The future for LGBTQ+ families in America looks brighter than ever before. In fact, 77 percent of LGBTQ+ millennials already have or are planning to have children, according to a 2019 study by Family Equality. Transgender survey participants are considering growing their families at the same rate as their cisgender counterparts.
Yet for LGBTQ+ people, starting or expanding a family may require unique paths to parenthood, each with their own costs to budget for.
“It’s important that LGBTQ+ families in the making are aware of the costs for different paths to parenthood so they can make a financial plan to have the family of their dreams,” says Stephen Truso, CFP®, senior vice president, Investment Product Group at U.S. Bancorp Investments.
LGBTQ family planning: 3 paths to parenthood
Among the different ways the LGBTQ+ community can build their families, processes such as adoption, assisted reproduction and surrogacy have high costs.
1. Private adoption and foster-to-adopt costs: The average cost of private adoption in the U.S. is between $30,500 and $48,500 if you go through an agency, according to Adoption.org. For those pursuing adoption independently, costs can be lower: estimates range from $25,000 to $38,000.
If you opt to adopt through your state, county or tribal child welfare system, your costs will likely be minimal, according to Adopt Us Kids. Your employer may offer benefits that help with costs associated with both private and adoption through fostering. There’s also an Adoption Tax Credit you can claim on your federal tax return of $14,300 per child.
2. Assisted reproductive technology costs: The most common assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure for LGBTQ+ parents is in vitro fertilization. While many health plans now cover IVF, those that don’t leave prospective parents looking at fees of $12,000 to $17,000 per cycle. For intended parents who need donated biological material like eggs or sperm, costs will be higher.
3. Surrogacy costs: For parents-to-be who need gestational assistance, surrogacy is the most popular option for starting a family. The estimated cost of a surrogate ranges from $100,000 to $150,000 and will vary based on the surrogacy agency and how many fertilization attempts are required to achieve a pregnancy.
Additional financial considerations for LGBTQ+ family planning
For those who are transgender or nonbinary, the start of gender-affirming treatments can have fertility implications. The choice to preserve eggs or sperm for family plans later down the road comes at a cost.
Those freezing eggs tend to bear the greatest costs. Including the hormones and additional lab work that comes with an egg-freezing cycle, you can expect to pay between $8,000 and $12,000 to freeze your eggs. And the cryobank storage fees for those frozen eggs run between $500 and $600 per year.
For those freezing sperm, costs are significantly lower. Expect to pay roughly $1,000 for collection, testing, and freezing, plus between $150 to $300 per year for storage.
Should LGBTQ+ individuals or couples be unable to use their biological material, they may opt for egg or sperm donors. Using an egg donor costs an average of $25,000, though costs can vary significantly between different donor agencies and the cost of a donor’s medical care. The average cost to use a sperm donor is roughly $1,000 per pregnancy attempt.
Unlike IVF treatments, egg and sperm freezing and egg and sperm donors are typically not covered by insurance, so planning for these costs is essential for those who think they might need them to achieve their dreams of family.
Making a financial plan for building a family
“Once you understand the costs associated with your preferred path to starting your family, it’s easier to make a plan to get there,” Truso says. “Sometimes, a plan is as simple as starting to save. Other families may want to begin by working with a financial professional to see how saving for a family might affect their other financial goals.”
If you’re getting married, you might consider asking for financial gifts toward a “family registry” instead of typical wedding gifts. It also helps to understand what benefits an employer might offer that could reduce the costs of starting a family. If LGBTQ+ family benefits are a top consideration, consider reviewing the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. Employers that rank highly on the index are more likely to offer health insurance and other benefits tailored specifically to LGBTQ+ employees.
Interested in learning more about planning your family? Visit our resource page with more information to help you get started so you can plan ahead.