5 things to consider when you’re LGBTQ+ and starting a family

Have you been thinking about starting a family — on your own or with your partner? If you want kids and you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+), you’re part of a growing community. The number of LGBTQ+ families has increased over time and so have the options for becoming a parent.1

Here’s how to take that first step on your journey to parenthood — and what to keep in mind as you go through it.

1. Consider all the options for expanding your family

Starting a family won’t look the same for everyone, and you may be wondering where to start. The best thing to do is research your options, suggests Rebecca Willman, a vice president of community impact and programs at Family Equality, a New York–based national advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ families.

“In the beginning, it’s really helpful to do an overview, so you can have some seeds planted about what the possibilities may look like, in case the path that you start down doesn’t turn out as expected,” Willman says.

For example, you may think you want to adopt, only to find that your state’s laws are restrictive or vague when it comes to LGBTQ+ parents.2 Family Equality offers a state-by-state adoption guide to help prospective parents understand the often complex and confusing adoption process.

“You may also find that the path to using assisted reproductive technology is going to look different than originally planned because of a previously unknown health condition,” adds Willman.

Be prepared to change your mind. “Starting on one path doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the path you’re going to end up on,” says Willman. And that’s all right.

2. Budget for growing your family

The costs of becoming an LGBTQ+ parent may be high. This is because LGBTQ+ families typically need help starting a family, whether through assisted reproduction (like in vitro fertilization (IVF)), surrogacy or adoption. Fortunately, you probably won’t have to pay all the expenses up front, notes Willman. And insurance may cover some of them.

That’s why being aware of the costs, and planning for them, is important. For example:

  • The average IVF cycle in the United States costs approximately $15,000. In some cases, multiple IVF cycles may be needed.3
  • Adoptions can run between $20,000 and $45,000 if you go through a private agency.4 And there may be additional costs like legal fees and travel.
  • Surrogacy can cost between $200,000 to $250,000 for the entire process. This includes all expenses and pay for your surrogate, plus the costs of IVF, egg and/or sperm donations, agency fees, legal fees and more.5

Try to remember that all these expenses are going to be spaced out typically over the course of maybe a year or more, explains Willman. “So, think about budgeting in a way that allows you to continue to be on your path,” she says.

3. Look into your health care coverage

Insurance may help you pay for some costs. But not always. So, get clear information from your health insurance provider by asking specific questions about the benefits, Willman explains.

If you have employer-based coverage and something isn’t covered, try talking to the benefits manager, suggests Willman. “It may be that they never thought to consider the benefit,” she says. “We have seen folks who have been willing to go to human resources and we’ve seen policies change. So, if you’re feeling comfortable, start there.”

4. Get creative about funding as you grow your family

If your health insurance company doesn’t cover all the medical expenses, then look for outside help. Some resources to explore include:

Try talking to your health care provider or, if you’re thinking about adopting, the adoption agency, suggests Willman. “Health care providers and adoption agencies are accustomed to hearing about the financial challenges prospective parents have about family formation. Don’t hesitate to ask about any in-house grants they have or funding paths they are aware of,” she adds.

5. Find people to support you on your journey

A support group can be helpful as you’re working through the family-forming process. Other prospective LGBTQ+ parents are likely going through many of the same issues you are. Talking to them and forming connections may help you feel part of a larger community. And you can pick up helpful advice too.

Many adoption agencies and fertility clinics have support groups. Family Equality has a number of peer support spaces, including virtual ones.

Remember, it’s okay to lean on your friends and other LGBTQ+ parents in your life for emotional support and advice. They’ll probably be happy to help you on your journey to parenthood — and well beyond the day you bring your child home.

Already a member?

Sign in or register on your plan website to see personalized benefit details and resources to help you manage your plan and health.