Sounds simple, right? NO. Not when you are gay. I can’t speak to the guy’s perspective, so I will explain the options that the ladies have.
In starting a family, as a Lesbian, everything is a choice. Sounds good, I know, but these choices have costs, add stress, bring about high emotions, and can just plain feel unfair.
ADOPTION or PREGNANCY
No matter which way you go, it is expensive. There is no jumping into bed with your partner and making it happen. There is no whoopsie, babies. No matter how hard we try.
ADOPTION is a great choice. Here are a few stats about this choice. (NOTE: All of these stats come from the annual Adoptive Families Adoption Cost Survey, most from the 2012 Adoption Guide.)
1. The average cost of adoption (2010-2011) was around $30,000.
2. The majority of domestic newborn adoptions cost between $20,000 and $40,000, while a strong majority of international adoptions cost more than $25,000.
3. U.S. foster adoption is the least expensive adoption route by a significant margin, with an average cost of less than $5,000. 35% of domestic adopters had at least one “false start”, in which adoptive parents worked with one or more birth mothers before a match that succeeded, and the majority of “false starts” cost less than $5,000.
4. Some international statistics: Average cost of an adoption from Korea is about $38,000, Ethiopia is about $28,000, China is about $29,000, and Russia is about $50,000.
There are so many kids out there that need good homes, and yet the cost involved is astounding. Also, if you go the international route, there can be added stress depending on what the laws are regarding gay rights. You could be in a situation where only one of the adoptive parents will be seen as the actual parent when you go to get your child.
The least expensive way to go is fostering to adopt, but there can be many false starts, which is an emotional roller coaster. You might love and embrace a child, have everything ready to go, a verbal commitment, and paperwork filled out, but if that parent changes his/her mind at the last second you might have to say goodbye. For many families, this happens multiple times before they are able to adopt a child, and so the struggle and emotions that you have to go through can be overwhelming.
PREGNANCY is a complicated one because there are many ways to go, and all have different costs and legal repercussions.
KNOWN DONOR OR UNKNOWN DONOR (anonymous or open)
There are three main options on how to go about actually getting pregnant.
1. Do it yourself at home.
2. IUI (Intrauterine insemination).
3. IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
Legally and financially, there are different positives and negatives to some of these combinations. Having a known donor might be beneficial in that it could give you access to the person if there are any health issues that come up in the child’s life. There can/will also be a lot of emotional fallout regarding who that person is in the child’s life and what role he will play. Remember that just because you have a plan going into the situation does not mean that what he wants won’t change once he sees the baby for the first time. If you go with a known donor and you use the IUI or IVF route, then most likely you will have to go through your doctor or through a cryobank for the handling of the sperm. If you go the do-it-at-home route, you will save yourself a lot of money, but it might be harder to get pregnant. The other issues that this brings up are the legal ones. If you go through the cryobank/doctor, it will be seen as a sperm donation and therefore, legally, the donor would have no rights to the child. If you do it at home, it is not until the child is born that the legal paperwork comes into play, and the donor would need to sign a document releasing him of his legal rights to the child. You can go through the whole pregnancy and have talked this through, but the donor can easily change his mind and refuse to sign his rights away, and will have the ability to claim the child.
Doing it at home with a known donor is significantly cheaper, but you can go with a known donor and still do it through the doctor’s office. It is just a more expensive path because most likely your doctor will require you to have him donate through a cryobank before you can get started. First, you get the sperm itself tested to make sure the sperm is up to par. Then he donates a sample to test for freezing and also to test his blood for any disease or genetic problems. After all this happens if things are still good to go, then your donor has to make his donation (the number of times depends on how much you need, depending on how many children you are planning for), and there is a 6-month waiting period from that date. What happens is that they have to retest the sperm after this waiting period to be sure he was not carrying anything that would not appear right away. Each piece of this process has an increasingly large price tag.
If you go with an unknown donor, you then have to decide if you want it to be anonymous or open, meaning your child would be able to find him once the child hits the age of 18, or not. Either way the child can access the sibling registry, and he/she will be able to search for other children that are blood relations through the donor. This is a scary thing, and in my perspective gives weight to the known donor side. Going with a known donor means that there will most likely be fewer children in the world who are blood related, and you would most likely know who those children are (and the exact number of them that there are). Once you decide if you want open or anonymous, there comes every other question in figuring out what donor to go with. What ethnic background do you want, does that matter, eye color, height, etc. The list goes on and on and on. You might think you know, but once you start searching it could all go out the window. How will you feel when you look at baby pictures of these guys? How will you feel when you read their thoughts and feelings about things? It is also an emotional and time-consuming process.
IUI vs IVF is another decision if you want to get pregnant and go through a fertility doctor. IVF is the more invasive and expensive route. Either way, being a lesbian is not a fertility problem, and therefore your insurance might not cover either procedure.
If you are doing it at home, you are going the “turkey baster” route, meaning you take the sperm, known or unknown donor, and shoot it in your partner’s vagina and hope for the best.
If you go with an IUI, this means that you go into the doctor’s office, and the doctor places the sperm directly inside the uterus to facilitate fertilization. The process increases the number of sperm that make it to the fallopian tubes and increases the chances of fertilization. Some people end up adding medication, like Clomid, to this process as well.
If you go with an IVF, the egg is fertilized by the sperm in a lab and then placed inside the woman’s uterus, which adds to the chance that the pregnancy will take. Another thing that makes this a choice that many lesbians desire that with this comes the possibility of carrying your partner’s egg. This means that one person could provide the egg and the other could carry it, which gives a nice sense of connection for both people. This is much more invasive as the eggs need to be removed before and then put back in. There is a lot to this process including medications, shots, etc.
This is a very complicated process with many choices. Once you decide if you are going with adoption or with trying to get pregnant, the real process begins.
If you thought planning the wedding was tough, buckle up because this could be a bumpy ride….