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GWK Academy

Gay Surrogacy & IVF

The best way to learn the ins-and-outs of Gay Surrogacy is to enroll in 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 enroll in 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 offers community, inspiration, education, resources, and discounts to guide and support you throughout your surrogacy journey. 

The Surrogacy and IVF section 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 – with flexible payment options starting as low as $5.99 per month!

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 does gay surrogacy work?

Gay surrogacy allows gay men to become biological dads through “gestational surrogacy,” and GWK Academy will walk you through each step of your journey. Essentially, gestational surrogacy means the eggs of one woman are used to create embryos using the dna specimen of one or two dads. The most viable 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!

2. What is IVF in a gay surrogacy journey?

In vitro fertilization (or IVF) refers to the process of creating embryos, by fertilizing an egg with sperm outside the body in a laboratory. The embryos develop in the lab over several days. Most often, these embryos will be cryopreserved (or frozen) until it’s time to transfer them to the uterus of your surrogate to attempt pregnancy. The first baby born via IVF was in 1979. Since then, over 8 million babies have been born thanks to this breakthrough reproductive technology — mostly to those struggling with infertility, but increasingly also to LGBTQ couples and individuals hoping to have biological offspring.  

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

3. Building Your 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.

4. The role of your surrogacy agency

Think of your surrogacy agency as your team quarterback, and their job is not complete until after your newborn is home safe and sound. You will work closely with them throughout your entire journey. Here’s a list of many of the items that your surrogacy agency will manage:

  • Recruiting and screening your surrogate.
  • Providing legal guidance in-house or recommendations for outside counsel
  • Managing your escrow account for surrogate remuneration payouts and expense reimbursements.
  • Providing insurance guidance and recommendations.and  recruiting and screening your surrogate, providing legal guidance or recommendations, providing insurance recommendations, and managing managing most aspects of your journey, start to finish. Though it may not be the most exciting part of your journey, it’s among the most important — your surrogacy agency will also help ensure you’ve obtained all the appropriate insurance plans you’ll need throughout your journey. 

5. The role of your IVF doctor and clinic

A surrogacy journey is first and foremost a medical procedure. Your IVF doctor will screen you (and your partner/husband if you are coupled), your egg donor, and your surrogate; conduct the embryo transfer; and monitor early pregnancy.

6. How to find your egg donor

Selecting an egg donor is one of the most important and exciting parts of a surrogacy journey for gay men, after all, the donor will contribute to half of your child’s genetic make up.

Here we share the different options you have for finding your egg donor. (Within GWK Academy we cover the screening process your egg donor will undertake by your IVF doctor and a social worker, as well as tips for selecting your donor that’s great for your family.)

  • Fertility clinics: Many fertility clinics have egg donors exclusively available for their IVF patients. These donors may save you some money because they are already screened and approved, but clinics typically have a smaller pool of donors to choose from than other options. Experienced fertility clinics that do not maintain egg donor databases will be happy to help you find one from another source. 
  • Surrogacy agencies: In addition to matching you with a surrogate, some surrogacy agencies also have egg donor databases for you to choose from. Surrogacy agencies that don’t maintain their own database will be happy to help you find an egg donor elsewhere.
  • Egg donor agencies: These agencies focus solely on egg donors, and for that reason tend to offer much larger and more diverse donor pools than surrogacy agencies or fertility clinics. They recruit from across the nation, and they will also help intended parents find donors who meet specific or unusual donor requirements. You can expect to get an extensive background on these donors.
  • Frozen donor egg banks: These facilities offer intended parents frozen eggs that were left over from another donor’s previous egg retrieval process. This option is less expensive and does not provide the same level of background that an egg donor agency will provide.
  • Known donors: Some gay couples want their baby to be genetically related to both — and may have a family member (of the man not providing sperm) willing to donate her eggs. Other gay men or couples may have a close friend willing to serve as a known egg donor. This can cut down on costs if your donor is willing to do so for free. This arrangement has many benefits, but all details need to be thoroughly discussed and agreed upon in advance, with the help of a lawyer

7. How much does gay couple 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:

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.

7. Can HIV+ gay men become biological dads?

HIV+ gay men can become biological dads thanks to a procedure known as sperm washing. Here’s a high-level overview of how it works:

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.

Who conducts sperm washing? Your fertility clinic may conduct sperm washing in house — but many others will contract with an outside clinic that specializes in the procedure. One of the longest-established and most reputable programs is called the Special Program of Assisted Reproduction (SPAR) — a project of the Bedford Research Foundation Clinical Laboratory.

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

8. Surrogacy for Gay International Singles and Couples

Many gay single men and couples from Europe, Asia, Central and South America, South Africa, Israel, Canada, and others come to the U.S. for their surrogacy & IVF journey to take advantage of our surrogacy-friendly laws, ethical practices that come from strict agency-enforced guidelines, and the opportunity to work with the world’s top fertility clinics and agencies.

If you’re a non-US resident considering surrogacy in the US, read our in-depth blog post to learn all that you need to know to get started.

For more information, join GWK Academy.

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.
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