Beyond Adoption: The Costs of Expanding Your Family

At the beginning of the month, I covered the costs and important things to know about adopting a child. However, I received additional questions about costs related to starting your family in other ways. In particular, expanding through methods like fertility treatments and surrogacy.

Today I’ll cover what these methods entail and the costs of each process to give a full prospective on what may be right for you.


Fertility Treatments

Many types of fertility treatments exist for parents trying to start a family. The costs range anywhere from $500 to $30,000. In addition, the cost vary depending on where you live.

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

When most people think of fertility treatments for same-sex couples, in vitro fertilization (IFV) comes to mind.  That’s the process by which eggs are extracted and fertilized with sperm in a lab. Once the embryo develops, it’s implanted into the desired parent’s uterus.

This can often be a multi-step process and according to the success rate of becoming pregnant varies by age:

  • 41% for women under age 35
  • 32% for women ages 35 to 37
  • 23%  for women ages 38 to 40

The overall costs can be $10,000 – $13,000 including medications, ultrasounds, blood work and procedures.

With IVF, there are other specialty procedures that you can pursue to try to increase your success rate:

  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), where an embryologist takes a single, health-looking sperm and injects it into the egg.  This differs from regular IVF, where the sperm and egg are placed in a dish and the eggs is fertilized “naturally.”  This is usually an additional cost of $1,000 to $2,000.
  • Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT) where the embryo is inserted into the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. The cost of this procedure is $8,000 to $13,000 for a cycle.

Artificial Insemination (also known as Intrauterine insemination or IUI)

This procedure involves sperm being deposited directly into the uterus through a catheter. The receiving spouse may also take fertility drugs to increase the chances of fertilization.

The success rate for this type of procedure also depends on a woman’s age. In addition, the quality of sperm can help with success. In general, there’s a 15 to 20% chance of conception per cycle, with a 60 to 70 percent chance of pregnancy after 6 cycles. On average the cost is $865 per cycle.


Donor Sperm, Donor Eggs and Donor Embryos

For same-sex couples, the IVF or IUI process usually involves the use of another person’s sperm, egg or fetus.  For example, two men will need fertilization of a donor egg with one of their sperm or lesbians may fertilize their egg with a donor sperm. You can also implant another couple’s unused embryo that the stored during a prior IVF period.

These donor features are additional costs. For sperm, it’s $300 to $500. For an egg it can range from $25,000 to $30,000 (which includes IVF and compensation for the donor), and it’s approximately the same – $25,000 to $30,000 – for donor embryos.

The success rates for donor sperm are up to 80 percent after 6 cycles, while the success rate for donor eggs is 55 percent with fresh eggs (34 percent for frozen) and approximately the same for fresh and frozen embryos.



In addition to IVF and IUI, some situations call for another person to carry the baby to term, known as surrogacy.

This can happen through traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate mother’s egg is fertilized with the intended father’s sperm. Or it can happen through gestational surrogacy, where the carrier doesn’t donate her own egg and is not biologically related to the child.

Traditional surrogacy, done through IVF of IUI, is cheaper but still runs $60,000 – $80,000, with costs including fees to the carrier and social workers; legal, medical and travel costs; and incidentals like means and wardrobe.

Because of the need for sperm, egg and/or a uterus, gestational surrogacy can cost $100,000 – $150,000.

The fee is reduced if you are donating your own eggs or fertilized embryos.

In either case, most people use an agency to help facilitate the process. While you may save $25,000 – $30,000 by not using an agency, you might incur much more hassle, time and stress in the long run.


Covering the Costs

Most fertility and surrogacy costs are not covered by insurance. So you’re going to need to find a way to fund the process. This is why it’s so important to have a good handle on your current cash flow and net worth.  If you don’t have enough current savings, agencies may provide financing.

In addition, you may be aware that you can take a tax deduction for your medical expenses for IVF and IUI procedures if you take itemized deductions on your tax return. You can include medical expenses for “procedures to overcome an inability to have children”:

  • Procedures such as in vitro fertilization (including temporary storage of eggs or sperm).
  • Surgery, including an operation to reverse prior surgery that prevented the person operated on from having children.”

However, this rule has been applied differently to some same-sex couples.

In December of 2015, Stetson University law professor Joseph F. Morrisey sued the IRS in federal court, after an examiner denied the tax deductions for medical expenses associated with his attempts to have a child with his partner. (He and his partner were not allowed to adopt in Florida at the time.)  Morrisey claims to have paid over $100,000 for seven IVF procedures, three surrogates, three egg donors and two clinics.

The examiner denied the expenses claiming that they weren’t attributable to the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or his dependents, nor were they necessary to treat a medical condition. Morrisey argued that it was the only way he and his partner could have a child at the time given that they were barred by Florida statute from adopting at the time. The examiner answered, “being gay is a choice,” and Morrissey could have had a child by more traditional methods.

The lawsuit is still pending.


Overall, as we have seen before, having a child can be expensive. Make sure you are well aware of all costs involved when making your decision.