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February 15, 2010

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Best of luck to you whatever choice you make.
I will say: No one but you two can make the choice here. Life is more than just about money. The only useful(?) advice I can think to give you is that you spend some small portion with a professional counsellor, priest, minister, or rabbi. It will be more useful than advice here because that person can ask you more personal questions and you and your spouse will be there together. You can look each other and this 3rd party face to face. Are you sure the two of you feel the same about this?
And other key questions.

While I may not share FMF's view completely, take a look at his link on Biblical financing. Good luck

I don't believe anybody can make this decision for you. It's tough, but it really is about how much you want a child and what you'd regret most 10 years from now. How important it is for you to have a child? How important it is for you to have your own child as opposed to adopting one? I am sure all of us here would have our own opinions, but everyone is different. As a childless 50-year old, if I could go back and have a child, I would. But it's me. Others would have different opinions. But none of us will have to live with consequences of your decision, only you. So you really need to make this one on your own.

One other thing. As you probably know that if you have trouble conceiving now, your chances will go down as you get older. After 35, these chances will drop precipitously.

But it's really is up to you.

My brother and sister-in-law have been in your shoes. For a variety of reasons, they could not conceive naturally. Both of them are teachers, with very limited budgets. To be honest, I'm not sure how much they spent or how much debt they incurred for fertility treatments, doctors visits, in vitro, etcetera, but I do know that despite the mountain of debt, they are thrilled to be the parents of a beautiful and healthy baby boy (six months old, today).

Life is about taking risks and creating opportunities for yourself. Once you've closed the door to an opportunity, chances are, it won't ever open again. It's unfortunate that you are in a race against time, but if you want to have a baby, I don't think anyone would fault you for draining your savings. You're young, you have a healthy retirement nest built up, with many years to keep on adding to it.

If you do spend most of your savings, or more, and have less than you would have wanted after you've had your baby, that's okay too. Babies don't need to be expensive, they need to be loved. And from reading your question it sounds to me that you have a heck of a lot of love to give.

Echoing what others have said, this is a very personal choice that the two of you will have to make on your own. Keep in mind, however, that neither choice is *wrong* -- don't feel guilty about the decision making process or the decision you end up with.

On a more practical side, I do strongly recommend spending a few months working with your spouse to make this choice together before spending any more money on fertility treatments (I don't know much about adoption). As you know, fertility treatments start out expensive and go up from there, so *both* of you need to be on the same page as to when (or if) you'll draw the line and stop trying. Also, if you proceed (further) with treatments which span multiple months, make sure you & your spouse regular discuss these "stop points" to make sure you're both still on the same page.

If it is both of your dreams to have a family then don't let the money issue stand in the way. By no way am I saying go broke and be homeless in the process. However, what is the point of aggressive saving and early retirement if there is an emptiness in your life. You are both young and can still save and be financial sound for the future.I have had some great financial accomplishments in my life but nothing is greater the my two boys. Best of luck to you in then future.

I agree with what everyone has said but possibly the most important point is - what would you most regret in 10 years time. You are a teacher so obviously love children, what comfort will a nice house and retirement lifestyle be without the love of family to share it with you? The fertility procedures can be very expensive but a child does not have to be. You can always find a way to make the extra money for your retirement.
Good luck with your decision my heart goes out to you at this very difficult time in your lives

Its a difficult situation, you have my sincere sympathy.

Dealing strictly with the financial priorities...

You seem to be doing fine financially. I wouldn't be concerned with spending the money. I know its a lot but its just money, you can make more.

