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LGBT parenting in the next decade

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Current procedures and legal fees will make LGBT parenting prohibitively expensive in the coming decade. For some gays it is their inherent desire to have kids -not now, but in the next decade. It may be their inherent desire, but it's not without complications.

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They hear all the time that they are too young to be worrying about something as far-off in the future as a family, but most LGBT people don't understand the costs of accomplishing LGBT parenthood.

Everyone grows up hearing kids are expensive. What LGBT people don't hear – because a lot of them were not out when they were young, and because heteronormativity dominates popular discussion of family – is that their children will probably be even more expensive than other people's kids.

Because, for them, conception and parental rights aren't free. Many of these millennials, are college educated, underemployed, and saddled with high student loan debt and an increasingly obscene cost of living. In these ways, they are hardly unique.
But, when they find themselves Googling the price of sperm while planning their monthly budget, they realize their fiscal concerns are different from those of the average millennial.

Although they are young, if they are to have children, it will be because they have financially planned for them now. The median price of artificial insemination (cost #1) with donor sperm (cost #2) hovers around $2,500, and it can take upwards of four tries (cost #3, 4, 5) for an embryo to be fertilized.

Artificial insemination is often supplemented with monthly fertility drugs (cost #6), because frozen sperm has a lower success rate for fertilization. The price of attempting biological parenthood is variable, but generally expensive.

Adoption through foster care can cost next to nothing, though it's a much less controlled process than private adoptions, which can be as affordable as $5,000, and as expensive as $50,000. Regardless, joint same-sex adoptions are not explicitly legal in the majority of US states.

All these price tags don't include the additional fees attached when they want their partner's parenthood to be legally recognized. Don't let the repeal of Doma fool you: in the state of New York, for instance, one could have a biological child through artificial insemination, and still have to pay for their partner to adopt their child, so that their parental rights can exist in the 30 other states that won't automatically recognize them.

Co-parenting or using a friend's sperm may be more economically accessible, but every option ultimately requires legal fees to ensure that they (and their partner) have parental rights. So, they are paying off their college degrees at the same time that they are suppose to be saving to start and support a family within the time-frame they would like to.

Most LGBT people would be lying if they claimed to know the ins and outs of every option for family building available to them. It's virtually impossible to master the system because there isn't a clear one in place.

After all, the concept of being a parent – not just the archetypal "special aunt or uncle" in a family structure – is a relatively new thing for LGBT people. And so many aspects of LGBT family building, down to the very legality of their desires to be parents, vary from state to state in their country.

So, there is no exact amount they should save to attempt adoption or childbirth, because there is no such thing as a straightforward path to LGBT parenthood. In this world of modern family planning, the intersection of socioeconomics and sexual orientation makes one wonder: just who in the LGBT community is eligible for parenthood?

LGBT desires of having a nuclear family are concretely rooted in their upper middle class background. While LGBT people can happily dream of biological reproduction, and feel emboldened by the growing legality of same-sex adoptions, they are also confronted with the economics of their lives.

For LGBT millennials, it's easy to feel like children will not be a financial reality – at least not without a tight budget, more loans or credit cards.

Yes, straight couples faced with infertility or people opting for single-parenthood are also confronted with alternative family planning options. But the narrative of these hetero experiences is one of struggle – an abnormality that warrants sympathy and understanding. For LGBT people, this struggle is the norm – and their reproductive narrative isn't really encountered outside their own community.

Usually, it just surfaces when their ability to parent is being called into question. They also face expenses that can't be quantified. The experience of being evaluated by a social worker and, ultimately, a judge, in order to complete the second-parent adoption of their own child, born in the context of their (hard-fought, sometimes-recognized) marriage.

It is frustrating knowing that, in their home state, they can't jointly adopt a child with their partner, means one of them might have more parental rights than the other. Then there's the aggravation of being the lesser choice among prospective adoptive families because of their orientation.

LGBT millennialhood is a strange space to occupy. It means existing in a world that is sometimes equal parts acceptance and discrimination. It also means believing they can have (and often wanting) kids, while also discovering that because of the continued discrimination, the financial feasibility of LGBT parenthood is anything but guaranteed –and may be out of reach for many prospective loving LGBT parents.



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