The real costs of IVF, surrogacy, adoption and fostering.

If you’re looking for advice about options surrounding fertility, pregnancy or counselling, always consult your doctor.

One in six couples experience fertility issues. One in six. Yet no matter how common it may be, few are prepared to hear the news from their doctor.

Genea Fertility Specialist Dr Anthony Marren describes what couples experience next as a kind of “grief”. But he notes that with the help of doctors, sound advice and thorough research there are ways through this, ways for couples to create the little family of which they’ve always dreamed.

The important thing is they are prepared for the costs – emotional and financial – that come with it.

These are just a few of the most common.

IVF

In vitro fertilisation is a popular technique that involves the use of medication (via an injection) to stimulate the ovaries to mature multiple eggs.

Those eggs are extracted and introduced to sperm in a lab, where the resulting embryos are grown to Day 5 before being transferred back into the woman’s womb. Any surplus embryos are frozen for later use.

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It’s doesn’t work for everyone, of course, and it’s clearly an expensive process.

“Depending on whether the woman has private insurance, the cost of a stimulated cycle at a full cost clinic in Australia is between $3,700 and $4,500 after Medicare rebates,” Dr Marren told Mamamia.

“The cost to return a frozen embryo is between $2,000 and $2,500. So, I would say couples should budget for at least two stimulated and two frozen cycles as a minimum.”

(Image: iStock)

Women will also generally require a day or two off work for the egg collection, which is performed under anaesthesia.

Couples should also be aware that the costs for IVF surrogacy are far greater, as Medicare rebates do not apply.

Surrogacy

On top of the IVF fees and consultations with fertility specialiasts, couples wishing to enlist a surrogate need to prepare for significant financial outlay if they opt to go down this path.

While commercial/for-profit surrogacy is prohibited in Australia couples generally come to an agreement that ensures the surrogate is not out of pocket for any costs relating to the pregnancy. Doctor's fees, for example, or travel costs.

It's a complex arrangement and one for which counselling and legal advice are crucial, so be sure to budget those fees in on top.

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Adoption

There are 30,000 Australian children in need of a permanent home, but in 2015 there were just 292 adoptions, according to Adopt Change.

This constitutes one of the lowest adoption rates in the Western world. This, many advocates argue, is due to factors including lengthy waiting times (generally several years) and tangling bureaucratic red tape, not to mention the emotional stresses that come with all that.

For both local and inter-county adoption, legislation varies state to state, and therefore so do the fees.

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Administrative and legal costs for local adoption in Western Australia, for example, are generally around $2,000, while in NSW they extend beyond $3,616.

For inter-country adoption, they are higher. According to the federal government, costs for applications can range from $3,000 to around $11,000 depending on the state from which they are filed.

There are also additional expenses to consider here, including airline travel, overseas accommodation, preparing documents (this may include translation, legal and notary fees) and fees imposed by the partner country (see here for more information).

It's important to note that, after all this, there is no guarantee you will be matched with a child.

Image via iStock.

Fostering

According to government statistics from 2014, there were at least 43,009 Australian children living in some form of out-of-home care. So there's no doubt that need here is great.

But bringing a child into your home isn't easy. Most come from troubled backgrounds, many have special needs.

Of course, in all states foster carers are paid an allowance to help cover the costs of looking after the child or children in their care.

This is generally a baseline, fortnightly payment, though the amount varies agency to agency and depends on the age and complexity of the child's needs.

In NSW, for example, the allowance for a 5-13-year-old with general care needs is around $530 per fortnight.

Contingency payments are also generally available for specialist appointments and so on.

But the emotional burden can be significant, too. As foster carer Ajda Turkay told Mamamia last year.

“These children are subjected to and confronted with things that any little child shouldn’t be seeing," she said. “Most of the children come quite traumatised and have a pretty dark background, but I think that’s what motivates you more to look after them, to do as much as you can for them."

Mamamia's Infertility Week shines a light on the joy, the pain and everything in between when it comes to creating families. To read more from Infertility Week, click here.

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