24 April 2011

Dollars and $ense of family building

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This was started over at Write Mind Open Heart, and it's a conversation that we all need to be aware of.  The added costs of family building when it comes to Infertility and Adoption are not a laughing manner, and neither is how we will explain these things to our children and how they will feel about them.Some of these questions I have to answer from a hypothetical perspective, because I don't know all of my answers or my journey yet.  I thought that this would be an appropriate opening post for my National Infertility Awareness Week Blogging.

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?

I hope that they're not bothered by it, and I hope to instill the belief that we loved them and wanted them so much that we went all out in the attempt to be their parents. 

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 would be honest, but try to couch it in terms that make sense to them given their age.  And try to remind them that we didn't go out to the store and buy them, we went to the doctor and paid him to help us.  So, to a 7 year old, it might be along the lines of an awful lot, and maybe a dollar figure, but something to make it real and to a child on the cusp of adulthood - I'd probably compare it to the amount it costs to buy a new car.

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 homestudy 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.?

So far I'm including all of the costs.  Medications, supplements, testing, marital counseling, cycles that didn't work, everything.  Why, because that is the cost of us building our family.  It's not just the cost of a single cycle, because we should learn from the failed ones and hopefully make the next try better.  On the other hand - I'm not counting the costs of snacks at support group meetings, or the cost f gas to drive around....  or - even - the cost of ice cream.

If two children in a family “cost” different amounts, should that have any significance?

No.  Because it's not a measure of a child, it's the measure of the amount of help that we needed to bring that child into our family.

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 have played a big role.  We really didn't want to go deeper into debt to start our family.  So we spent a year of instituting austerity measures at home to help us pay more out of pocket for our treatments.  We chose to participate in a type of shared risk plan because we knew that we couldn't afford to try again if the first attempt failed, at least not soon after, and we wanted to make sure that we would have a good chance at a family.  In many cases, We put some of our emotional heath on the back burner to our financial health, waiting put strains on our marriage, and strains on our emotions that we weren't really prepared for.  Mostly because although I'm the one who wanted to save first, I'm also the one who was impatient.

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.

No treatments were covered by our insurance, and there is nothing in our state that required that they do so.  The only way that the outside entities affected our decisions is that they made family building harder for us.

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?

Right now, I'm not comfortable with it.  Probably because I haven't traveled that much myself, and because I couldn't conceive of a way for us to go out of country for ART and keep our jobs.  Will I consider it in the future - I hope I don't have to, and I think that it's farther than Jakobe is willing to go.


  1. Those are thought provoking questions, but it never occurred to me to even think that a future child might be the least bit concerned about how much fertility treatments cost. Unless the parent or someone else brought it up in a negative way. My 14 year old has never asked anything about how much the hospital bill was when he was born. Or how much we paid in diapers, etc.

    I know that my parents spent more on me than they did my older sisters because I was 11 when both left home, so it was just me there and by that time my parents had more money, but it's never anything I've dwelt on. Even as an adult.

    So I guess I just don't see my future kids worrying about how much they cost, but if they do I think they will know by then, by my actions and words that my love for them has no correlation at all to the amount of money that was spent in creating them.

  2. "We put some of our emotional heath on the back burner to our financial health, waiting put strains on our marriage, and strains on our emotions that we weren't really prepared for."

    You are so observant with this -- there does seem to be a trade-off between our emotional health and our financial health.

    I'm so glad you are participating! I'm going to add your linky to the list if that's OK (if not, just let me know and I can delete).

  3. Your post has certainly got me thinking about this issue in more detail... it's a huge cost - financially, physically and emotionally :(( Love to you always xoxo

  4. Thanks so much for participating!

    In terms of Leigh's comment above, the questions were originally spurred by concerns that have been raised by children (or by others on their behalf) who were brought into families through adoption or 3rd party reproduction.

    Best of luck to you as you pursue IVF.


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