What Parents Need to Know About Choosing Between Surrogacy and Adoption

When you can’t conceive on your own, you should know that you have a few options to grow your family. Adoption might be the first idea that comes to your mind, but surrogacy is another option to help you welcome a new family member. They’re not the same, though they do share some similarities. For the right couple, one or both might be a winning option.

What’s the Difference Between Surrogacy and Adoption?

People often opt for these choices due to infertility or other reproductive issues. However, these options are also viable for couples who can have their own children biologically. You and your partner should look into the many differences, as well as the pros and cons, of each option to make the best possible choice for growing your family.

Some people may think surrogates are only for celebrities who don’t want to be pregnant, but surrogates are realistic options for so many more couples. Surrogates tend to help couples that are on the older side than those who are not, and children born through surrogacy are often more likely to be born in multiples. However, surrogacy is not legal in some places, including in three states of the United States. Because it can be a tricky subject for many people, it might not be an option for couples in all areas.

Adoption is known as a great option for many couples and might be more accessible than surrogacy if the surrogate is not a family member of the parents. Almost 36,000 children were adopted in 2021 by families of all kinds, including married couples and single parents. Adoption typically means adopting a child not biologically related to the adoptive parents, so you don’t go through the same rounds of embryo transfer as with surrogacy.

7 Things You Need to Know Before Making the Choice

Deciding between adoption and surrogacy may not be easy. They have many similar elements, but they’re also two different options that could affect your family differently. One of the obvious differences is that surrogacy always results in you having a newborn, while adoption can be for a child of any age. However, other differences may make you choose one over the other.

1. Surrogacy Has Extra Fees

Both options involve paying high costs. You’ll likely be paying legal costs and agency fees, as well as some medical expenses. However, surrogacy comes with an extra fee — compensating the surrogate. The birth mother carrying your child needs to be paid for their time, including any sacrifices they have to make throughout the months they carry your child.

Surrogacy can cost around $150,000 per child, which is about three times the cost of adoption. Surrogates typically get paid a monthly stipend while they’re carrying your baby. Compensation increases based on how experienced the surrogate is.

2. Surrogacy Means Your Baby Can Carry Your Genetics

With adoption, your child likely won’t have any of your genetics unless you adopt a close family member. However, with gestational surrogacy, you can have your baby carry your DNA. The embryo transfer ensures the child can be biologically yours and/or your partner’s.

3. No Tax Credit With Surrogacy

Adoption can be a more affordable option, thanks to the tax credit you can receive for adopting an eligible child or adult incapable of taking care of themselves. The credit and exclusion can take care of several things, like court costs and attorney fees, that might prevent you from adopting otherwise. Surrogacy does not get these credits. Since the median living wage in the United States is around $67,000, this makes adoption a much more affordable option than surrogacy.

4. The Matching Process Differs

When you choose one of these options, you’ll get to pick out your preferences and hopefully be matched with someone who wants to match with you as well. However, in adoption, the choice ultimately lies with the child’s biological parent on whether they want to work with you and where they want to place their baby.

Alternatively, with surrogates, the process is a bit more mutual. You can look through the list of prospective surrogate parents and choose one you like, and they’ll be able to express interest in working with you. Then, you and the surrogate can get to know each other a bit more before moving forward.

5. Surrogacy Can Take Longer

With both options, you’ll have to undergo a waiting process that might test your patience at times. However, this process is necessary to match you with the best person possible and can be well worth the wait. Surrogacy comes with a few other trials, though: the embryo transfers.

Sometimes, an embryo transfer doesn’t take right away. Your surrogate may need to go through several rounds of in vitro fertilization before an embryo takes, which means that surrogacy might take much longer than you thought and does not have a reliable timeline.

6. The Legality Happens at Different Times

One huge difference between surrogacy and adoption is when the rights are transferred to the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents have little control over the adoption process because the birth parent retains rights until after the baby is born. At that time, the birth parent will terminate their rights and sign them over to the adoptive parents.

In surrogacy, the child belongs to the adoptive parents before the process even truly begins. You’ll sign the contracts before the embryo transfer process. Surrogates cannot change their minds and parent the child, as they have no legal — and often, no biological — claim to the child.

7. Adoptions Can Be Open

Almost 95% of adoptions are considered open adoptions, which means the biological parent of the adopted child has some form of contact with them or shares information with the adoptive parents. Open adoption is a great way to have your child get to know and have a relationship with their birth parent. Open surrogacies can happen, though it might be uncommon. Open surrogacies allow for the adoptive parents to remain in contact with the surrogate. However, the surrogate is not the parent in these circumstances.

Choose What Works for You

Ultimately, you know your household and finances best. Adoption is, undeniably, more affordable than surrogacy, unless you know your surrogate personally and will not have to pay them a stipend. However, with both options, you have other fees to consider, as well as how long the process may take or how easy it might be. Over time, you should come to a solution that works best for your personal situation.

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