Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West have welcomed a fourth child after the couple’s surrogate gave birth to a baby boy, Kardashian said in a tweet.
This is the second time the couple has used a surrogate. Before the birth of their third child, Kardashian said on her E! reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” that a surrogate was “the only other option” after a doctor told her it would be medically dangerous for her to carry another child. The new son will join sisters North, 5, Chicago, 15 months, and brother Saint, 3.
The price tag for the previous surrogacy was upwards of $100,000, including a $45,000 fee paid directly to the surrogate and a deposit to the surrogacy agency of nearly $70,000, according to TMZ.
Celebrities aren’t the only ones who pay those high prices. That’s actually broadly in line with the $98,000 to $140,000 national average, according to surrogacy agency ConceiveAbilities. The medication alone used for in vitro fertilization costs thousands of dollars, and fees for a full surrogacy including childbirth costs can be more than $50,000.
Affordability depends largely on location, said Stephanie Caballero, founder of Surrogacy Law Center in Southern California, which specializes in reproductive law. Illinois is one of 15 states that mandates insurance coverage for infertility, which can save couples thousands of dollars on IVF, embryo transfer, and drugs. “You can save $20,000 just from moving to another state,” said Caballero, who hired surrogates herself for her two children. “I’ve considered it, and many people have done it.”
Couples looking to hire a surrogate generally contact an agency and find a match to carry their child. There are two kinds of surrogates: “traditional surrogacy,” wherein a woman is artificially inseminated with the client’s sperm and delivers a biological baby for them to raise, or “gestational surrogacy,” where an embryo from a mother and father is implanted using in vitro fertilization into the uterus of the surrogate. The gestational surrogate then carries the child, who has no genetic ties to her, to birth. Kardashian planned to use this form of surrogacy, she said on her show.
Kardashian said on Twitter TWTR, -3.34% that the new baby looks like a “twin” of his sister Chicago.
Surrogacy contracts include a fee paid to the surrogate directly and often higher fees for additional embryos carried in the case of multiples. Contracts can contain specific stipulations regarding diet and behavior: In Kardashian’s case, TMZ reported the surrogate for her third child could not smoke, drink or do drugs during the pregnancy and had to refrain from going in hot tubs, handling cat litter, and applying hair dye. She wasn’t allowed to eat raw fish or drink more than one caffeinated beverage a day, TMZ said.
Often parents will pay for clothing and other pregnancy-related costs for a surrogate, Caballero said, though not everyone has Kardashian’s millions. “For the average person, is it easy? No,” she said. “But can it be done? Yes.”
Hundreds of would-be parents have created pages on GoFundMe for such procedures and even held bake sales to raise funds for a family. In her own case, Caballero said, all disposable income between her and her husband went towards a future pregnancy for years. “People will do anything when they can’t carry to hire a surrogate,” she said. “You get to the point where you just start seeing babies everywhere.”
Sometimes, a relative will volunteer to carry the child, which can significantly lower costs. Kardashian considered that option for her third child. While Kardashian has more resources than most aspiring parents, she could experience problems the average couple exploring surrogacy do not, including the prying eyes of the paparazzi. The surrogate who actress Sarah Jessica Parker hired to carry her twins in 2009 was identified by the media and hounded for photos and information. Police in the surrogate’s town were investigated for breaking into her home for information to sell to tabloids.
Surrogacy companies require women to undergo a psychological screening and legal evaluation before agreeing to the process and getting matched with a couple, said Jane Frederick, a board-certified reproductive endocrinologist and fertility expert in Orange County, Calif. In most places, the law is on the side of the intended parent, not the surrogate, and cases of a surrogate trying to keep the baby are rare. While some surrogates are primarily seeking extra income, many of them simply enjoy pregnancy.
“Their thoughts are, ‘I had such an easy pregnancy and want to help someone trying to conceive who has had difficulty,’” she said. “In their mind it’s something that comes easily.”
This story was originally published on June 28, 2017 and updated on May 10, 2019.