So you want to be a parent, or at least are thinking about it.
If you’re queer, there’s a good chance that you don’t have the biology to make that happen without some form of artificial insemination or choosing to adopt.
Find the most common methods people use to embark on their queer parenting journey in the guide below.
Each method summary includes the basic definition and estimated cost.
Adoption is legal for queer people in all 50 states in the US. There are several ways to adopt a child. However, depending on the state, religious exemption laws can be used to discriminate against those who want to adopt.
The cost of adoption ranges widely. Some adoptions take place for a very low cost (almost $0). By comparison, the high end of adoption cost is around $50k. The difference mostly depends on how you decide to adopt.
Using a surrogate carrier is an option for individuals and couples for whom it’s not possible or desirable to become pregnant. It’s most often used by cis gay men, trans folx, and cis women who experience fertility challenges.
If your body produces sperm and you want to be biologically related to your child, this option is for you. As it goes for queer people in the US, the state where you live and where the surrogate lives will determine your legal options.
If you are interested in surrogacy, it’s good to also read up on IVF.
Surrogacy is the most expensive option by far, costs range from around $100-200k.
We don’t yet have a surrogacy guide available. Here are a couple of queer friendly resources:
- Men Having Babies – surrogacy agency directory and ratings
- surrogate.com – info and list of queer friendly agencies
If you (or your partner) is able and willing to become pregnant, there are a variety of options to consider. You can use a sperm donor to get pregnant, and there are several conception options.
Known Sperm Donor
One option is to ask someone you know to be the donor. Online forums also exist where donors can be sought and found. If you are considering this route it is important to make legal agreements around rights to parenthood.
For some families or donors this is the ideal route because they want their kids to know the donor or want the donor to be part of the kid’s life. That’s great! But it’s still very important to have legal agreements in place. Otherwise you would leave your family open to having your parental rights questioned.
Some states require a physician to sign off on donor inseminations in order to establish that the donor has no rights of parentage. There have been court cases where donors have been granted custody of children. And at least one case where the donor was required to pay child support.
Most people who use a known donor will utilize the famous turkey baster method – which in medical terms is called an ICI. If you are interested in this method, please do not actually use a turkey baster.
Anonymous Sperm Donor
The other donor option is using a sperm bank. For some this is an attractive option because there is no possible legal tie from the sperm donor. When they choose to donate, they are foregoing claims of parenthood from any resulting children.
Sperm banks have varying agreements around anonymity. Some donors choose to always remain anonymous. And others leave the option open for the child to reach out once they are over 18 years old (if they so choose).
Another advantage of using a donor from a sperm bank is the testing and profiles they provide. Most will test the donor for STDs, ask family medical history questions, record general physical characteristics, interview the donor and optionally show baby photos. All of which are available to browse in their online catalog before purchasing sperm. The sperm bank will also keep a record of the sperm count and motility for each donation and record resulting pregnancies. They usually cap donors after a certain number of pregnancies.
If you choose to use a sperm bank, there are still several more decisions to make about conception.
The options of how to get pregnant with donor sperm are:
- ICI – intracervical insemination (aka vaginal insemination)
- IUI – intrauterine insemination
- IVF – in vitro fertilization
- Reciprocal IVF – where one partner supplies the donor egg and the other partner carries the pregnancy
Below are basic descriptions and costs.
What is ICI?
ICI (intracervical insemination) is when sperm is placed in a person’s vagina at the opening of the cervix. Some fertility clinics offer to do this procedure at the clinic, but most people use this method for at home insemination, aka the turkey baster method.
Cost of ICI
If you are using a known donor the cost of donation is between the involved parties. You can purchase a specimen cup and large needleless syringe at a pharmacy or buy insemination kits online.
If you are purchasing sperm from a sperm bank, the cost is around $1500 per vial plus shipping and storage costs as needed. You can do multiple inseminations per month to increase the chances of success.
What is IUI?
An IUI is a procedure where a uterine catheter is used to insert washed sperm directly in a person’s uterus. Often, a speculum is used to allow the practitioner to see the cervix. Then the tip of the catheter is inserted into the cervix, and the washed sperm is injected through the catheter into the uterus.
Cost of IUI
The cost of IUI is between $300 – $4000 out of pocket – that does not include purchasing sperm. If you have insurance that covers fertility treatments, some of that cost may be covered under your plan.
What is IVF?
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is the process of retrieving eggs from a person’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm in a lab. It is done in combination with hormone treatments to produce as many viable embryos as possible. There are multiple types of IVF treatment.
Cost of IVF
IVF costs range from $5k – $25k per cycle. Typically the cost is at least $10k. Some insurance plans will cover it as a fertility treatment.
What is Reciprocal IVF?
Reciprocal IVF is when one partner’s eggs are harvested and fertilized, then implanted in the other partner’s uterus. So one partner is the egg donor and the other is the carrying (pregnant) partner.
Cost of Reciprocal IVF
Reciprocal IVF costs are often $20k or more, depending on which specific procedures and fertility treatments are used.
More info on Reciprocal IVF in the IVF guide.