* I'd stop saving for college temporarily while dealing with this. You have a good head start there already so it won't hurt and its not mandatory to pay for college anyway.
* I don't know what the retirement savings situation is. You both have government jobs so you might have defined pensions and in that case you shouldn't have to save as much as typical towards retirement. If you've got 10% of your income going towards retirement then that should be sufficient, so if you're saving more than that for retirement you could cut back to 10% temporarily.
* You've got 28k in savings & 30k in investments. I'd use the 30k in investments to fund the fertility/adoption. THat would leave you the savings which is a decent emergency fund. I don't konw what the investments were meant for but this seems like a good thing as any to spend it on.
* Look at your spending habits and decide if you want to cut back on any discretionary or luxury spending categories.
* Just in case they haven't done it yet...Talk to the fertility clinic or adoption agencies about financial solutions. I'd look into financing schemes for IVF. They have deals where you pay upfront for 2 treatments and get as many as 3 treatments. Then if 3 treatments leave you without success you get a refund of most of the money.

just my 2¢ on the money aspects, best wishes.

I agree with much of what was said above. This is a very difficult, personal decision--there is no "right" answer.

We were in the same position as you many years ago. We decided to go ahead with the fertility treatments, and $20K later (most of our savings) were blessed with twins. They are now 12 years old and we would make the same decision again in a heartbeat.

One thing that helped us make the decision was to put the money in very concrete terms. For example: If we had a choice between a new car or a child what would we choose? Was having an early retirement more important than having a child? We realized that we were very willing to do without, or working a few more years, for the possibility for a family.

Good luck with your decision! You will be in my prayers!

we went through the same thing
and wound up adopting a beautiful daughter.

having a family is great.

it is your choice, and you need to
decide what is best for you.

You might want to consider your odds in this when making your decision. Fertility treatments have a failure rate, make sure you know what that is for your medical condition. Are you willing to take the chance of spending all this money and if it doesn't work not being able to afford to go the adoption route. How important is it to you to have a biological child? Could you be just as happy by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent?

My wife and I spent years dealing with infertility issues. In the end, we went the route of adoption.

If you decide that you want to look into adoption, it would be good to speak to those that have gone this route. I happen to be the adoptive father of two girls. On the funding side, there is a significant tax credit (does have an income cap) and various organizations provide assistance with international adoption. I would be happy to give you more information if you are interested and give permission to FMF to forward my email address, should you request it.

I think that you have been given wise and caring counsel above, and would just like to add something that helped us as we considered adoption and it's related costs. We were far less financially stable than you are, but asked ourselves if we had this child already, and he/she needed expensive medical treatment, would we be willing to pay $15,000-$20,000 to keep our our family. It helped to consider this as our child out there already, and we just had to do what was necessary to bring her home. I also want to ditto the advice on seeking wise counsel, and Stephens advice regarding "stop points" on fertility treatments if you decide to go that route. God bless you both.

I agree, this is a very personal issue. My ex and I have twins, conceived by IVF--and they are totally worth it! We were able to pay for it on an installment plan.

I would emphasize, however, that there is no correlation between spending the money on fertility treatments and having them "work". My friend spent thousands and went through IVF at least 4 times---to no avail.

Depending on what exactly is causing your infertility, your chances of getting pregnant from IVF can vary widely. You need to hear some statistics from your doctor about your own situation. Only then can you decide if it would be "worth it" to try. I would also recommend deciding how long/how much $$ you will spend trying, if you decide to go that route. You can get statistics on that, also, to inform your decision.

You have to decide based on what you really want in your heart. But don't go into fertility treatments with a do or die attitude - figure out ahead of time (maybe with a counselor) how much you're willing to spend in light of the fact that it might still fail. All your savings? Including your retirement savings? Debt on top of that? And the emotional costs, too - if it doesn't work after X months, can one call it quits with no blame from the other?

Then, like a spending limit at an auction, stick with that - at least til the two of you can discuss calmly & without blame whether to change the plan. Don't let the way you feel when you're on ovulation hormones decide the rest of your life.

P.S. - this isn't an argument for not having or adopting a baby, necessarily, I'm a happy parent - but there's a lot of research showing childless people are overall happier. Only if they make peace with it, I suspect.

My son and his wife both wanted a child but no luck with fertility methods, just a couple of miscarriages.
Then they decided to just give up and go the adoption route. I told them I would pay for the adoption costs but before a penny was actually needed she finally got pregnant again and 9 months later gave birth to little Emily Rose, who is now 9. She's the only child since the mother is now entering menopause.
I sometimes wonder if they were trying too hard with the fertility methods and once they settled on adoption the problem was resolved in their mind and they were at peace with the solution which then led to a pregnancy.

MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo faced the same issue.

Tried for a year naturale`. No go.
Then paid for 2 cycles of IVF. No success.
Then went the adoption route.

Short version: Had *3* failures for a total combined cost of about $50,000 (that includes lawyers and agencies, travel expenses, "reimbursements" to the birth mother (more like extortion! But I digress...), court fees etc.)

Finally last spring Baby MasterPo came to us (at an additional cost too). She's BEAUTIFUL and WONDERFUL!

But it was a long and EXPENSIVE road. Really drained us both financially and emotionally.

MasterPo's best advise is:

1 - Do NOT go to adoption forums for advise. Most are overrun with anti-adoption types and people with a chip on their shoulder. Crazy as that may sound.

2 - Expect to be lied to or at least not get the whole story from the birth mother. That's not a condemnation of anyone. Just a reality.

3 - Agency has no real legal "power" more than a private adoption as far as getting to a successful conclusion for you. There are a lot of anti-provate adoption people out there too who's mantra is agency-agency-agency (they probably work for agencies!).

4 - Probably most important: You need to decide if YOU want an open, closed or semi-open adoption with the birth mother. An open adoption is where you and the BM stay in continual contact after the adoption (mail/email, phone calls, chats, and then later when the child is older visits, gifts from the BM etc). Closed is where after the adoption you go one way and she goes the other never to meet again. Semi-open is in the middle where you agree to send updates on the child's development and achievements over the years but there is little if any contact with the BM otherwise. No one can make this decision for you. For MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo we wanted a Closed or Semi-open adoption. We didn't want to deal with any possible regrets of the BM later or conflict in how we raised our child.

Best of luck to you!

Spend as much as you want to try and have the family. I think you'll regret not spending the money and in the grand scheme of things 15/20k is not a lot of money when looking at one's entire life.

It sounds like you are in a wonderful position to give a child a good and loving home. May I suggest going to an ob/gyn who does not do fertility treatments for a second opinion on what your chances of concieving are with the treatments. Having watched some friends go through the painful process it seems they were not given all the information they needed by a clinic that was continuily trying to upsell them. I would also like to suggest taking a look at adopting from foster care. The children there are sometimes older but are already cleared by the courts for adoption, also it often free to the adoptive parents. Best of luck to you.

At least 2 people who did IVF ended up with twins. Can you and your husband afford to have two kids at the same time? (Twins means you can't pass down clothes!) Can you afford to pay for IVF and have no kids? What are the odds of getting 1 child from IVF versus 0 or 2? These would be open concerns for me. I'd probably lean toward adoption, but I am single and childless...just reflecting on what I'd do in a few more years if this happens to me.

My husband and I make almost all of our decisions based on personal priorities. We have so far chosen vacations and puppies over children. You and your husband obviously want children, I'd say you already have made up your minds. :-)

I'd adopt but I have two friends that completely disagree...honestly, only you and your husband know whether you want to try further fertility treatments or pursue adoption. Either way, you know you want to have kids and money is not as important as a decision that big, right?

I'm deeply sorry for the pain you are going through right now. No matter what you two choose, I truly wish you happiness.

@Old Limey,

You said:

"I sometimes wonder if they were trying too hard with the fertility methods and once they settled on adoption the problem was resolved in their mind and they were at peace with the solution which then led to a pregnancy."

This is unfortunately an old wives tale. Being stressed out about getting pregnant has no statistical correlation with failure to get pregnant. It has been studied. Pregnancy is fairly random for a lot of people and there are always people who just happen to get pregnant after they "give up" and that brings out lots of people who then think that is what caused it. There are plenty more who "give up" and don't get pregnant but no one talks about them.

My best advice to the questioner is the following:

If you plan to take the IVF route look into a clinic that has an insurance plan.

