sperm washing has been conducted as a part of an IVF procedure.

In fact, in 2016, Fertility and Sterility published a meta-analysis of 40 studies on the subject — and found zero transmissions of HIV following 11,585 sperm washing procedures with 4,000 women.

Interested in more information?  Partnered with some of the most well-regarded and experienced surrogacy professionals & IVF doctors in the world to create the GWK Academy to provide you with answers and support.   Click here to enroll in the GWK Academy today – let us help you in this journey step by step.  Enjoy unlimited coaching calls; a curated and streamlined Surrogacy curriculum of eBooks, videos and emails only available to Academy enrollees; and free consultations with GWK-vetted and approved family-building partners

Other FAQs

What is gay surrogacy?

Surrogacy allows gay men to have a biological connection to their child. The most common version of gay male surrogacy involves the intended dad or dad couple working with the egg of one woman to create an embryo, which another woman (called the "surrogate" or "gestational carrier") then carries to term.

What are gay surrogacy options?

Gay surrogacy options in the U.S.A. are either Gestational or Traditional. Commercial surrogacy involves paying the surrogate: altruistic surrogacy does not.

  • Gestational Surrogacy: In a gestational surrogacy arrangement, you will work with two women to create your family. The first woman will supply the eggs, which will be made into a fertilized egg, and the second woman (the surrogate) will carry the fertilized embryo to term. This means the surrogate will not be genetically related to the resulting child. This is the most common form of surrogacy practiced in the United States. 

  • Traditional Surrogacy: In this type of an arrangement, you will work with a surrogate who uses her own eggs to complete your gay surrogacy jounrey. This means she will be genetically related to the resulting child. This form of surrogacy is not practiced as often, and is illegal in some states.  

  • Commercial Surrogacy: In commercial surrogacy, a surrogate is paid by the intended parents for carrying and delivering a child for them. Commercial surrogacy is legal in most, but not all, states.

  • Altruistic Surrogacy: In altruistic surrogacy, a carrier, typically a friend or family member of the intended parent, will agree to carry a child for you for free. Altruistic surrogacy is legal in every state in the United States, and in many countries abroad.
How does gay surrogacy work?

Gay surrogacy will look a little bit different for everyone, but here are the steps you can expect in most gay male surrogacy journeys. 

  • Step 1: Hire Professionals: First, you will find and hire your LGBTQ competent surrogacy professionals.
  • Step 2: Decide Whos Sperm to Use: For a gay couple surrogacy process, you will then need yo decide on whose sperm to use. You will then need to conduct some tests on the sperm to make sure it is viable.
  • Step 3: Choose an Egg Donor and Create Embryos: Next you will select your egg donor, and your IVF clinic will help you create embryos.
  • Step 4: Match with a Surrogate: Now it’ll be time to match with a surrogate — your surrogacy agency will help you find and match with a surrogate who will be a great fit for your gay surrogacy journey.
  • Step 5: Embryo Transfer: Once your surrogate is screened and cleared, you will then transfer your embryos to your surrogate’s uterus through IVF.
  • Step 6: Pregnancy and Birth: Lastly comes your surrogate’s pregnancy — and the birth of your baby!
What is the difference between a gestational carrier vs surrogate?

The difference between a surrogate and a gestational carrier is that the surrogate’s eggs are used in the creation of the baby, so she is biologically connected to the baby. Most gay surrogacy journeys instead involve a gestational carrier, who carries the embryo created by fertilizing the egg donated by another woman in a lab, and then implanting it in the carrier to carry to term.

How do I find the best surrogacy agencies for a gay surrogacy journey?

It’s important to work with a surrogacy agency with a long track record of success and passion for helping gay, bi and trans men become dads through surrogacy. Your surrogacy agency will help you with: matching with a surrogate; securing needed insurance for your surrogate and egg donor; legal services; mental health services; and escrow management. 

To find an agency that will be the best fit for your gay surrogacy journey, be prepared to ask some questions during your intake process. Ask the agency what their success rate is like, and how long they have been in business. You will also want to ask how many gay surrogacy journeys they have helped complete — and ask to speak to previous LGBTQ clients. You will also want to know about their cost structure and price. For a list of GWK-vetted and approved surrogacy agencies, click here.

How do I find the best IVF clinics for a gay male surrogacy journey?

It’s important to work with an IVF clinic with a long track record of success and passion for helping gay, bi and trans men become dads through surrogacy. What is an IVF clinic used for? Your fertility clinic will help you: analyze your sperm; conduct recessive gene testing; conduct medical screenings of your surrogate and egg donor; create and transfer your embryos; and store any remaining embryos for future use. 

To find a fertility clinic that will be the best fit for your surrogacy journey, be prepared to ask some questions during your intake process. Ask the doctor / clinic what their success rate is like, and how long they have been in business. You will also want to ask how many gay surrogacy journeys they have helped complete — and ask to speak to previous LGBTQ clients. You will also want to know about their cost structure and price. 

Finally, you can and should also visit the SART website, the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of IVF, or assisted reproductive technology (ART).

How expensive is surrogacy for gay parents?

Surrogacy for gay parents average between $135,000 to $200,000 or more. There are four main areas that cover the costs of a gay surrogacy journey::

  • Agency fees: $35,000 - $55,000: The agency fees refer to the professional costs associated with the coordination of your journey, legal work, social work screening, and the surrogate matching process. This includes all the associated services of the journey itself. Reputable agencies will ensure these costs are transparent and accessible — including a timeline of when certain expenses are expected to be paid.
  • IVF clinic: $25,000 - $50,000: The main fees incurred at your fertility clinic will be those associated with screening your egg donor, surrogate, and you — as well as those incurred during the embryo creation and transfer processes. There is a lot of variability in costs that can occur, however, depending on your unique set of circumstances.
  • Gestational carrier and egg donor: $60,000 to $80,000: These costs include the compensation to gestational carriers and egg donors, any needed travel costs, and any contingency fees that might arise — like bedrest or a c-section. Additional costs come from legal expenses, which are charged separately from the agency fee, and range from $8,000-$10,000 if all goes well. You may also need to cover costs associated with travel and accommodations for your surrogate and egg donor.
  • Insurance: $15,000 to $30,000: You will also need to make sure both your surrogate and egg donor have insurance. Sometimes, a surrogate’s own insurance policy will cover her pregnancy, but increasingly they won’t. You will also need to pay for insurance for egg donors, who aren’t allowed to use their own insurance for any part of the egg donation process. International parents may have additional insurance costs to consider, because their baby will often not be covered under their own home insurance plan. That means they will have to buy insurance for their baby or babies.