After undergoing a double mastectomy, Giuliana’s doctor delivered the disappointing news that it was not safe for her to get pregnant until she is cancer free for 5 years. Given that Giuliana would be into her 40s by then, she and Bill considered alternative options to have a child. Lucky for them, they could afford the hefty cost of hiring a gestational carrier to carry their baby. Not everyone is so fortunate. Although the surrogate is paid approximately $30,000 for her services, the cost to the parents is in the range of $100,000 by the time medical bills and agency fees are included. At that hefty price, even professional couples with a double income struggle to afford surrogacy.
Assuming a woman can carry a child herself but just needs help getting pregnant, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is always on option. However, each cycle of IVF costs from $10,000-$15,000 on average. Although that is significantly less expensive than a gestational surrogate, if it takes several attempts to become pregnant with IVF that cost will quickly add up.
What about adoption? Not so fast. Literally, not so fast. Domestic and international adoptions can take years. And, depending on the country from which the child is adopted, the couple will need to have been married for at least 3-5 years before being eligible. Not good news to couples who waited until later in life to get married and have children. Not to mention, adoptions are also expensive - one well-known Chicago adoption agency charges fees of $30,000 for a domestic adoption and from $15,000-$40,000+ for an international adoption. Adopting a child involves taking certain risks. The child’s genetics are an unknown, as are the habits or health concerns of the mother carrying the child. Yes, it is possible for parents to have their own biological child with significant health issues. However, in the adoptive scenario, those ordinary risks are compounded by the unknown influences the child may have been exposed to in utero – cigarette smoke, alcohol, and on and on. If one is not willing to allow some form of exposure to less than ideal influences, the wait for a child can be 4 years or more. Further, prospective adoptive parents are counseled to expect that there will be some type of medical or behavioral issues, but that the particular issues and severity will be an unknown.
And, as far as domestic adoptions are concerned, those can be quite tricky to obtain. Today, adoptions are now much more open than they used to be, with the birthmother often choosing which family she wants to raise her child. Prospective parents put together marketing packets about themselves and adoptive mothers are given 10 or more packets from which to choose. Prospective parents can get their hopes up time and time again, only to not be chosen.
One in 4 couples of any age have trouble conceiving. It pays to know the options to prevent any future complications.
Here are 4 things to consider when starting a family:
1. Check the health insurance policy of both partners
Some states require infertility coverage while others do not. For a complete list, visit einsurance.com or resolve.org. Regardless of the state of residence, the couple’s insurance policies should be checked to see if there is fertility coverage and what is included. Sometimes only part of the procedure is covered and a hefty difference may still be left over. In addition, always check with the insurance carrier prior to having fertility testing or procedures, as some insurance carriers require preapproval.
2. Consider Infertility Coverage
In the event that the couple’s insurance policies do not provide infertility coverage, or provide limited coverage, consider buying it. These policies cover a variety of procedures; so before deciding what policy is right, consider the actions to take in the event of having difficulty conceiving. Intrauterine Insemination? IVF? Surrogacy? Adoption? Check to see whether a policy offers these coverages. In addition, pay attention to waiting periods, procedures included, and procedures excluded.
3. Maximize Flexible Spending Accounts
A partner’s employer may offer a Flexible Spending Account to which a couple can deposit pre-tax dollars from which out of pocket medical expenses can be reimbursed. To the extent that one has medical testing and procedures, such as IVF, that are not covered by insurance companies, one can at least help defer part of these costs by maxing out a Flex Plan. Savvy FSA users can attempt to time incurring these costs to maximize plans over a two year time frame by scheduling procedures near the end of one plan year and at the beginning of the next plan year, if timing allows.
4. Consider the Timeframe – Think Now, Not Later
Everyone knows that the older a woman gets, the more difficult it becomes to conceive. However, most do not know that the age of the man’s sperm also affects the ability to conceive. Considering the options is something best done early on, not when a couple actually agrees the time has come to have a baby. These days, couples often wait until later in life to marry and decide they want to start a family. This timetable certainly increases the risk that there will be difficulty conceiving. In addition, at the maternal age of 40 and after trying for a year, there is only a 2% chance that a couple can become pregnant on their own. That goes up to a 6% chance with Intrauterine Insemination and 12% chance with in vitro fertilization. Further, at the maternal age of 40, there is a 1 in 97 chance of having a baby with Down syndrome. The earlier one contemplates pregnancy, the less one risks having a child with birth defects and the better chance of becoming pregnant.
There are many ways to bring a baby into one's life, but it can be hard navigating the options, not to mention affording them. Let’s hope with some thoughtful planning everyone that wants to start a family can be as lucky as Bill and Giuliana Rancic. Congratulations to the new parents!
TODAY'S BOOK SUGGESTION:
When You're Not Expecting:
An Infertility Survival Guide
by Constance Hoenk Shapiro
-- Surviving the challenges of infertility
Often enduring years of heartache, couples with infertility number over 7.3 million.
Enduring the daunting difficulties of treatment is something few women are prepared for.
Based on the personal stories of 200 women determined to overcome infertility, this surprisingly upbeat survivors' guide gives the kind of hard-won wisdom essential to making it through the process.
Not only does the book detail coping strategies, it also presents tips for strengthening stressed relationships and addresses the unique needs of single women and lesbians.
An essential guide for women and couples, friends and family, and health care providers and therapists, this book offers the solace and strength needed to prevail even after years of struggle.
Written by a therapist, consultant, and public speaker dedicated to the study of infertility and its emotional impact.
For any woman or couple who feel as if they're facing infertility alone, When You're Not Expecting is a must-have book.
Paperback: 272 pages - Click to order/for more info: When You're Not Expecting
-- Start reading When You're Not Expecting on your Kindle in under a minute!
Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.
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