Published on UpWise Love and Money
If you're a member of the LGBTQ+ community, you're likely aware of the unique challenges you may face when starting a family.
You and your partner have made an exciting decision to start a family and join the estimated 29% of LGBTQ adults who are raising a child under age 18.1 You might already be dreaming up names, thinking of what color to paint the nursery, and eyeing baby clothes.
On the other hand, you may also feel overwhelmed and uncertain about how prepared you are for this major milestone. We spoke to assisted reproduction attorney, Janene Oleaga, and marriage and family therapist, Saba Rooney Lurie, LMFT, for insight into the financial, emotional, and cultural circumstances that LGBTQ+ parents may face—and the steps they can take to be more prepared.
Getting ready for the road ahead
“Advances in medical technology and evolving assisted reproduction laws have increased the options available to LGBTQ+ couples and individuals hoping to grow their families,” says Oleaga. “These options include egg donation, sperm donation, gestational surrogacy, traditional surrogacy, and adoption.” However, research shows these options can be expensive.2 For example, the average cost of gestational surrogacy can be $60,000-$150,000+, donor eggs can range from $25,000-$30,000, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) can run $12,000-$15,000.2 And the potential emotional toll of these treatments can't be quantified in numbers.
Oleaga, who works with many LGBTQ+ parents, encourages her clients to meet with a reproductive endocrinologist to explore their reproductive options at the outset of their parenthood journey. You might have insurance that covers the cost of fertility treatments, but what should you do if you find out you’re not covered?
Some states have insurance mandates requiring that insurance providers cover infertility treatment.3Still, one issue LGBTQ+ parents may face is that some providers define "infertility" in a manner that can exclude certain groups, explains Oleaga.
If you don't have insurance that assists in paying for fertility treatments, it’s not the end of the road. You have options.
6 tips for family planning:
1. Start saving early. The journey to parenthood can be emotionally and financially draining, so saving early can help you feel prepared and reduce stress when or if costs pile up. Consider opening a separate savings account for family planning, and deposit a certain amount into it each month.
2. Explore fertility grants and loans. Oleaga notes that if your health insurance doesn’t cover fertility treatment, you have other options, such as applying for fertility grants and loans. A quick online search can reveal a comprehensive list of financial resources for more ideas.
3. Speak to your employer. Do you know what your parental leave benefits are for you and your partner? See how your company can support you, or bring awareness to any gaps to help pave the way for others who follow your path.
4. Stick to a budget. To reach your parenting goals, it’ll be helpful to create and adhere to a budget. While some of what you’ll experience may be out of your control, your financial decisions are within your grasp.
5. Protect your parentage. “Being on the birth certificate is not enough to establish your legal parentage,” explains Oleaga. “If you were to pass away unexpectedly without securing your legal parentage, your child may not be entitled to social security benefits or other inheritance benefits.” To solve that, “be sure to work with life insurance and estate planning professionals that understand the unique needs of LGBTQ+ parents,” urges Oleaga.
6. Address your emotions. Have honest conversations with your partner to address your thoughts and feelings, so you both feel supported. “It can be important to reserve judgment and ensure both individuals feel safe,” explains Lurie. “Keeping your shared goal of growing your family can help ground the two of you while having these discussions." And remember that you're not alone: Find others who are going through similar issues and find comfort in their support.
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