LGBTQ+ family building

Deciding to start a family is such an exciting time. Wherever you’re at on the path to parenthood, you likely have questions. Maybe you’re wondering what family building options are available for LGBTQ+ families. Or what cost or legal considerations you need to think about. Let’s help you get answers, so you can begin or continue your parenthood journey with support and confidence.

What are my options for LGBTQ+ family building?

You have a variety of options to consider when it comes to growing your family. Get an overview of how each option works. This can help you think about which one might be right for you, whether you’re building a family on your own or with a partner.

Compare the costs of LGBTQ+ paths to parenthood

Because the options for LGBTQ+ family building tend to be more complex, they also tend to come with higher costs. Here’s an average estimate of what your options might cost — the actual cost will be unique to you and your family.


  • Cost per attempt: $250 to $4,000
  • Donor sperm, if needed: $25 to $1,500 per vial
  • Initial IVF cycle: $12,000 to $15,000
  • Medication: $1,500 to $6,000 per cycle
  • Additional cycles, if needed: $4,000 to $7,000 per cycle
  • Donor sperm, if needed: $25 to $1,500 per vial
  • Donor eggs, if needed: $25,000 to $30,000
Reciprocal IVF8
  • Initial IVF cycle: $12,000 to $15,000
  • Medication: $3,000 to $8,000 per cycle
  • Additional cycles, if needed: $4,000 to $7,000 per cycle
  • Donor sperm, if needed: $25 to $1,500 per vial
  • Entire process: $200,000 to $250,000
  • Includes all expenses and pay for your gestational carrier, plus the costs of IVF, egg and sperm donations, agency fees, legal fees and more
  • Foster-to-adopt: $2,600 or less, depending on your state
  • Private adoption: $20,000 to $45,000
  • International adoption: $35,000 to $70,000

Are there options to help make LGBTQ+ family building affordable?

Fortunately, some employers offer benefits that may help cover some of the costs of family building options like IVF and adoption. Check your benefits to see what your employer may offer. If you have a health savings account (HSA), you may be able to use those funds to cover certain expenses. Taking out a loan can also be an option.

Another option worth exploring is grants. These provide financial support to help offset the costs of having a baby. Many grants are open to both individuals and couples. Family Equality has a list of LGBTQ+ family building grant opportunities you may be able to apply for.9

What to know about LGBTQ+ family building laws

Laws, policies and legislative initiatives affecting LGBTQ+ families vary widely by state. The Movement Advancement Project provides a useful tool to help you find information about the issues that may impact your family. View state-specific nondiscrimination laws, relationship and parental recognition laws, LGBTQ youth laws and policies, and more.

Why is seeking legal advice important for LGBTQ+ family building?

For many LGBTQ+ families, one or both parents may not have a biological link to their child. In these circumstances, you’ll need to secure legal parentage. This often involves going through the adoption process.10 For example:

  • You might adopt a child through a private adoption agency or the child welfare system (foster-to-adopt)
  • If you’re blending families, you can use adoption to create legal ties between a stepparent and a child
  • If your partner had a baby using a sperm or egg donor, a second-parent adoption ensures you’re also legally recognized as a parent11

There are similar considerations for surrogacy too. That’s why it’s important to work with an attorney experienced in LGBTQ+ family law. They can help guide you through laws and all the steps needed to establish legal parentage to protect your family. To find an attorney near you, visit the LGBTQ+ Bar Association to view a directory of family law attorneys by state.12

How do I get started if I’m ready to begin building my family?

While the path to LGBTQ+ parenthood may seem overwhelming at times, there are resources to help you every step of the way. Here are some suggestions for starting your family building journey:7

  • Talk with other families. As you begin to research your family building options, consider talking with families who’ve already been through the process. You’re likely to get helpful tips and insight from someone who’s already navigated their way through LGBTQ+ family building.
  • Connect with support groups. Leaning on others going through the same experiences can be a great way to find support and build community. Family Equality offers virtual peer support groups for LGBTQ+ families that you may want to explore.
  • Find LGBTQ+ friendly providers. Feeling safe, supported and seen is essential as you begin this journey. If you’re planning on IVF or other assisted reproduction, make sure your clinic or doctor has experience working with LGBTQ+ couples and families.
  • Prioritize self-care. The family-building journey can have ups and downs. Some days may be joyful, while others may be stressful. Be kind to yourself. Making time to care for your physical well-being and mental health may help the process feel more manageable.

Need to find an LGBTQ+ friendly provider?

If you’re a UnitedHealthcare member, view our network of health care providers. Select the “LGBTQ supportive” filter to find LGBTQ+ friendly doctors.