Monday, April 18, 2011

Dollars and $ense of Family Building

My background:

My husband, AJ and I did assisted reproductive technology procedures including 3 in vitro fertilization cycles without a viable pregnancy. We paid nearly $20,000 out of pocket for medical expenses. After 3 1/2 year of pursuing pregnancy we decided that parenthood was our ultimate goal and began our quest to become adoptive parents.

We chose international adoption through S. Korea. The total expense for the adoption of our son, Min was roughly $25,000. We are now expecting another baby boy from Korea and the cost of his adoption is the same.

Taking my trusty calculator out it looks like our road to parenthood cost nearly $70,000. We won't be putting that addition on our house, but we are happy nonetheless.


1. Consider your now or future children as adults, and consider the fact that you had to spend money to either conceive them or make them part of your family. What effect do you think the latter will have on the former one day? What, do you think, your grown children might feel about the funds it took to create your family?

AJ and I don't plan on talking much about the money it took to become parents. It does not really matter to us at this point. Other families face different hardships and obstacles that include finances. I just explained to my mother today that we will probably not be paying for our children's college education because of the money we had to spend so early on in our marriage. As mentioned above we will also have to put off plans to expand our home due to personal loans and debt incurred from ivf and adoption. We will do what we can to help pay for college, but that is probably the biggest disappointment our children may face. It may be hard for them to digest that the cost of the adoption process is one of the reasons for their needing scholarships or student loans.

2. How did/would you handle it if your child asks you, "Mom, how much did I cost?" How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

I dread this question because it will stem from questions and comments made to my kids by other people. My answer will be simple. All children cost money. Pregnancy and giving birth cost money because the parents have to pay their doctors. Adoption includes paying an agency and foster mother.

At age 18 I would be a little more honest about the hurdles of paying for infertility and adoption but that we wanted to be parents so badly that money was not going to stand in our way. Again, all children cost money. It is expensive to have and raise children. We made a conscious decision to take on all the responsibilities of parenthood.

3. When calculating the costs of your family building, what do you include? The direct costs are easy (such as RE fees for a cycle or home study fees), but what about fees that didn't directly lead to your child's existence in your life, such as cycles that didn't work, adoption outreach avenues that didn't work, failed adoptions, avenues that were explored (and that cost something) but not pursued, etc?

Our expenses are pretty easy to quantify because some of our procedures were covered by insurance. We did not have a failed adoption.

4. If two children in a family "cost" different amounts, should that have any significance?

Absolutely not. My parents had no fertility issues and had my brother and I. However, my brother had many health issues in his early years of life. One could say that all those expenses made him a more costly kid than me. Just because infertiles pay for costs of bringing a child into their home does not mean that the issue should be polarized.

5. To what extent have finances determined the family-building decisions you have made? How have you able to balance financial considerations against other factors such as medical, ethical, emotional...?

Finances helped determine our path to parenthood in a couple of ways. After 7 iui's and 3 failed ivf's my body was done in. We made a medical and health decision not to pursue ART any longer. When considering adoption, there were some programs we eliminated right away because the cost was too high.

Upon considering having a second child, we did not want to purse medical intervention because we did not to spend money on something that was not a guarantee. If ivf was covered by insurance, we may have tried that route again. However, money was not the only reason that we chose to adopt again. Neither AJ or I felt comfortable going back to our RE because of the toll it took on my body.

6. Has institutional and governmental support for certain family-building paths impacted your choices? For example, ART being covered by insurance, tax deductions for adoption expenses, etc.

I answered most of this question above. But, we would have adopted even without the government tax credit

7. Have you considered having ART treatments abroad, either due to lower cost or due to certain methods being unavailable or illegal in your own country? In your decision-making, how did you balance the financial savings against issues like the unknowns of the country, perhaps not speaking the language, and medical practices that may differ from those of your home country? If you did travel abroad for treatments, what was your experience? Would you do it again?

We never considered these options.

Visit Write Mind Open Heart for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building and to add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts.


  1. Thanks so much for participating! I am so glad to be able to include your perspective as a mother through international adoption and also as someone who has created a non-profit to deal with these very issues.

    I was particularly interested to read your answer to Question #2 since, unlike children who are the same race as their parents, it's obvious to random people he'll encounter that your son was adopted. Unfortunately it's a question that you probably will get from him, sooner rather than later, spurred by intrusive comments or questions from other people about his "cost."

  2. Great post, E. I have been really fascinated by all the different perspectives and answers to these questions.

  3. Great post! I loved that you talked about the later-on impact of costly infertility treatments and adoption fees. Congrats on your second child!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, E. I especially like your approach to #4.

  5. I hear you on your response to #1. I often wondered how we would ever pay for college, given the insane rise in tuition costs since I was a student, on top of the savings that have since been spent.

  6. Love the post....

    Answerin' #2 would be so typical really...