The Cost of Creating a Family

By Wendy Wan Turk

When I had my first baby 5 years ago, my medical insurance covered most of the costs any my deductible was $1000 with an out-of-pocket maximum of $4000, so I knew there was a limit to how much I’d need to pay to have my child. Being a financial planner, I requested an itemized statement from my hospital to see what the cost would have been for my labor and delivery. Grand total: $20,548.95. Two and half years later, pregnant with my second child and with worse medical insurance, I paid just under $9000 to have my baby, the first of many, many expenses to having children.

But sometimes, finding out you’re pregnant isn’t actually the beginning of the baby costs. As the average age of mothers rise, especially in the Western U.S. states, more medical intervention may be necessary. Also, as same sex unions continue to increase, these households may need to find alternative ways to have children.

Freezing Eggs

Over the age of 35, a woman’s pregnancy is considered “high-risk.” By age 40, only 2 in 5 women who want to have a baby are able to do so. Because of this decline in fertility as women age, more women are opting to freeze their eggs, waiting for the perfect time to have a baby. Freezing eggs are a way to “pause” the biological clock, allowing women the option to delay childbirth, but it is certainly not a guarantee of having children.

Typically costs include hundreds to thousands of dollars in medications to stimulate egg release, $10,000 to harvest eggs, and $500 a year to store the eggs. Often women will need to undergo this process several times to collect enough viable, healthy eggs to freeze. Thawing, fertilizing, and implanting the eggs can cost an additional $5000 per treatment. Rarely are freezing eggs covered by insurance, though some companies like Apple and Facebook will cover the costs as an employee benefit. A health savings account or flexible savings account can help pay for medical costs with tax-free dollars.

In Vitro Fertilization

Of nearly 4 million live births in the U.S., nearly 68,000 were conceived through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). IVF treatment has been gaining acceptance and is becoming more medically successful but can still be cost prohibitive for many couples. The average cost of one IVF treatment in the U.S. is $17,400. This figure includes egg extraction, embryo handling, fertilization, storage, and implantation. Genetic screening may be an additional cost anywhere between $1800-$7000, the use of donor sperm may cost and extra $200-$3000, and a donor egg can be $25,000-$30,000.

For women under age 35, the success rate of IVF is approximate 53%, but for women over age 42, that success rate drops drastically to about 3.9%. Given these odds, one round of IVF may not be enough, but multiple rounds of IVF can quickly add up. Medical insurance may cover a portion of diagnostic doctors’ visits and some may cover IVF treatments. Use of a Health Savings Account or Flexible Savings Account may be options to save some tax-free money for IVF treatments, and if expenses exceed 10% of adjusted gross income, may be tax deductible.


For couples who cannot biologically have children or choose not to, adoption may be an option. For same-sex couples, this may be the best or only option. For opposite-sex married couples, about 90% of households have only biological children, with 4% having adopted children. For same-sex couples, 21% of these households have adopted children.

The lowest cost for adoption is domestic foster adoption, which averages $2750. Domestic adoptions can cost $34,000 for an independent adoption to $40,000 for an agency adoption, including agency fees, legal costs, and birth mother expenses. International adoption averages $40,000, depending on the country the baby is coming from. The additional expenses for international adoption include travel expenses, dossier authentication, child’s passport, visa, and medical exams. There are tax credits to offset some of the costs of adoption, subject to earnings limitations.


Surrogacy may be the most expensive option, typically costing anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000. In addition to the cost of in vitro fertilization, additional fees must be paid to the agency, the surrogate’s fees, maternity wardrobe, attorney’s fees, and medical costs. Extras could include multiple births, C-section, lost wages for the surrogate, and life insurance. Often there aren’t financing options to help with the cost of surrogacy, though some agencies may offer options.

If the reality of creating a family starts before pregnancy, it is important to create a plan to finance the extra costs, as well as research additional ways to save money. These may include saving and investing over a moderate time frame (say 5 years), starting a health savings account and/or flexible savings account, if available, investigating finance options (hopefully not high interest credit cards), and researching tax deductions and credits.

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.
Investment advice offered through Gerber Kawasaki Inc, a registered investment advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.
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