All new parents realize that their own preconceived notions about the costs associated with having a baby might be thrown out the window immediately. No amount of meticulous budgeting will prepare anyone for reality. Part of the reason is the economy: inflation has resulted in the ballooning of healthcare costs by about 70 percent from 1985 to 2011, whereas wages have stagnated over the same period.
And those are the truths for young, straight parents who are ready, willing, and able to make a baby. But what about the truths for those who don’t meet those same prerequisites?
The costs can be even higher.
Those who have fertility issues might spend an arm and a leg on IVF treatments, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars – and don’t always work. Some insurance carriers will work with prospective parents to reduce costs and increase the odds, but many others won’t. Many would-be parents must eventually balance the cost of having children with the costs of caring for them. That means getting a larger vehicle or thinking about getting a bigger house. It isn’t always possible under the circumstances.
For those who are interested in IVF, there’s an optional round of genetic testing. Even that can cost over a grand per embryo. Aside from financial drain, those committed to going this route to have children can also expect to pour dozens if not hundreds of hours into the clinic in order to remain viable.
For single parents or same-sex couples, the costs can be even steeper. When two women want to conceive together, extra steps are required to make the genetic connection for the parent whose egg is not used. Usually this is done through reciprocal IVF, which can cost another five grand. Those with tight finances might start by searching for cheaper clinics in other areas of the country, because long-distance travel is still less expensive than paying tens of thousands out of pocket.
Those who can’t even fathom the expenses of IVF might opt instead for the non-biological approaches: adoption and foster care. For LGBTQ mothers and fathers, this can still result in a nightmare. First, parents need to find an organization happy to work with the LGBTQ community (even though the laws allow same-sex parental adoption everywhere in the country, individual organizations still widely discriminate).
If the approach used is fostering, the parents need to become licensed. After that, the way can last months or years. The stepparent adoptions process can cost thousands, but it’s certainly cheaper than any other approach. Even so, foster children will sometimes be returned to biological family, which can present a different kind of toll.
The bottom line is this: becoming a parent is a big commitment for anyone, but non-traditional parents will have to do a little extra research to ensure the process remains viable.