Adoption, Education, Infertility

How to pay for IVF, surrogacy or adoption

November 19, 2012

Since IVF, surrogacy and adoption are so ridiculously expensive and most of us don’t have $20,000 -$50,000 lying around, I thought I would share some cost-cutting, saving, money-making and fundraising ideas.

When we were just starting down the path of infertility, we thought these costs were insurmountable and were very discouraged.  But, I want to encourage everyone that even if you do not have the means right now, having a child is still possible. It takes a lot of hard work and effort, and for some more than others.

How far are you willing to go?

First and foremost though, are you really willing?  You have to be able to put your money where your mouth is.  Do you really want this enough?  Do you want this enough to give up other things?  This is a hard question and one you might be surprised at if you are honest with yourself.

I have known some that could afford it, but are not willing to and won’t admit it. They want a child, but not enough to spend that kind of money on. Instead, they just complain, while spending on everything else.

And, I know others who are barely getting by, but have sacrificed everything. I even know one girl who found another job that would have fertility coverage and then had to leave a job she loved, her home and everything else to take that new job in a different state.

The hardest part for me was knowing that spending so much money was a gamble.  It wasn’t guaranteed that if we spent a pile of money on IVF that we would end up with a baby.  In the end, we knew we had to try, no matter the cost.  And, I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life if I hadn’t tried everything.  My parents said it best to me and said something to the effect of , “We couldn’t put a price on you. You are worth more to us than anything.”

Cutting costs

  1. IVF Studies. Check into applying for studies where you’d get the treatment for free.  And, if you’re like me, you’re thinking I don’t want to be a science experiment, but it’s not like that. You aren’t trying new drugs or anything like that.  It’s more like they are testing different protocols to see what works best.
  2. IVF Shared Risk Programs. Also, for IVF, check into shared risk programs.  We did this and our program works in that you spend $20,000 on IVF (not including meds, IVF tests, etc.) up front and you can do up to 4 fresh IVF cycles and unlimited frozen ones and if you don’t bring a baby home after that, you get all of your money back.  So, if it works on round one, you paid double what you normally would have.  But with two or more rounds, you win with the cost.  The problem for us is that we did six rounds (transfers), but only two retrievals.  After six, we knew we were done and it just wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t put my body and my emotions through any more. So, since I can’t complete the program, I have the option of getting half the money back if I withdraw at any time.  We think this is a good program and benefited us greatly. (Update: We were able to use our program for surrogacy. )
  3. IVF Gifted Cycles & Grants.  Apply for free rounds of IVF.  Some of the big clinics do give-aways if you come to informational events and things like that.  Also, you can apply for grants.  Check out AGC Scholarships and the Cade Foundation.
  4. Donated Meds. Ask your clinic if anyone has donated any meds.  A very generous girl who had success with IVF at my clinic gave her leftover meds back to the clinic to donate to me.
  5. Discounted Meds. For IVF meds, apply for special programs, discounts, rebates, etc.  Ask your clinic.  (Example: Gonal F discount)
  6. Private adoption. For adoption, are you willing to pursue a private adoption? A private adoption can cost way less money than an agency adoption. Create your own website, Facebook page, flyers and tell everyone you know.
  7. Find your own surrogate. For a surrogate, try to find a friend or family member who might be interested in helping you for free or low costs. Or, find your own surrogate.  More info.

Coming up with money

  1. Cut expenses.  What can you cut from your monthly expenses to help save more?  What are you willing to cut? Maybe it’s time to cut the cord and ditch cable TV. There are lots of small sacrifices you can make to save money.
  2. Sell stuff.  Is there anything worth something that you’re not using?  A piano, a ring you never wear any more, a pool table?  Sell on craigslist or ebay.  At one point, I was willing to sell my engagement ring, but my husband absolutely refused.
  3. Get a loan.  You’d do it for a car, why not for a baby?  The part that really stinks is that you can get a car loan for as low as 0%, but a personal loan from typical banks is more like 10%. However, for adoption you can apply for no interest loans and grants.  Check out Abba Fund, Lifesong for Orphans, Show Hope.
  4. Refinance your house with a cash out.  We were lucky that we were able to do this.  Maybe not the smartest financial decision, but having a child is more important to us than anything else.  Talk to some financial people about this.
  5. Equity line of credit.  Can you get an equity line of credit on your home?
  6. Borrow from your 401K.  Again, not the best financial advice, but we’re talking about creating life, which in these circumstances might trump all.
  7. Check with your employer.  Some employers offer adoption benefits. Federal and state employees are generally allowed up to $3,000 per adoption. Ask your employer about this benefit.
  8. Tax credit.  Remember that for adoption you could get the federal adoption credit if it’s renewed.  For 2012, it’s $12,650.  So, if you got a loan, you could pay some of it back within several months to a year.
  9. Fight for yourself!  Did you know that there are two huge bills in Congress right now for IVF and adoption tax credits?  The bills are not going to pass themselves.  It’s going to take ALL of us to support this effort.  They both would provide a tax credit for the out-of-pocket costs incurred for the medical treatment of infertility or adoption at about $13,360. (You would need to have out-of-pocket costs totaling $26,720 to claim the entire credit in your lifetime.) What can you do?  Call your Congressional representatives and Senators!  Write them letters! Go visit them!  Get all of the information here.

