The New Yorker cover illustrates a delightful image of two moms intently reading a thoughtful card their children wrote them while their three kids peek intently from behind the stairwell, gauging their reactions. This whimsical morning scene tugs at the heartstrings, but begs the question: how difficult was it for that imaginary New Yorker family to get to where they are?
Their humble abode seems fairly nice - lot’s of natural sunlight, two keys on the wall, large glass windows. However, lurking next under to the stairs is a cost that the majority of heterosexual couples dwell frequently on: the cost of parenting.
LGBT couples face a social, economic, and legal battlefield when embarking on their journey to have kids whether it is by conception, adoption, or prior relationships. A study from NerdWallet estimates that lesbian couples pay an average $5,000 more to become parents. What is deeply unnerving is that whatever “rights” or lack thereof that they gain from the extensive and expensive legal proceedings, can be imagined away at the drop of a homophobic hat. The cost of LGBT parenting goes beyond the courtroom, it spans a vast number of subtle costs that heterosexual couples do not need to worry about on a day-to-day basis.
Cost to have
For many couples, the cost of conception can be nearly $0 if they have a child from a previous relationship or are co-parenting with another partner. Some couples may choose to become foster parents, a great option considering that the large number of children that remain in the system without a permanent home. In fact, many foster care agencies are specifically reaching out to LGBT communities to help align their interests with the agency’s goals.
For the large majority of LGBT couples however, sperm banks, artificial insemination, and private adoption are more appealing options. A run to the sperm bank typically costs at leastclose to over $1,000 each time per visit. The out-of-pocket costs can rise astronomically iIf a couple decides to engage in more nuanced forms of conception like artificial insemination or surrogacy, the costs can rise to astronomical costs, all of which are out of pocket.
Cost to Have
Even if couples can get over the first fiscal hump of being able to afford a child, they still must confront the re then is the mounting legal cost of paperwork, court dates, and home visits to ensure that, if you must, you can in time of need you can indeed prove that your child is indeed yours. The NerdWallet’s analysis looked at second adoption laws in all fifty states and found that only twelve 12 states have statewide protection of joint LGBT adoption and second- parent adoption. Nine states offer protection to either joint adoption or second-parent one or the other form of adoption (joint/second). And ten 10 states offer protections to one or the other, but not statewide. So, even when same-sex parents pony up the estimated $2,500 in legal fees, $2,000 in home visit fees, $600 in court fees (, oramounting in an average of an extra $5,000 on average), extra dollars; they may still be denied their rights later down the line.
Beyond conception and adoption costs, LGBT same-sex couples face annual up- charges for the fact that they are not afforded the same rights as heterosexual married couples. These total costs can supersede add up each year and trade-off with violin lessons, summer camp, and maybe even dental insurance. The most staggering cost differential that adds to the cost of LGBT parenting is that of health insurance
. Depending on the terms of the employer-based insurance, one spouse is usually off of the plan due to lack of legal protections. This means an extra monthly premium, in addition to the likelihood that again depending on each state’s policy, an extra premium for a child’s health insurance plan. On top of that, Mmany options that are considered luxuries otherwise to some may serve to be necessities for LGBT lesbian couples. Private schooling, private playgroups and tutors, or homeschooling may be a preferable form of education depending on the atmosphere of your local schools.
The Emotional Cost
More expensive than any legal fee, sperm bank fee, or health insurance co-pay, is the reminder at every turn that you have to prove yourself to be the “rightful” parent. The fact that you need to carry a set of legal documents the size of a desktop to begin to prove your parentage instead of a series of wallet shaped snapshots of their kids against cheesy backgrounds from JC Penney, is a literal heavy cost that LGBT parents carry each and every day.