Statistics show that at a typical clinic with a typical patient each IVF cycle is around 40-50% successful. The statistics get worse the older the woman is. I don't want to be discouraging but honest. It's often worth taking the chance but the odds are far from certain. So because of that an insurance plan is a great way to deal with that and some clinics will offer a plan similiar to the one I will describe below.

An insurance plan typically costs about 1.5 - 2 times of what it would cost for 1 IVF cycle. The typical plan pays for up to 3 cycles and guarantees you one pregnancy resulting in a live birth. As soon as you have a live birth anytime in the 3 cycles you are done. If after 3 cycles you do not have a child you get about 80-90% of the money that you paid back and can use that for adoption.

This is a good way to deal with the uncertainty of IVF and still have money left for adopting your child if it doesn't work.

I highly recommend that method in your case. Good luck!

I also recommend being very careful with how many eggs you implant. The odds of multiples is greatly increased by IVF and while 2 may be fine, 3 is tough and slightly dangerous and more than 3 can be a big disaster. You will definitely be advised to do selective reduction (abortion) if you end up with more than 3 (possibly even with 3), so know what you are possibly facing and make the choices in advance to keep from putting yourself into a decision you do not want to have to make.

One of my daughters has a 21 year old daughter from her second marriage and then she married again and at age 50 with her new husband wanting a child and with her unable to produce one they decided on adoption.
They adopted a cute little Mexican/White baby from a mother that lived about 50 miles away. The adoption probably cost about $15,000. It was an open adoption but the mother (whose is fast and loose) hasn't contacted them in a long time.
Shortly afterwards another baby became available this time it was the offspring of two white high school kids, and a very striking blue eyed blonde. This was also an open adoption and the father and grandmother occasionally visit (and actually babysit for them while they go out). The birth mother hasn't seen the child since it was delivered.
My daughter and her husband are incredibly happy with their two new arrivals that are now both walking and talking. They live at Lake Tahoe in a forested area and have shown us videos of their two dogs each pulling one of the babies through the snow on small sleds. The older one, even though she is only two can also ski on the bunny slopes and ride the chairlift.
They live 250 miles away so we have only met the two girls once and will not be part of their lives but she keeps us posted through her blog which is frequently updated.

I'm all for adoption - this planet has far too many human beings already which makes adoption an excellent choice.

First off, I'm really, really sorry.

At this point, most likely the reality is that adding children to your family is going to be expensive. Fertility treatments are expensive, and adoption is expensive. What for many people is an easy, even thoughtless, decision, won't be for you. I'm so sorry. BUT, there are many ways to build a family, and in all likelihood in a few years you'll be running around chasing after a 2 year old. From a financial position, I say decide as a couple how much you are willing to spent, and then go for it. You are obviously thoughtful and responsible people; you will still be thoughtful and responsible people after spending the money, and you will manage your (reduced) resources well.

I'm your same age, and in the last few years it seems all my friends are being struck with...really difficult things. We all seem to be looking at each other and saying "I had no idea life was so hard!". It sounds like you have met your hard point. Financially, most of these hard points have cost money - you may be spending money on fertility treatments. Friends of mine have watched their hard earned savings be eaten up by jaw/dental surgeries, divorces, unemployment, mental health treatment, children's medical expenses, and major, unforeseen, home repairs. I'm not trying to be negative here, just point out that life never goes according to plan, and SOMETHING is always going to happen which takes money. And it seems like for you, that's having a baby. So I'd say, go ahead an spend your resources to fulfill your dream of a family. And if I had to to spend $40k unexpectedly, I'd rather get a baby than a new septic tank! (Much nicer to hug!=)) I don't think you'll ever regret it. Best of luck to you and your family!

What is the point of working hard and being responsible with money but for yourself and family if your choice is to have one. You both seem to be responsible and I think you will know when to much is to much and with god and all our prayers hopefully it doesn't come to the point where you have to make the choice and a baby happens sooner then later. When you are risking both your security to just get by then you have gone to far, but I think you will not let that happen. You are young and have a good head on your shoulder and when a baby does come and don't have as much as you would have likes I am sure you will rebuild it quickly.