Making extra money

  1. Start a side business in sales.  This is what I did for a while to make extra money for our fund.  It’s great because you are in charge and work extra when you can.  You make your own hours and work as much as you want.  I told people why I was doing this and asked for their help. I loathed even doing that, but I had to swallow my pride.
  2. What are you good at?  I also love photography, so I created an etsy site to sell some of my work.  I’m not making big bucks, but every little bit helps.  I also do portraits and other photography gigs for extra money. My husband does computer consulting for extra money.  Can you paint?  Can you help people with taxes?  Can you bake? It can be anything.


So, this is the “fun” part.  This kind of stuff is hard and some of these ideas require you to swallow more of your pride than others. Only you can know what is best and how far you are willing to go.  I haven’t done this kind of fundraising, but here are some ideas.

  1. Partner with businesses for fundraisers.
    1. Restaurants. A friend of mine just did a fundraiser with Chick-Fil-A, where they got a portion of sales for everyone that took a voucher she gave them to a particular restaurant on a particular night.  Who knew?
    2. Online Retailers. This same friend also did a fundraiser with where when anyone who uses a special link shops at amazon, they get a portion of the sale donated to them.
    3. Local independent consultants. I recently did a Stella & Dot party fundraiser for my friend who is adopting.  I donated my entire commission, so she got 25% of all sales for her party, plus free jewelry she could use to auction.
  2. Have a big yard sale.  Ask everyone you know to donate items.  Try to sell the really good stuff before the yard sale on Craigslist to get more for it.
  3. Other sales.  Car wash, Bake sale, etc.
  4. Do a raffle.  Buy or ask for a donation for a great item.  Then sell $10 raffle tickets to everyone you know. Post in on Facebook and wherever.  It’s a win-win.  Only $10 for them and for a good cause, but they have the chance to win something really great.
  5. Online Auction.  Similar to above, but ask friends and local businesses to donate small items to give away.  Do an online auction on Facebook.  Easy.
  6. Puzzle piece donations. Buy a puzzle and let people donate a certain amount for each  piece and you can write their name on the back of the puzzle. (To see families who have done this click here, here, or here).
  7. Host something.  A benefit concert or a golf tournament.
  8. Flat out asking for donations. I saved this one for last for a reason, as it should be a last ditch effort in my opinion. I never did this, but I did include a harmless “Donate” link on our adoption website.  My opinion is that you should make sure you are doing EVERYTHING else you can before you do this.  Why should others help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself?  Also, I do have to say that a few very kind, very generous people sent us donations even though we didn’t ask.  They knew we were fundraising though.  We feel incredibly grateful for their kindness.

Other Resources

Do you have other ideas or did some of these ideas work for you?  If so, feel free to comment below.


Resources + Connect

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  • Lindy

    This post is really informative. You always do a great job of compiling information and presenting it in a way that makes sense. This is another post I’m sure I’ll be referring back to.

    I was thinking about you last week. Hope the support group’s first meeting went well!

    • Whitney Anderson

      Lindy, Thanks so much for asking. It went great and we are going to continue to meet, so I hope more girls will come next time. And, thanks for your compliments on the post. I feel like I must know this stuff for a reason, so I should share. 🙂

  • Whitney, this is fantastic. Thank you so much for this phenomenal resource – I’m adding this to my “Financial Assistance” resource page at The Infertility Voice.

    • Whitney Anderson

      Thanks! Your page is great too and I have added the link.

  • Dee

    Great post Whitney! As far as IVF, another option to consider is travelling to another country where IVF is alot cheaper! We saved quite a bit going to Spain and received high quality treatment.

  • Great post with a lot of useful information. I agree with DEE’s opinion regarding treatment costs. High quality treatments are available in India, especially in Kerala. is a well reputed centre with high quality treatments at less cost.

  • Laura

    Rant!!! Who dictates that asking for money for IVF/adoption is tacky? I keep finding people saying that. No one in this position is proud. It takes a lot of guts to ask your community for help.. But who is dictating that it is tacky? Families that are blessed with natural efforts? I would never judge a woman for the efforts they take to begin a family, especially having faced that situation. So who exactly is so offended by that notion to deam it classless? We are deciding the next steps to fund our efforts, and have thought of selling items/fund raising/and asking for help because that’s what we need right now. It is so discouraging to think people would actually look down on us for that. They say it takes a village to raise a child, so where is that village when we are trying to create one?