IVF Surrogacy: The Essentials of Surrogacy in California

Surrogacy is an excellent family-building option for those who are struggling or unable to have children on their own. It allows all intended parents to have a genetic connection with their babies, regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. And surrogacy-friendly states like California make it easier for people to take this exciting, highly-rewarding path to parenthood.

In this article, we’ll look at the basics of completing a surrogacy journey in California, including the process, the possible costs, how to get a surrogate, and more.

Why is California a good state for surrogacy?

California is one of the best surrogacy destinations in the US for the following reasons.

1. Top IVF clinics and experts:  California is home to some of the world’s most renowned fertility specialists and clinics with easy access to the latest reproductive technology. This makes it a go-to place for anyone pursuing IVF surrogacy in the US.   

2. Clear surrogacy process and laws. The process of completing a surrogacy in California is clear and well-established. The state also has comprehensive laws that protect the rights of the surrogate mother, the resulting baby, the intended parents, as well as the egg donor (if necessary).

3. The ability to establish parental rights before delivery. California is one of those states where intended parents can establish legal rights over their babies through pre-birth orders. This parentage order acknowledges the prospective parents as the child’s legal parents and allows them to have their names included on the baby’s birth certificate. 

4. Equal protection and access for both heterosexual couples and LGBT-intended parents. 

In California, the same laws apply to everyone pursuing IVF surrogacy, regardless of gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. Intended parents can apply for pre-birth parentage orders, even if none of them is genetically related to the child.  

What is the process of surrogacy like in California?

 Here is what your surrogacy process in California may look like:

  • The first step is to choose the surrogacy professionals to partner with on your family-building journey, including a surrogacy agency, surrogacy attorney, and IVF fertility clinic.
  • Next, you will start looking for the woman who will help carry your baby. While you can also search for a gestational surrogate on your own, it’s much better to seek the help of a surrogacy agency. These agencies will help screen gestational carriers and match you with an ideal surrogate.
  • Once you have found a suitable match, a surrogacy contract will be drafted for you and the surrogate mother to sign.
  • Your surrogate mother will then complete an extensive medical screening to be sure she’s fit to embark on a surrogacy journey. 
  • Once she’s medically cleared to move ahead, she will undergo an embryo transfer procedure at the IVF clinic chosen by you and your partner.
  • A few weeks after the transfer, the surrogate mother will have a blood test to determine whether or not she is pregnant. 
  • If the results come back positive, she will carry the pregnancy to term and hand over the child to you (the intended parents) upon delivery.

How much does surrogacy cost in California?

The actual cost of having a baby through surrogacy varies based on many factors, including the location of the intended parents, their insurance coverage, the success of IVF procedures, and more. However, prospective parents can expect to pay between $90,000 and $130,000 for their gestational surrogacy in California. This cost usually covers agency fees, screening costs, legal fees, surrogate base compensation, medical procedures, and OB-GYN checkups.

A large chunk of the surrogacy costs goes to surrogacy compensation. And since California is a surrogacy-friendly state, there is a higher demand for gestational carriers in the state. So, surrogate mothers in California get paid more than in those of many other states. Other factors that can determine the surrogate pay include her location, insurance policy, level of experience as a surrogate, etc.  

In addition to base compensation, Californian surrogate mothers also receive a monthly allowance and payments for lost wages. This allowance covers things such as food, maternity clothes, transportation fees, and more.

How to find a surrogate in California?

There are two ways intended parents can find a surrogate mother in California: (i) through a surrogacy agency and (ii) without the help of an agency.

With an agency. In this case, the surrogacy experts at the agency will look for potential surrogates, screen them, and match you with a woman you are comfortable working with. The agency will also provide most (if not all) of the services you may need during the surrogacy journey. You will be asked to create an intended parent profile, which will be shown to the potential surrogates. You’ll also have the chance to review profiles of surrogate mothers available on the agency’s database. Once you find someone that you like and both of you agree to partner together, then it’s a match.

Without an agency: However, if you are pursuing an independent surrogacy, you will have to screen and select potential candidates yourself and still need a surrogacy attorney to help complete the legal aspects of the surrogacy process. It’s good to talk to your surrogacy attorney, as they may provide tips on how to find a surrogate in California or neighboring states through personal networking, word-of-mouth, or “surrogate wanted” ads. However, you need to take caution when hiring a surrogate through an online source to avoid being scammed.

Things you should keep in mind in your Surrogacy journey in California

If you are an intended parent looking to complete a surrogacy in California, there are some things you need to bear in mind before beginning the process:

Criteria for choosing a surrogate mother

While each intended parent has their own preferences when it comes to selecting a gestation surrogate, it’s important that the woman you choose meet the following requirements: 

  • Be between 21 to 41 years of age
  • Have delivered at least one baby of her own that’s she currently raising
  • Have a history of healthy pregnancies and childbirths without any complications
  • Have a BMI (body mass index) of less than 32
  • Must live in California or other surrogacy-friendly states in the US
  • Must lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Must be financially secure

Surrogacy laws in California

Gestational surrogacy is 100 % legal in California. The California courts have ruled in favor of intended parents pursuing surrogacy in the Golden State on several occasions, i.e., in the case of Johnson v. Calvert (1993) and Buzzanca v. Buzzanca (1998). However, California laws require that both parties (the hopeful parents and surrogate) have a separate attorney to represent them during the legal aspects of the surrogacy process.

Pre-birth parentage orders

A pre-birth order is a legal agreement that establishes the intended parents as the legal parents of a surrogacy baby that’s yet to be born. Once this order is granted, the hospital where the baby is delivered is legally required to include the name of the hopeful parents on the child’s birth certificate. In California, intended parents can be issued pre-birth parentage orders even if none of the partners is genetically related to the baby.


Gestational surrogacy is a life-changing option for anyone looking to start or grow their family. And California is one of the best places to pursue surrogacy in the US, thanks to an abundance of top-class fertility clinics, compassionate surrogate mothers, and surrogacy-friendly laws. However, navigating the surrogacy journey on your own can seem daunting. So, it’s best to work with a reputable agency when considering surrogacy in California.