The real costs of family planning for same-sex couples, part 1


John Schneider

John Schneider

Blog author John Schneider

John Schneider has over 20 years of experience writing about money, with a focus on the queer community, being featured in Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Time and more. With his husband and business partner, he co-owns Debt Free Guys and co-hosts the Queer Money podcast, a podcast about the financial nuances of the queer community.

Published March 2, 2017|3 min read

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The 2010 U.S. Census showed that of the 594,000 same-sex couple households at that time, 115,000 had children. An estimated 123,000 same-sex couples tied the knot in the year following the 2015 decision to legalize same-sex marriage federally. Since the desire to have children is often cited as a reason to get married, it’s logical to assume the number of same-sex couples looking to have kids is on the rise.

Thanks to biology, children are never a surprise for same-sex couples. That blessing is also a curse: One-too-many drinks never leads to one-too-many babies. But the cost of having children can be staggering for same-sex couples. With the right approach, however, the costs are manageable. That’s what we’ll help you with here.

The cost of having children for queer people

Queer couples who want to adopt have their work cut out for them. Private agency adoptions can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $40,000. However, some states still prohibit same-sex couples from jointly petitioning to adopt. In these states one spouse has to adopt independently, and once the process is complete the other spouse has to file for a second adoption of the same child, which can cost between $2,000 and $3,000. The legal playing field for same-sex couples is still being smoothed out, but laws are changing quickly.

For queer couples who want biological kids the costs are higher, especially for those who can’t bear children themselves, as is always the case for gay men and occasionally for lesbian women. Surrogacy can cost between $100,000 to over $150,000 per child.

Starting a family as a queer couple is one of the biggest expenses the couple will undertake. This doesn’t include the $245,000 it costs to raise a child to the age of 18, not including college, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 estimates.

Fragmented national and international laws

While it may be frustrating, same-sex marriage only became legal across the U.S. in June of 2015 and many states have not yet updated their state constitutions and policies to accommodate all the downstream effects of legalization. It may require more time and effort to realize all the rights and responsibilities we have earned with marriage equality.

After Cathy Pareto and her wife, Karla Arguello had twins they learned that Florida hadn’t updated its laws to permit two parents of the same sex to be on their children’s birth certificates. Pareto and Arguello filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida and won, and the necessary language is now updated.

Unfortunately, lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming. They won’t be necessary to update every policy, but we need to remember that we’re still in the process of adapting to the new law.

Outside the US, there are many prohibitive and contradictory laws. Many countries don’t recognize same-sex marriages and many won’t let LGBT people adopt.

For queer people considering foreign options to grow their family or who are considering moving to another country, it’s important to understand how they’ll be affected by international laws. Popular places from which American couples adopt, such as China and Russia, prohibit queer adoptions. This means that queer couples must turn elsewhere.

Family planning options & costs for queer couples to consider

Whether biological or adopted, having kids comes with a litany of costs for same-sex couples. Here's what to expect when you're getting ready to expect:

This chart was compiled from a combination of sources, including Gay with Kids, HRC, and ConceiveAbilities.

We often try to cut corners when we endeavor on an expensive journey. To make the path to growing your family more efficient, hire a professional. In most cases, a family law attorney is sufficient. However, while the investment is usually worth it, this, too, takes time and money.Now you’ve had a chance to absorb the sticker shock of having kids as a same-sex couple. If you still want the little brats (and of course you do!), our next article in this series will help you craft a strategy to start saving for this endeavor. Stay tuned.