The decision to have children is one that is a major step in any couple’s life. And one of the things that a young family must acknowledge when planning to children is whether or not this is even financially responsible. After all, nine months after a child is born, it’s no longer just two people paying rent or a mortgage with car payments and utilities. Now there is a child who requires food, clothing, medical and dental treatment, and of course, saving for an education. In these instances, aside from the medical supervision, the hospital care to deliver a child, conceiving the child itself is “free.”
However, not everyone has the option of that “free” first step of conceiving a child. A couple in which a woman has survived cancer treatment, or has a disorder that has impaired her uterus may be at high medical risk—or even be medically incapable—of carrying a child to term. Some same-sex couples may want a child, but neither parent is capable of receiving and gestating an embryo.
This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for couples in these situations to have a child without adopting, far from it. But it does mean that the act conceiving the child is going to require a lot of additional support from the medical sciences. And that won’t be free. So what exactly are couples looking at if they decide to get medical technology to assist in this endeavor?
IVF & Its Cost
The first stage in this is conceiving a child. If natural reproductive means aren’t feasible, then a medical technique known as IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is one of the most common solutions. This is a more recent medical development based on the techniques of cultivating or manipulating biological matter outside the body itself. Cloning cells in a lab environment, for example, are done “in vitro.” However, in this case, in vitro fertilization is not about cloning or growing biological matter, but about helping the reproductive process.
Under ordinary circumstances, a fertile egg rests in a woman’s fallopian tubes, and, upon sexual intercourse, sperm eventually encounters the egg and fertilize it. The egg then anchors itself to some part of the uterus, and the embryo develops, eventually being delivered nine months later as a baby.
With in vitro fertilization, the process of a sperm encountering and fertilizing an egg take place artificially, in a medical lab. Depending on the medical circumstances, this may be done with the sperm and the egg of both parents, or it may use a donor for one or both pieces of genetic material.
In the United States, the “flat” cost of a single IVF procedure is about US$12000. There may be additional costs required, such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or additional medical treatments if there are other concerns. PGD is generally recommended if there’s a concern that one—or both—parents may have a pre-existing genetic disorder that could be passed onto the child. The PGD process “screens” for this, ensuring fertilized eggs are clear of any genetic disorders before implanting in a womb.
Surrogacy & Its Cost
If for medical or other logistical reasons, the couple is not capable of receiving the fertilized egg and carrying it to term, then surrogacy is another solution. With the surrogate motherhood solution, another woman agrees to take on this role, receiving the fertilized egg and allowing it to anchor to her womb so that it can naturally gestate and be delivered nine months later. The newborn is then united with his or her legally designated parents.
The cost of surrogate motherhood varies wildly depending on the situation. While it is highly inadvisable, it’s possible to simply put out an advertisement on the Internet—such as using social media—and hope that suitable surrogate appears. Then it’s a matter of talking to the surrogate and hoping she will agree to carry a child, with only the cost of inserting the egg, and perhaps ensuring she has proper medical support upon delivery of the child as the only costs.
For many serious, hopeful families, however, this method, despite its lower cost, is full of risks. By going to a surrogate motherhood clinic, people can undertake a carefully screened selection of eligible surrogate mothers. They can even interview the mothers, or make choices based on preferred parameters. If the surrogacy is done in a country like Georgia, where the surrogacy has been completely integrated into the legal system, they can even make sure that all administrative, bureaucratic and legal considerations are addressed.
Of course, these more comprehensive services for IVF and surrogacy will require more financing. That’s why if families choose to go this route, it’s important to talk to qualified professionals. A proper consultation can yield a cost calculation for a specific couple’s needs regarding financing, possibly even pointing to options for financing if that’s also required.