Having children is a luxury a lot of women and couples experience on a daily basis.
However, for others, it's a difficult struggle. There are many factors contributing to why couples might not be able to have the family they long for, but one of the biggest considerations is financial.
Most moms-and dads-to-be won't have insurance that covers the majority of fertility or in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. And most people don't easily have the means to start the adoption process. For these reasons, many couples come to a crossroad -- is it worth it to go into debt for in vitro or adoption?
This is a crucial decision families have to think about, because the costs to do so are far from affordable. Basic IVF costs are close to $12,000, but can be as much as $15,000 or more, depending on how many treatments.
And if you choose to go the adoption route, the average adoption in the U.S. costs between $27,000 - $28,000 and in countries overseas, it can cost as much as $58,000.
So, the question remains: is going into debt for in vitro or adoption to complete your family worth it or not?
Going Through Adoption Without Debt
Mandy Rose, who shares more about her journey on House of Rose, shares that she and her husband decided to go the adoption route because they felt this was the plan God had for them. "We prayed about it a TON and eventually took the steps to begin the adoption process. I have a heart for orphans and children in need. I feel like this child will complete our family!"
The Roses started their journey about 1.5 years ago, when they decided to adopt a child from the Philippines. Now that they've been on the waitlist for 12-18 months, they are still optimistic about the process. In the end, the entire journey will have taken almost three years and has not been without its financial struggles.
"So far we have not had to go into debt or taken out any loans... [b]ut we knew from the second we called the adoption agency on day one that adoption would not be cheap." The Roses immediately started an adoption savings fund.
"Trying to avoid debt while going through the adoption process isn't easy, but so far the expenses have not been too bad," says Mandy. They plan to incur most of the final costs once they actually receive their child. They hope by that time they'll have enough money set aside that they won't have to take out any loans.
Blindsided by Debt for Fertility Treatments
Although I don't have any children of my own, I do have eight beautiful nieces and nephews. Two of which are a twin brother and sister. But it wasn't always like this. The journey to getting pregnant with the twins was quite a heartbreaking struggle for my sister and brother-in-law.
After several years of trying to have children -- without success -- they decided to give fertility treatments a try. As their number-crunching sister, I encouraged them to pay cash for everything as they went, at least as much as they could. Starting a family puts a strain on your bank account, without having to add debt from fertility treatments or other expenses.
Sadly, my sister saw firsthand how expensive the doctors and hospitals are for people like us who make an average income.
Although we set out to pay cash for everything as went, we were blindsided by the hospital fees, doctor bills and lab fees. We paid cash for all the tests, for my doctor appointments and for the pills, so we wouldn't get into debt. However, the fertility and adoption industries know they can charge whatever they want because you can't really put a price on having children -- people will end up paying whatever it costs.
In the end, they assumed $25,000 of debt, most of which they still owe today. But was it worth it? My sister says it was. "There's not an amount we wouldn't pay or go into debt to have our twins. I'd rather file for bankruptcy or live poor, than live a debt-free or rich life without them. Our twins have literally redefined the value of our family. And I can honestly say they are priceless, and I wouldn't trade them for millions!"
After experiencing this journey of trying to have children, my sister says she's glad they struggled. Why? Because desperation makes you see things differently -- stuff most people take for granted.
Most people just get pregnant, without realizing how precious creating a life (or two!) really is. Most people don't have to pray for a baby, or to get tests and blood work done. They don't have to pay the outlandish bills and fees. But my sister and her husband did -- and they got double the blessings! "The struggle made me realize how valuable they are," she says.
The twins are very blessed because every night before my sister rocks them to bed, she tells them how much she prayed and asked God for them. She tells them that she and her husband wanted them so much they literally got on their hands and knees and begged to have them.
It's sad how this industry takes advantage of people's desperation -- especially adoption -- but that's the reality. I've seen a lot of my friends and peers struggle for years trying to get pregnant or adopt and still, nothing. I'm so thankful we have the twins in our family, and my sister agrees: "I'd do it all over again -- even if it meant going into debt."
Building a Support System to Avoid Debt for Adoption
Many women grow up with the dream of having children, whether that means biological or through adoption. To them, a child is still a child and they long to be mothers. In fact, some couples want to adopt even if they can have children naturally too.
This was the case for Vanessa, who shares her full adoption story on On Our Hearts: "When my husband and I first began dating, I knew that adoption would be something I would want to do one day, even if I could have biological children. Thus, I told him that if he wanted to date me, he had to be ok with that."
They had their first daughter in 2007, almost four years after getting married, and quickly felt they wanted to have another child through adoption. So they began the adoption process. Like Mandy and her husband, the adoption process took several years for Vanessa, and the journey was full of waiting and wondering. Financially they didn't have the money to pay for the adoption, and they tried to go through the process without incurring debt.
When you sit down and plan out how you're going to afford to add to your family, don't forget to enlist the help and support of people around you who love you. Thankfully, Vanessa had a very supportive family and friends who helped matched their adoption savings money. And along with adoption grants and a small loan, they were able to save up every penny towards their adoption.
Vanessa's advice for those considering adoption: "Don't let the fear of money hold you back from making the decision to adopt. There are so many grants out there, check with your church and your work, fundraise and ask friends and family (it's humbling, I know). But never let money be the one thing separating you from the child God has for you."
Your support system will also be able to encourage and build you up when you have a failed adoption, or hear the word no over and over again. Whether you're going through fertility or IVF treatments or taking the adoption route, the process will be hard -- financially and emotionally.
But if you have a good support system, they can cheer you on and help you complete your ultimate goal of creating the beautiful family you've always wanted.
Another thing to do while going through this is to ask questions. All of these options can be both confusing and stressful. "There is so much paperwork, so many confusing terms, a huge checklist of things to do, etc. that it can be overwhelming", says Vanessa. "Keep a line of communication open at all times with your agency and once you are matched, with your child's agency. It will help tremendously!"
Vanessa says the whole ordeal was completely worth it, and even with all the red tape, discouragement and frustration, she realized how trusting God in every area of their lives has made them a successful family unit.
Going Into Debt for In Vitro or Adoption: Is it Worth it for You?
In the end, it's a personal decision to take on debt to create the family you desire. Beyond the emotional aspects, there are quite a few financial decisions that need to be thought about and carefully planned out.
Even though taking on debt is considered a bad decision in other areas of life, for many of these families the risk has paid off. It's even helped their marriages become stronger, increased their faith and added immense value to their lives in general.
For Debora L. Griffin, who expresses herself at CraftedLocally, this fact couldn't be more true. She says, "[o]ur marriage is stronger because of children, and as humans we have had to grow and change -- all for the better. We have learned to make sacrifices for the children, we have had to face our selfishness and put it aside when the good of the children was involved."
Building the family you want isn't always easy or without financial difficulties. It's something that will have to be carefully planned out before jumping into. But I think Debora sums it up best: "A child is worth far more than a car or a home, and none of us think anything about getting into debt for those things."
A version of this post, by Carrie Smith, originally appeared on PT Money.