Financial planning very quickly becomes front and center in the conversation when we start to think of our lives, and our families, growing. Whether through adoption, surrogacy and IVF, fostering or co-parenting — you’ll want to have a solid financial plan and strategy in place.
Several of the options available to gay, bi and trans men hoping to become fathers — domestic infant adoption and surrogacy in particular — are costly. Surrogacy costs gay men an average of $135,000-$200,000 or more, while adopting an infant in the United States can cost upwards of $50,000. Though with both of these options, you can break your journey into pieces, and pay them in more manageable segments.
Many gay men suffer some sticker shock learning these prices when they first start researching their options — you may have just now as you read that! — but you don’t need to be a millionaire to make fatherhood through adoption or surrogacy a reality. Smart, intentional financial planning can get you there.
So where to begin?
1. Get Organized
Half the battle is getting your ducks in a row and being specific and realistic about how much money you are going to need. This will be based on which path to fatherhood you pursue. (For more on this, explore GWK's Cost of Paths to Fatherhood)
2. Explore Options
Where is this money going to come from and how much can I realistically save or access? (Put a pin in that, we will look at 6 options in a moment.)
3. Set Your Timeline
The further you plan ahead will obviously make saving more manageable, but did you know that you can use savings methods connected to the market to get some potential growth on top of what you are putting away? Your timeline will dictate whether this is appropriate, and you should work with a professional (like me) to help navigate this. The longer your timeline the better.
Ok. Take the pin back out of the question of options as to where money can come from.
4. Earned income
When saving from this bucket it is important to align where you are putting the cash to when you potentially need to use it on your path to fatherhood. If we only have 2-3 years or less, these dollars should probably be saved somewhere safe and liquid- we want to avoid the risk of having LESS money in the event of a down market when you need to take the dollars out. If we are looking at a 3-10 year time horizon, we might decide that something with some growth would be best in addition. That said, these are very individualized decisions, so again, always work with a professional to balance your risk tolerance and the decisions you make.
Might a home equity loan or personal loan be appropriate? There are even loans specific to adoption and family building. Ask your bank and do some research for more details on products that might be out there. With all the above, we want to make sure we take interest rates and time horizon of payback into account, making sure that rates and timeframe remain in line with what’s best for your financial health.
There are also grants specifically for adoption costs. Here are some resources (though this is not a comprehensive list, it’s a place to start.) Make sure you do your research and know all the ins and outs of the institution and what’s expected with the grant. You can find reviews from past recipients as well.
- National Adoption Foundation (fundyouradoption.org) I was also happy to see that you will find a photo of two dads with their children on the grants page. Representation is important, in my opinion.
- A Child Waits Foundation (achildwaits.org)
- Gift of Adoption Fund (giftofadoption.org)
- Help Us Adopt (helpusadopt.org) Gays With Kids works closely with their HelpUsAdopt! They give large grants
7. Crowd Funding
AdoptTogether.org is a platform where you can make a crowdfunding campaign specific to adoption or there are also crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe.com. With these, you can start a campaign to raise money towards growing your family that can be contributed to online.
Let’s get creative. Why not make an event that people can come to and in lieu of any gifts, give contributions toward your adoption, surrogacy, or IVF costs? Maybe theme the party around being an Adoption Shower? (or IVF, Surrogacy, etc.) I’m seeing a big thermometer to fill in as each goal is passed matching what it costs (ie first $5K hits the Home Visit, next $10K hits Lawyer Fees, etc.) I think this is powerful because most people don’t realize just how much cost and dedication goes into these family planning options.
9. Foster to Adoption
Many find this to be the most cost-effective and there are so many great kids that need the love and support of a caring family. Fostering tends to help make the process more manageable, both structurally and financially, as a path eventually leading to fatherhood. There are also resources and support such as stipends and reimbursements for applicable costs.
Hopefully, this gives some ideas and gets the juices flowing to get more creative. My hope is that this will help you understand that you don’t need to feel like your financial standing will block you from becoming Dads. There are myriad options that can lead to you being able to give all your love and care as you head towards growing a beautiful family.
Stay tuned for future articles from me as GWKs Financial Planning Expert from the new “Experts Program.” Next, we’ll talk about how to create a solid plan once you’ve become fathers. And as always- don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to have a more comprehensive discussion on your planning at Matthew.Erickson@nm.com.
Disclosure: Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company (NLTC) Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA and SIPC, and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC), a federal savings bank. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI.