The Dollars and $ense of My Family’s Creation

Family-building efforts are limited (and sometimes thwarted) by only two things: time and money. To address the latter of these Baby Smiling and I are hosting a blog carnival called The Dollars and $ense of Family Building. At the bottom of this post you’ll see how you, too, can participate.

How did my husband and I come to the financial decisions we did when faced with infertility? First, for new readers, a brief synopsis of our path to parenthood.

We discovered a year after our marriage that things weren’t-a-happenin’ on the baby-making front. Shortly before heading to a two-year teaching stint in the Middle East, we had a diagnosis but no plans for treatment, given our upcoming upheaval.

As it turned out, we shared an apartment building in our host country with a German-trained Lebanese embryologist, as he called himself. With the supreme confidence displayed by carpet-sellers in the souk, he proclaimed, “Maalesh! We will have you pregnant insha’llah.” Which literally means, “No worries! God willing, you will have a baby!” And which actually ended up meaning, “We will poke and prod you unceremoniously and take your money and you will not end up with a baby.”

But at the time we thought we’d hit the luck jackpot because the treatment we required would cost about one-third what we thought it would in our hometown.

A few years later and back at home, we once again revisited our options.  We had very low odds of conception success unless we used all donor material. Given my absolute terror about shots and blood draws and the devastation I experienced at our one IVF failure, we found it easy to decide to spend our last financial and emotional stores not on further treatment, but on adoption.

Now to answer a few questions that are being asked in this blog hop:

How will you handle it if your child asks you, “Mom, how much did I cost?” How would you answer at age 7? At age 18?

This hasn’t happened yet, and my sense is that it won’t. It is more likely that as teenagers, my children (now 8 and 10) may one day ask, “Mom, how much did my adoption cost?”

And I will respond that we paid the agency $X thousand  for them to investigate us and make sure we would be good parents to you, and that some of the money went to helping young women who became pregnant unexpectedly and weren’t sure how to handle their situation. The agency uses the money they have to counsel these pregnant women and help them make a plan either to parent or to place. And that mothers who have babies in hospitals also pay for services of doctors and nurses. And that people aren’t bought and sold, but services can be paid for.

If either of my children were to say, “Mom, how much did I cost?” I would say, “Do you mean how much did it cost to adopt you?” and go from there.

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…?

Our decision to stop infertility treatments had less to do with finances (although finances were a big concern) than with other factors, specifically the emotional.  I barely survived that one assisted attempt that ended up in a BFN (big fat no — although it didn’t have a name in those pre-blogging days) and feared that I would not be able to endure having another. I simply did not have it in me to again go through assisted reproduction with such low odds of success. Financial reasons were in line with emotional reasons, and both pointed to No.

Have you considered having ART treatments abroad due to lower cost ? 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?

Our travel abroad was coincidental to our fertility woes. We did not deliberately go some place where treatment would be more affordable — we just happened to be there at that time. I have no idea how Dr Embryologist’s methods measured up against what CCRM had available at the time, but he talked a good game about being state-of-the-art. Even though our efforts were not fruitful, I do not now regret our efforts in Syria. I am glad we tried for two reasons: (1) I have clear hind sight and harbor no feelings of “what if” — we tried and we failed; (2) how could be regret any step that led me to my children? ART in Syria was one of those steps (a painful one) that got us to where we are. I am, ultimately, grateful.


Visit LavenderLuz for more perspectives on the Dollars and $ense of Family Building. You may add your own link to the blog hop by May 1, should you want to contribute your thoughts (a list of 7 prompt questions are provided).

13 thoughts on “The Dollars and $ense of My Family’s Creation”

  1. interesting. I wonder too about the same question , someday they will ask how much they cost. I will answer truthfully, because we have never lied about our IF in the first place. They will know they were wanted for sure, and what we did to get them into our life.

    I think this is a very important topic to bring up and talk about. As always, you have your finger on the pulse of the burning questions, the things that we might not ever think of. It’s going to give me a lot to think about.

  2. All REs, embryologists, and everyone else in the industry talk a good game. Mel’s metaphor about infertility treatment as buying a car also applies to these slick salesmen.

    It has been such a pleasure to do this project with you, Lori!

  3. I have to add that, in addition to time and money, family building efforts are also limited by age. I know that’s not part of the questions at hand, but as an almost 45 year old now endeavoring to adopt domestically and after many failed OE and DE cycles, I can attest, first hand, that age is the most limiting factor all the way around.

  4. Loved this post. It’s interesting, b/c we’re currently dealing with second child infertility and IVF. Though we were originally planning on pursuing adoption in 2012 if IVF didn’t work out in 2011, I now don’t think I have the emotional resources to spend the financial resources on adoption. But we haven’t completely shut down the option yet. I look forward to reading more in this series to make our most emotionally AND financially informed decision.

  5. I love your answer to the first question, and it’s how I could only hope to have the grace to respond.

    such a touchy subject for so many. thanks for forcing me to explore it, in writing.

    and I love this “We will poke and prod you unceremoniously and take your money…”

  6. I laughed hard at this and so did Josh: “he proclaimed, “Maalesh! We will have you pregnant insha’llah.” Which literally means, “No worries! God willing, you will have a baby!” And which actually ended up meaning, “We will poke and prod you unceremoniously and take your money and you will not end up with a baby.”

    I like how you twist how you’ll start your answer to how much it cost.

  7. Love your answer for the kids. And I agree about satisfying the “what if.” Getting through one complete IVF cycle with retrieval and transfer satisfied my “what if.” And a big YES to every step on the road bringing us closer to our children. No matter how painful the journey.

  8. Lori, your comment about not regretting any steps that led you to your children really resonates with me. I sometimes wonder “what if we hadn’t tried IVF?”–would we have gotten pregnant eventually on our own, 7 or 8 years down the road? What if we hadn’t gotten pregnant with the triplets, and then felt the awfulness of that loss? But all of those things, as horrible as they were at the time, led us to Tate. So how can I regret any of it?

    Thank you, by the way, for your sweet comment about the kiddo.

  9. Oh yeah, the pre-IVF pep talk is sooooo convincing. But I also think that unless we do imagine rainbows coming out of it, our negativity in itself will hamper the outcome.

    I have read at random and do know the heartbreak you had …I think that blog was Drama2BMama?

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