Managing the high costs of adoption and fertility treatments
Prospective parents tap savings, retirement and credit to fund their hopes for a child
By Karen Kroll
With the annual costs of child rearing ranging from $8,000 to $23,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it's clear that any bundle of joy is expensive. However, parents who create their families through fertility treatments or adoption can face staggering bills before their children even arrive.
"It's massive sticker shock," says Barbara Collura, executive director with RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. It is not unusual for prospective parents to tap savings, home equity lines of credit and credit cards to fund their quest to expand their family. As a result, many are left deeply in debt.
In 2009, about 57 percent of domestic newborn adoptions cost more than $20,000, reports The Adoption Guide. The cost for fertility treatments will vary, depending on the procedures used. For instance, one cycle of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) runs $12,400 on average, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
Costs rack up fast
What's more, the costs can hit quickly, says Jo Trizilia, a Dallas-based adoptive mother of a 5-month old daughter. While Trizilia was thrilled to be chosen by a birth mother just eight weeks after sending information on herself, she had to move quickly to come up with the money to cover the expenses, such as attorney and adoption facilitator fees. She dipped into savings, borrowed from family members and put about 10 percent of the costs on a credit card.
Smart financial moves to make before
you begin your journey
Before you get too far along in either the adoption process or fertility treatments, it pays to do a little research upfront. You want to make smart financial decisions from the outset because you don't know what will lie ahead, Mendall says.
When starting fertility treatment, "ask the difficult questions and believe the answers," Mendall says. While it may be disappointing to learn that a particular procedure has only a remote chance of resulting in a pregnancy, you can more intelligently decide whether it makes sense to move forward. That's particularly key if it's expensive.
If you plan to try fertility treatments and then move to adoption if the treatments aren't successful, keep in mind the costs you might face at that point. "A lot of people come to adoption after having spent $30,000 to $60,000 on infertility and then have nothing left," says Mardie Caldwell, director of Lifetime Adoption Center in Rough and Ready, Calif.
Prospective parents who turn to fertility treatments also face eye-popping price tags. Jenny and Paul Wakulat of Austin, Texas, are parents to 10-month old Madden. Jenny went through several rounds of intra-uterine insemination (IUI) and one round of IVF before becoming pregnant. Just the medication to prep one's body for an IVF treatment can run about $4,000, and payment is due upfront, Jenny says. That's along with the cost of the treatment itself.
The role of credit cards
While it's unclear just what percentage of couples use credit cards to cover adoption or fertility treatments, anecdotal evidence suggests that many do. Collura says she frequently hears the topic come up among prospective parents, along with home equity loans and personal loans from a bank. However, these last two options have become harder to get, she adds.
That's not to suggest that prospective parents who turn to credit cards take lightly the financial obligations they're assuming. In fact, most say they are acutely aware of the importance of not getting in over their heads.
Several credit cards are geared to adoption and fertility treatments. The National Adoption Foundation Credit Card works similarly to other credit cards, except that a percentage of each purchase goes back to the foundation. According to the online application, the initial rate is 0 percent for six billing cycles, and then the rate rises to between 12 percent and 20 percent.
CareCredit is a credit card made exclusively for health care services, including fertility treatments. Some payment plans offer no interest for up to 24 months. CareCredit is a division of GE Money.
The overall price tag for the Wakulats' fertility treatments hit about $30,000, almost all of which went onto the couple's credit cards. However, the couple has diligently whittled the balance down to $9,500, and they plan to pay that off within the year. "I'm a CPA and very in tune to our financial situation," Jenny says.
Prospective parents can take several steps to manage the financial costs of fertility treatments and adoption:
|Fertility treatment cost savings suggestions|
|Adoption cost savings suggestions|
Updated: May 27, 2010
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