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LGBT Parenthood: Building the Family of Your Dreams

Julia Peloso-Barnes is a wealth advisor for Morgan Stanley.
Julia Peloso-Barnes is a wealth advisor for Morgan Stanley. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Parenthood is a life-changing event, and for the LGBT community it requires thoughtful planning.

After you’ve decided to explore adoption or surrogacy there are an array of financial and legal considerations to take into account. Individual experiences can vary widely depending on the medical provider being used and legal advice being sought out.

Here are several financial and legal factors for you and your plus one (if that is the case) to consider when building a road map to parenthood:

Financial Planning

Unconditional love is an important resource, but ensuring you have the financial assets to bring a child home with you let alone raise one is an equally important part of the parenting equation.

Start setting funds aside for the initial process, regardless of whether you choose adoption or surrogacy. Work with an Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor1 (ADPA) to build a financial plan. Adoption costs can range anywhere from $0 to $40,000 depending on public or private agency services2, whereas surrogacy costs range from $98,000 to $140,000 varying on services and fees required for each individual situation3.

Not every fertility practice lists every fee. To avoid surprises, several costs you may want to stay on top of include:

  • Donor Fees
  • Gestational Carrier Fees
  • Surrogacy Plan

Consider the following resources to offset the upfront costs involved with adoption and surrogacy:

  • Adoption Grant
  • Federal Adoption Tax Credit4
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
  • Line of Credit
  • Private or Public Health Insurance

Legal Considerations

It is highly advised that you obtain legal service throughout the adoption or surrogacy process to help you navigate the complex laws that vary state by state.

U .S. Same Sex Couple Adoption Law by State: Whether choosing public or private agency adoption it is important to know what your states non-discrimination laws in adoption are for same sex couples. Some states have protection for sexual orientation and gender identity, others have protections for sexual orientation only, and several have neither.

Co-parenting/Custody agreement: If second parent adoption is not allowed in your state of residence, you should prepare a written co-parenting or custody agreement with your partner instead. These documents answer the following questions:

  • Do parties consider themselves co-parents with shared responsibilities?
  • How will both parties share custody in the event of a separation?
  • How will both parties share child expenses (general, child-care, educational, health care, etc.)?

Surrogacy agreement: It is important to draft a binding contract between the intended parents and the surrogate prior to beginning the IVF or surrogacy process. U.S. laws governing surrogacy agreements vary by state and by individual, depending on sexual orientation. Where applicable this document helps clarify certain points such as:

  • Who will have custody of the child if something were to happen to the intended parents prior to the birth?
  • Are the intended parents the sole legal parents – removes any legal or parental rights the surrogate may have had?
  • Pre, during and post pregnancy best practices (i.e., prohibitions during surrogacy, health precautions, abortion, etc.)

Pre-birth Order: Document that lists the intended parent on the child’s birth certificate.

What was once a dream can now be your reality – remember to financially and legally prepare for your road to parenthood.


1Find an ADPA via or

2Costs of Adopting, Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2011

3Conceiveabilities, How much does surrogacy cost, accessed February 2016:

4In 2015, families with a modified adjusted gross income below $201,010 can claim full credit. Those with incomes above $241,010 cannot claim the credit; those with incomes from $201,010 to $241,010 can claim partial credit. Families who finalized in 2015 the adoption of a child who has been determined to have special needs can claim the full Federal Adoption Tax Credit, regardless of their actual adoption expenses.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact Julia A. Peloso-Barnes

The author(s) and/or publication are neither employees of nor affiliated with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC ("Morgan Stanley"). By providing this third party publication, we are not implying an affiliation, sponsorship, endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by Morgan Stanley of any information contained in the publication.

The opinions expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Morgan Stanley. The information and data in the article or publication has been obtained from sources outside of Morgan Stanley and Morgan Stanley makes no representations or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of information or data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. Neither the information provided nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation by Morgan Stanley with respect to the purchase or sale of any security, investment, strategy or product that may be mentioned.

Article by Wealth Management Systems Inc. and provided courtesy of Julia A. Peloso-Barnes, a Morgan Stanley Financial Advisor.

Julia A. Peloso-Barnes may only transact business, follow-up with individualized responses, or render personalized investment advice for compensation, in states where she is registered or excluded or exempted from

© 2016 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.

CRC 1446704 03/16

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