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Rebuilding Paradise

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Marketplace
Episode 20
Oct 24, 2019

Sperm, baby, sperm

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Two couples won a chance at pregnancy, but money has complicated their journeys to build a family in different ways.

One night, back in March, two Houston-area couples each won a vial of sperm.

To be clear, they weren’t walking away with a vial on ice; it was more like a voucher. So when each couple was ready to go through an intrauterine insemination procedure, they’d get to choose a sperm donor from the bank’s database and get their first vial for free.

That was a big deal for Victoria Montanez Roberts and Lucille Roberts, one of the couples. They spent around $5,000 having their first son via IUI, with sperm accounting for some 20% of that. And the procedure, which has about a 20% success rate, is considered affordable compared to in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and adoption.

Regardless of how you conceive, having a child is a crazy-complicated decision. For a lot of people who want kids, but aren’t in the best financial shape, it can be overwhelming and anxiety inducing. And for people who can’t conceive through sex, those hard calculations come up front. 

Malkia and Nick Hutchinson-Arvizu (William Chambers/Marketplace)

We’ve spent six months following the Roberts family and the other couple that won sperm, Malkia and Nick Hutchinson-Arvizu. After that night, money made each of their journeys toward growing their family uniquely complicated.

Everyone’s experience is different, and the expensive, imperfect process of having a child is one we want to keep exploring. So tell us: What sorts of difficult choices have you faced when building a family, and what does “making it work” look like for you? Let us know via the form below.









The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Producer
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