Like any pregnancy, there is a financial element to every surrogacy arrangement. With ‘expenses’ so hard to define, at Brilliant Beginnings our goal is to help our surrogates be clear and to manage the finances as smoothly and easily as possible.
A surrogate should never be out of pocket for her and her family’s commitment to surrogacy. The tricky part lies in working out in advance what the costs will be, navigating through these discussions sensitively with everyone involved and ensuring that what is agreed meets the needs of the law. As the relationship develops and a pregnancy is established, things along the way will change and evolve. Unexpected expenses can crop up which need to be addressed. Even once the baby is born, there may be other costs incurred through no fault of anyone’s.
Intended parents may also want to offer some acknowledgment to the surrogate, by giving something which benefits her and her family for all they have done for them. That might be a gift or token of appreciation, a payment for a holiday or by agreeing an overall figure which comfortably covers expenses and includes a top up to acknowledge the surrogate’s inconvenience and discomfort. This is a common within altruistic UK surrogacy, and is perfectly legal.
For the adults involved in a surrogacy (and any organisation or agency supporting them), it is important to work out what the likely expenses will be and to establish a sensible budget and plan. It is important to plan for the worst cases where costs could spiral and to make sure that everyone is prepared as well as possible.
Expenses are unique to every team. Brilliant Beginnings understands that the approach to finances is never one size fits all and that understanding the individuality of our teams and their expenses is at the core of our matching process. We know that the law around expenses (see here) and the way people address finances in practice is confusing and often disconcerting. Even the Law Commission, in its recent consultation document about surrogacy law reform, reflects the many divergent views and the flexibility around payments in practice. It is yet to come to a conclusion about how surrogacy expenses should be managed that would help steer the majority of teams.
Our approach at Brilliant Beginnings is to ensure surrogates are well armed to make clear informed decisions themselves, and to help our teams record what they have agreed clearly and honestly. We work with our surrogates to help them understand what their basic expenses are likely to be (including maternity clothes, additional vitamins, loss of earnings for them or their partner, additional childcare or help with housework, travel to clinic and for antenatal appointments). Then we also explore possible ‘worst case’ scenarios and any additional expenses (such as a family holiday to regroup after the surrogacy, acupuncture during pregnancy or other holistic remedies) that might be relevant, as well as any acknowledgment element.
We also discuss what kind of approach to payments the surrogate feels comfortable with in practice. Many like to agree things in advance so that the intended parents can make a regular payment once the pregnancy is established without anyone having to discuss the finances again unless something really exceptional happens. But some surrogates prefer to claim expenses as they goes along via a shared bank account or credit card. The amounts, instalment periods and categories of expenses which will be paid are set out in the team’s surrogacy agreement which everyone works through together with help from the BB team. Whatever is ultimately agreed, we are on hand to help deal with the unexpected items which arise and will always step in to make sure that these are picked up as appropriate.
We typically see expenses encompassing some small gesture of acknowledgment for the surrogate and her family but there is no requirement for any surrogate to incorporate that. Our intended parents often want to be able to offer this but not every surrogate takes this up. Our surrogates’ expenses range from very simple receipted expenses to a lump sum including an amount to acknowledge her discomfort and inconvenience. All our surrogates get independent legal advice so they are clear about what the law allows. We stringently insure that each and every surrogate has both implications counselling and undergoes a psychological evaluation to explore her situation and motivations and make sure that money or gifts are never an inducement. All our surrogates are motivated by their love of family and their ability to help.
Brilliant Beginnings understands that money is always tricky and never are we so acutely aware of that than when it comes to helping a baby come into the world. By open communication and transparency of what expenses and costs are incurred, we can ensure that the awkwardness is minimised and everyone can focus on their positive relationship and the amazing thing they have come together to achieve.