The journey to parenthood takes many different paths, and for those in the LGBTQ+ community, these paths often require additional steps and options. Assisted reproductive technology, adoption, and foster care are some of the choices considered by 63 percent of LGBTQ+ individuals planning to become parents, according to Family Equality.
However, the financial and emotional toll of some of these options can be overwhelming.
For those in the LGBTQ+ community, the cost of parenthood can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, increasing the stress and anxiety usually involved in trying to build a family. In fact, a recent LGBTQ+ Fertility and Family Building survey of 1,000 respondents who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community found that although over half were actively seeking to build families, they had concerns about the financial burden.
The survey found:
- 77 percent expressed worry about the costs involved.
- 79 percent said they would consider leaving their current job for one offering fertility treatment and family-building benefits.
- approximately 81 percent stated they would consider taking on a second job to access these benefits.
Unfortunately, despite more mid-to-large employers offering some level of fertility coverage, restrictive policies have resulted in the LGBTQ+ community having less comprehensive coverage for fertility care compared to heterosexual peers under the same plans. This is due to a pre-certification, or required medical diagnosis of infertility (6-12 months of unprotected heterosexual intercourse), leaving limited room for same-sex couples or single parents by choice.
The potential solutions to these challenges can create additional stress.
The same LGBTQ+ Fertility and Family Building survey highlighted that respondents often resort to pulling money out of their savings (61 percent), taking out loans (27 percent), borrowing from friends or family (33 percent), or applying for grants (11 percent) to supplement limited insurance benefits. At times, the cost and mental strain can become such a hindrance that people feel prevented or delayed in their family-building journey.
If this is your concern, here are some ways to lower the stress associated with these obstacles and cover the gaps in any benefits you may have:
- Adopt an active mindset: Think of yourself as a consumer of reproductive technologies, not solely as a “patient." That puts you in an active, not passive, frame of mind to then develop a plan of action.
- Review your insurance plan: Your plan may offer at least partial coverage for some of the procedures or medications you will need to build a family. This will let you know exactly how much extra money you may need as a supplement.
- Explore financial assistance options: Some financial institutions offer loans or lines of credit designed specifically to cover the expenses associated with fertility treatments. Ask your bank and research others to find one that suits your situation. Also, grants and scholarships are available for same-sex couples and single parents. If you can’t find any through your own research, ask your medical office if they know of any.
- Consider Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding can be used to get some financial help from friends, family, and the wider community. First, share your story, explain your financial needs, and spell out the ways others can contribute. The more personal and honest you are, the more likely others will identify with your situation or be touched by it.
- Tap into LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and community organizations: Many organizations now offer resources, financial assistance, and/or legal support for family building and parental rights. They are often local, and easy to find through word of mouth, or through the local branch of a national organization like CenterLink and Equality Federation.
- Connect with support networks: Online forums, social media groups, expert panels, and in-person gatherings can give you a chance to share your story, get advice, network, and feel like you are not alone. If you need more personal support, there are specialized counseling services for individuals or couples in the LGBTQ+ community that are subsidized partially or fully.
Resources include: Family Equality, Men Having Babies, GLMA Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, and Pride Counseling offer various forms of support tailored to LGBTQ+ individuals. If the need for emotional support is immediate, reach out to the LGBTQ National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564.
Even though family building can be challenging and expensive for the LGBTQ+ community, remember that financial and emotional support is available along the way. Empower yourself if a family of your own is your dream because there are so many kinds of families to build and many resources—hopefully, more every day.
Family Equality. (2020, July 2). LGBTQ Family Building Survey - Family Equality. https://www.familyequality.org/resources/lgbtq-family-building-survey/
Progyny. (2023). The state of LGBTQ+ fertility and family building. Progyny. https://progyny.com/education/lgbtq-family-building/the-state-of-lgbtq-…