Navigating finances as new parents is challenging—no matter your gender or sexual orientation. But as financially challenging as heterosexual parenthood is, many couples are presented with a blueprint to follow—through the examples of their parents, public discourse, even role models in the media and pop culture. New LGBTQ+ parents, on the other hand—even if their family members are supportive—are faced with unique financial challenges.
The process of LGBTQ+ parenthood is notoriously expensive, and cost concerns can steer many contemplating couples away from the commitment entirely. A 2018 report by NBC stated that while there are more options than ever for potential LGBTQ+ parenthood, for many queer couples, parenting means debt. Whether you're choosing surrogacy or adoption or artificial insemination, each option comes with a cost.
We spoke with LGBTQ+ couples about the financial advice they wish they had received growing up with their own (heterosexual) parents—and what they've learned about the costs of queer parenting as they've become parents themselves. Their top tips? Lean into the process, engage with the community, and do research—instead of holding onto a fear that parenthood is too expensive.
Do your research.
While there are many obstacles for LGBTQ+ couples considering parenthood, there are more options and tools than ever before, and that includes the abundant resources on the good old internet. The Ryans, a lesbian couple based in Washington, D.C., tell Parents that they're grateful they didn't let people scare them away from becoming moms simply because of stigma or fear of finances. The mothers of two boys wanted to go about the process as naturally as possible, and they credit their own internet research with finding ways to make their dreams of parenthood a reality.
During their year-long process of online research, the Ryans discovered that they did not need to conduct the entire insemination and birth process through a hospital—and so were able to significantly reduce costs. They consulted with doctors in their region about their research and plans to conceive and were guided by medical professionals through appointments, opting to undergo the rest of the process in the comfort of their own home.
The couple consulted with a donor and underwent a process of self-insemination, and before they knew it, they were having a baby. They found this method extremely cost efficient, and they advise other LGBTQ+ people who are comfortable with and able to self-inseminate to conduct their own research, along with the help of medical practitioners.
While costs of LGBTQ+ parenthood can vary dramatically according to the method of choice, gathering as much research as possible may offer unique solutions to financial challenges.
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There is money in the world—even if it isn't in your pocket (yet).
The high cost of parenthood is a deterrent that prevents many LGBTQ+ couples from ever even attempting the process; plus, the dominant media coverage of how expensive parenting is does not make it seem any more hopeful.
New York-based queer couple Dante and Jordan tell Parents that they stumbled upon a number of national and international funds and grants that support LGBTQ+ parents. The couple first heard of LGBTQ+ family building grants through friends who received funds themselves and were astounded at the number of organizations that existed.
"A lot of young people are starting to have a social consciousness and want to give back to communities that need funds," Dante says. "There are so many organizations to help parents these days, at every stage of parenthood." He and Jordan add that there are many community networks and mutual aid funds that are specific to LGBTQ+ parents, whether they need financial support or community support.
For couples who would prefer not to involve community networks, organizations, or state funding, the couple suggests considering a loan as a way to make family-building procedures possible—since it will be paid off in small installments over a long period, as opposed to one large bill as an upfront expense.
"Thinking about the total sum makes the vision of having a family daunting for so many people. I know people who've taken out loans and just manage it as a monthly expense, in the same way they do with other bills," Dante says.
Money is not the most important thing.
Based in Washington, D.C., Ricardo Cooper (aka Rico) is a gay father of two twin daughters. His piece of financial advice for parents in the LGBTQ+ community? Money can't buy love.
"What I will say to LGBT parents who may have some financial struggles," he tells Parents, "is always keep in mind that money is not the most important thing. It's not about the material things you can provide for the child; it's about the love that you provide for them and the values you instill in them."
"You can be one of the poorest people, but also one of the richest in love and in spirit, and that's what really matters," he adds. "And always keep going. If you're not happy with where you are, do some things that will make you happy."