Dollars and $ense of family building

Welcome to the Dollars and $ense of Family Building, a blog carnival in which you are invited to read what others have to say and also contribute your own experience.

This project started with a debate that I facilitated for the Open Adoption Examiner about potential adoptive parents using billboards to connect with expectant parents considering adoption. One of the viewpoints came from first mother Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, who wrote:

I have too many adult adoptee friends that scoff and joke at their adoption paperwork where they see how much their folks “paid” and speak about what they “cost”. But beneath the joking, there is pain that they were looked at as a product and used in transactions.

Her comment led Baby Smiling In Back Seat to ask me some follow-up questions about the “cost” of different methods of family building. Our discussion grew into an idea to invite other bloggers to join the conversation. What does it mean that money has to change hands in order to bring a child into your family? What role can finances play in determining which path people take and how far that path goes?

Baby Smiling and I have put together a panel of adoption and infertility bloggers with a wide range of experiences. There are participants who have followed strict budgets, those who have spared no expense (and gone broke in the process), and those whose lack of funds have prevented them from pursuing their goals. There are adoptive parents who have used international, domestic, and foster routes. From the infertility side, there are participants whose treatments have been covered in part or in whole by insurance or their government, and many who have had no coverage whatsoever. There are also infertility bloggers who can speak to pursuing treatments internationally, shared risk plans, donor gametes, donor embryos, and surrogacy. In short, we have tried to include the full gamut of experiences regarding “cost.”

We have asked each participant to give some background on their own family building history and then to answer any number of the following questions (we don’t expect you to answer all questions — just the ones that grab you).

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

The discussion is now open to all of you. Please take the opportunity to write your own blog post addressing these issues and add your link below by June 21 [extended]. We ask that you direct people back here to find other links with this sentence:

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 June 21 [extended], should you want to contribute your thoughts.

Family-building may not be free, but blog hopping is, so enjoy!

16 thoughts on “Dollars and $ense of family building”

  1. I’ll answer here since I am private now…I am beyond fortunate that my husband’s insurance covered what it did. All the testing, monitoring, and meds, including injectables were covered. IVF was not, and thankfully we didn’t end up needing it. If we had needed IVF or adoption to build our family, our options would have been more limited. A dear friend who has zero insurance coverage has had a failed IVF and is tapped out at present financially.

    I have no problem telling my children the effort and money it took to conceive them- it just shows how very much we wanted them.

  2. Thank you for pulling this together and starting the conversation. I wonder why we think about the exchange of money in these terms, but we don’t feel the same way about the fact that EVERYONE cost money to bring into the world. If you’re not paying the RE or the adoption agency, you’re still paying the OB and the hospital. Every child costs at least a co-pay, and usually a lot more. Though you’re not paying for the child — you’re paying for the services, the people helping you.

  3. This is a great idea, but there’s one thing missing: what babies born to parents who had sex and got pregnant and gave birth had to pay for their babies.
    I have always known how much I “cost.” It was a family joke that my parents got a bill for $7 to cover my mother’s pregnancy and my birth because they were in the military and the health coverage was so excellent.
    People who use ART or adopt aren’t the only ones who pay money to have children. They are simply the only ones whose costs are criticized as unnatural or a matter of the market.
    Talk to a woman who went through a “natural” pregnancy and birth without health insurance. You’ll hear a story of dollars and cents there, too.

    1. Good point, Shannon. I’ve seen a few of the participating bloggers make it, too (including my own entry) — that unless you give birth in your own car on the way to the hospital, you probably pay for services to bring your child into this world.

      Sounds like you were a bargain baby!

  4. Why am I not surprised that I ended up here when I clicked on the icon on a new blog (an IRL friend) I started following? I forgot the name of your new blog and thought I was coming some place new. It was nice to see it was an old friend still talking about things that matter.

  5. I wish I could get to that point where I have to pay just a co-pay to have a child. I’m still paying off my failed IVF (not my first) from over a year ago, none of which was covered by my health insurance. We are at the point where we do not have the financial means to pursue any more avenues for family building, no matter what the avenue is. Getting pregnant the old fashion way is out for us.

    I would never tell my children how much it cost to have them. There is just too many ways that information could be taken in the wrong way.

  6. I read the contributions here and there, and now am itching to do it myself….I see that you extended your deadline…so count me in…will add myself when I write and post here…

  7. I’d like to gently point out that many adoptees will find it insensitive to hear others say that the way they came into their family is “the same” as the way a child birthed into a family did (e.g. paying to adopt is the same as paying the labor and delivery hospital bill when you give birth). This is reminiscent of the “denial of difference” model of coping with difference in adoption (see H. David Kirk’s “Shared Fate”). How we came into our adoptive families IS different than those who are biologically raised. Therefore, how money is involved is also different. Biologically raised people do not have to come to terms with why they are *here* and not *there* (there is no other *there* for a biologically-raised person) nor do they have to additionally contemplate the meaning and involvement of money therein. It is absolutely not the same.

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