The number of married same-sex and non-binary households, and the number of children being raised by LGBTQIA+ couples, has grown rapidly over recent years. While there is still more that needs to be done to promote equality, we’re encouraged by the progress being made, thanks in part to legislation making it easier to get married and have children. And this community deserves attention for many reasons – including the fact that the LGBTQIA+ community has a spending power of $1.4 Trillion, according to Yahoo Finance.
Below, we dive into the numbers – how many same sex couples exist today, how much it costs to have a baby, and some of the resources that exist for these families.
How many same sex households are there in the U.S. today?
There were 1.2 million same-sex couple households in 2021, and that number has been steadily growing, according to the American Community Survey. In 2016, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the number of married same-sex households began to outpace unmarried same-sex couple households.
In just one generation, the number of people who identify as LGBTQIA+ has doubled, from Millennials to Gen Z. Around 21% of Gen Z identify as LGBTQIA+, which is 2x more than Millennials and 3x the current national average – a Gallup poll from 2021 found that 7.1% of U.S. adults overall identify as LGBTQIA+.
How many same sex households have children?
As these trends continue and more LGBTQIA+ friendly legislation is passed in the U.S., we expect that the number of same-sex couples raising children would increase. According to U.S. Census data from 2019, 14.7% of same-sex couples had at least one child in their household.
The social and legal climate has greatly affected how LGBTQIA+ people have formed families and become parents. Historically, with LGBTQIA+ people coming out later in life due to the anti-LGBTQIA+ climate, some have been raising children who may have been conceived as part of a previous opposite sex relationship.
This trend is changing as the climate has shifted to be more accepting of LGBTQIA+ people. Today, a larger number of same-sex couples are planning their families through the use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy, as well as through adoption. Same-sex couples are 4x more likely to adopt than heterosexual couples and 63% of LGBTQIA+ people are expecting to use ART or adoption to become parents.
How much does it cost to have a baby for LGBTQIA+ families?
There are many pathways to parenthood for LGBTQIA+ people including adoption, IUI, IVF and surrogacy. Each one of these options has their own costs as well as legal requirements to secure parental rights.
Adoption: The cost can range from $35,000 to $50,000 for those choosing to adopt an infant in the U.S. through an adoption agency or with the help of an attorney.
IUI or IVF: Same-sex couples wishing to carry their own child, or single female parents can use Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), the method by which sperm is placed directly into the uterus. The cost can range from $250 to $4,000 for the procedure. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is when eggs are retrieved through a medical procedure, fertilized in a lab and then transferred back into the uterus, can cost up to $20,000 for one cycle. For both IVF and IUI, parents may need to purchase sperm from a bank, which can cost $300 to $1,500 per vial.
Surrogacy: Couples wishing to have their own child who do not biologically have a womb, or single male parents, may work with a gestational carrier and/or an egg donor. This can cost upwards of $200,000+. Egg donors can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000. If intended parents choose to work with a surrogacy agency to help with finding a surrogate, managing legal processes and other support, they can expect to pay $30,000 to $50,000 in fees. The surrogate themself can range from $40,000 to $60,000 including their base compensation and other expenses.
What are some of the unique needs for LGBTQIA+ families?
For LGBTQIA+ people starting their family through IVF or surrogacy, they face their own unique set of challenges. Depending on which state they live in, they can face legal hurdles as each state has their own surrogacy laws and some states have restrictions or may not recognize their parental rights.
When it comes to the medical costs of fertility treatments, most health insurance plans do not cover the costs for LGBTQIA+ individuals. If their insurance does cover fertility treatment, the individual must prove that they have been trying to conceive for 6-12 months or have a diagnosis of infertility. This can result in additional expenses for some and create impossible barriers for others.
What kinds of resources are there to help with building a family?
There are several communities that offer guidance. Sunfish is proud to be an official family-building partner of GWK Academy (created by Gays With Kids) and a partner of Men Having Babies, both of which provide education, access to discounts, and community spaces for LGBTQIA+ men trying to have a child. There are also non-profits such as Family Equality and Resolve who continually advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights in the U.S.
There is still a lot that can be done to provide greater access to resources for LGBTQIA+ individuals and Sunfish is proud to support them with financial guidance on their journey to parenthood. Please feel free to contact us for more information.