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Going into debt for a baby

This afternoon, I was doing some stuff and watching Dr. Phil’s show about women who are desperate to become moms. In one of the couples, the wife is really desperate to try to get through her PCOS and become pregnant. She even considered using her credit card to go into debt for the treatments when her husband said that he didn’t want to keep paying for them since they weren’t really working.

So often, it’s easy to say that all debt is bad (except maybe mortgages). Golbguru at the Tao of Making Money wrote today about debt being a way to buy time. This couple obviously has some tough decisions to make—when is it a lost cause? While I don’t approve of mindlessly getting into debt, I can understand why the wife would want to go into debt for babies.

They only have so much time to where it’s possible to have a baby. It’s something that means a lot to the wife and her husband realy wants a baby–though he’s feeling ready to give up.

It’s a decision they should make together, of course, so it’s good for them that she chose to go on Dr. Phil rather than do it secretly on the side.

Are infertility treatments a good debt?

It’s a heartbreaking situation. I don’t currently have that passion to become a mother (I think I’d like to be one, just not yet), but if I felt what these women feel and if I had to go into debt to get a baby, I don’t know what I’d do.

A baby isn’t a fancy car, a big house, even a stylish handbag. Dr. Phil pointed out that those are just things. A baby is person, a relationship.

I might choose to adopt because it’s more guaranteed than infertility treatments…but I really want to have my own child. I don’t know. I do believe that a child is a worth it.

(Nina at Queercents has also been writing about this, as she and her partner are trying to become pregnant.)


Lynnae @Being Frugal December 6, 2007 at 9:04 pm

Oooooh. I can answer this one. We tried for 18 months to get pregnant with my daughter and 3 years to get pregnant with my son. We had one miscarriage between the kids after two years of trying. We eventually needed to use fertility drugs to conceive both of our children.

I would consider going into debt for adoption. It would probably have to be my last resort, because I hate debt, but I would do it. If that’s my last option for a baby, it would be worth it.

I wouldn’t go into debt for fertility treatment. Most high level fertility treatments don’t have a great success rate. And they are super expensive. It’s great if it works out and you conceive a baby, but could you imagine going 10K in debt only to not have it work, and then face the disappointment of not having a baby and STILL have to pay off the debt? I think that would be devastating.

It’s definitely a tough decision though. And it’s hard to make rational decisions when you want something so badly. I caught some of the Dr. Phil show today, and the emotions those women were facing just took me back to a time I’d rather forget. It’s just so painful, and I really hope they are all able to have the families they want.

mrsmicah December 6, 2007 at 9:11 pm

“could you imagine going 10K in debt only to not have it work, and then face the disappointment of not having a baby and STILL have to pay off the debt? I think that would be devastating.”

I agree—that would be horrible. I could see spending money I already have more easily than going into debt. I don’t think I’d regret losing some savings, but having to deal with that item in my budget each month…

“It’s just so painful, and I really hope they are all able to have the families they want.”

I hope so too—their pain was palpable. 🙁

m December 6, 2007 at 11:08 pm

I am not meaning to be picky or offensive in any way (hope it isn’t taken that way), but am making this comment because I think language is important and powerful and word choice so much more than just a petty matter of semantics. And I come across this particular wording often enough that I think it is an issue worth commenting on.

Given that, I felt your particular choice of wording in the 2nd to last par. seems to imply by way of contrast that an adopted child is somehow less one’s “own” baby than a bio. child is.

I think using the terms “bio.child” and “adopted child” if there is a need to distinguish b/w the two, is more accurate and less hurtful than using “own child” vs. “adopted child,” since an adopted child IS one’s “own” child just as a bio. child is.

As for the topic of paying for fert. treatments if it were me personally, I’d choose adoption. If I desp. wanted a bio. child, which clearly these people do, then I’d do what I could afford to have one, but go into debt over it, no.

Good debt is when the debt is needed for something that will help you financially in the long run, right? I don’t consider paying to be able to have a child good debt.

Plus, I think keeping your finances in good shape for a child is imp. too. Going into debt to have a child might mean having poor finances once the child shows up and needs care (for a lifetime).

thebaglady December 7, 2007 at 2:06 am

I think sadly, not everyone is meant to have kids. I was at church the other day and a woman said to me, “you don’t control your womb, God does”. She said she went to get her tubes tied after her first daughter turned 13 and then found out she was pregnant with her second child on the day of the surgery!! So sometimes when we keep on trying to throw money at something we want it just doesn’t always work out.

mrsmicah December 7, 2007 at 6:26 am

I understand, m, the semantics and such are very difficult on this. I know several families who have biological and adopted children–and the parents feel the same about all of them: these are my kids.

I think beforehand, though, when people are evaluating the situation they don’t see it in the same way. I’m not sure why—but it would explain why people spend thousands on fertility treatments when there are lots of kids out there who need loving families.

Nina December 7, 2007 at 7:47 am

Mrs. Micah: Thanks for mentioning my most recent post. My partner and I agreed early on that we wouldn’t go into debt for a bio-baby. We set a limit of 3 IVF procedures and said if that didn’t work then we would move on to adoption.

The financial part has been stressful but we had previously saved up for it. I’ve seen other lesbian couples put $20K-$40K on a credit card for treatments with the end childless result and a mountain of debt.

We want a baby but feel we should bring it into this world debt free. We’re pursuing open adoption now and are confident this will result in parenthood. It’s been a difficult journey, but we hope it will have a happy ending.

plonkee December 7, 2007 at 8:52 am

I agree with the majority that it would be heartbreaking to have all that debt to pay off without a successful pregnancy to show for it.

From a strictly financial point of view, it’s not a good idea to go into debt for an adoption either, although I can see why people do it.

I think in the same vein as assisted conception, you don’t want to rack up any debt until you’re essentially guaranteed to get a child for the money. In the UK though, it’s my understanding that in-country adoption is more or less free.

Swamproot December 7, 2007 at 2:55 pm

My wife and I were in this boat. At a relatively young age after much trying to have a baby, my wife had to have a hysterectomy.

We thought long and hard about why we wanted kids in the first place. In the end, we both decided we didn’t want A baby. We wanted EACH OTHER’s baby. If we couldn’t, well then we were going to be happy with the just the two of us. We like each other so that’s a good thing. And after going through all the trouble that we did go through (no in-vetro, but several other treatments), it was hard for us to think about jumping through all the hoops to adopt a kid we might not even like in the end. 🙂

The upside though, is I get to shock people who ask nosy “when are you going to have kids” questions. My reply: “When G. grows her uterus back”. That usually shuts’em up.

Chief Family Officer December 12, 2007 at 1:26 am

Now that I have children, I know that I would absolutely go into debt to be a mom. But before then, I’m not so sure. I probably would have for one. I wouldn’t go into debt to have a second child, though.

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