I'm so sorry about where you find yourself and hope you will find a path that will bring you the family of your dreams.

I too dealt with infertility treatment. We did IVF multiple times, and are so grateful it resulted in our son. We paid about $60K out of pocket over about 5 years (during some of which we were actively pursuing treatment and some not). This was in the era of cheap credit, and rather than trim retirement savings, we opted to roll balances, but that approach may no longer work.

The advice on financing deals is good, I think, though there are many nuts-and-bolts to those plans that can be hard to evaluate starting out (things to ask: who decides how many embryos are transferred; can you take a break if you complete a cycle that didn't work and are emotionally exhausted).

I disagree with nmh, not about the value of a second opinion, but about the suggestion of getting one from an OB/GYN. There are certainly "bad" fertility clinics, and different approaches to treatment (making getting a second opinion valuable), but the vast majority of OBs are not up-to-date on the science of treating infertility. See a second reproductive endocrinologist if you want a second opinion on your options for infertility treatment.

There are a ton of online resources relating to infertility and adoption that I'd be happy to share.

If you'd like to contact me via email I'm happy to have FMF share my email address with you.

My wife and I have gone through the exact same situation. Ultimately we decided that we would rather spend $20k for adoption and be more or less guaranteed a baby. Plus the adoption credit brought the cost down to $8k. IVF is incredibly tolling on everyone involved and is not guaranteed. Adoption is an amazing thing that can be hard to embrace at first, but seems so clear after you hold that baby in your arms for the first time. Our son is now three years old and we are in the process of adopting again and are just overflowing with excitement for who our next child will be. It's definitely worth just sitting down and talking with a referred adoption agency, some of them aren't very good. I wish you the best in your decision!

One more thing to consider about adoption: The Adoption Tax Credit.

Currently it is about $12,000. That helps a lot!

*** BUT ***

The credit is part of the Bush tax cuts that Obama promises to allow to expire end of 2010. If he does allow them to expire without extension the Adoption Tax Credit will *DROP* to about $5,000.

Tell MasterPo again how this is going to help the children?

Please adopt.
There are so many wonderful abandoned children out there who would be thrilled to have a loving family of their own.
And there are so many mothers who cannot keep their babies for whatever reason, and would be so thankful to have a loving family who will take their baby and care for it as their own.
Trust me, I know. America really needs to focus more on Adoption, and less on fertility treatments (or worse).

My husband and I are going through the same, horribly painful process. We will spend close to $50,000 when all is said and done. We may not even have a child at the end of it. (We may consider adoption but if you really look into it, it's not that easy if you want an infant and also expensive.)

Anyway, you have my sympathy. I hope that you'll be successful. Adoption can be wonderful but anyone who says 'just adopt' doesn't know the pain of infertility. It really shakes up your world in a bad way.

I am assuming from your cost estimate that your insurance doesn't cover anything? Medication costs a lot too so try to ask your doctor/nurse for samples. I also found out that Walmart has a specialty clinic -- you have to fill out paperwork but they listed infertility as one of their specialties. I found out late in the game so I don't know if they stock all infertility medications, but I did find one drug for 50% less than other specialty pharmacies.

I am not sure what your condition is, but I have a close friend who spent 20K on fertility treatment to no avail (they couldn't find anything wrong and none of the treatments worked). She finally accepted her life, and stopped stressing out, and I just found out she is 2 months pregnant! I think sometimes people just get so stressed out about having kids that their bodies are not receptive to it. If you don't have a condition that makes it impossible to have kids, I say, take a nice long vacation...

Sheesh, that's a tough one. This is an instance where personal liberties and public goodwill clash. Ideally, it would never get to having to exercise the Baker Act or something similar. In a way, involving family may help (if they are there) but often the family is not capable to assist either or non-existent. In fact, frequently individuals that require mental health treatment have negatively impacted their relationships with family and friends and then develop secondary behavoiral health issues. I don't know what the answer is, but this really gives me something to ponder...

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