Adoption vs Surrogacy

Adoption vs. Surrogacy

When looking to grow your family unconventionally, you could take several viable routes. Surrogacy and adoption are the two most popular options. If you are a prospective parent, chances are you’ve considered both options. Both options lead to the same result, but the road leading to them is unique. While they share similarities, they also have differences one has to consider. There are various reasons one may decide on adoption or surrogacy. Single parents or people who cannot conceive can benefit from either option.

As mentioned earlier, the path to parenthood looks different for everyone. Each road has its distinctive experience, challenges, rewards, and advantages. None of the routes is easy, but each leads to the desired end. It is important to weigh both and decide which works best for you. 

Our Pick

You may wonder which route to take to parenthood, adoption, or surrogacy. However, deciding based on your particular situation or circumstance is best. Certain peculiar circumstances might make surrogacy your best option, while others might favor adoption. While the results are similar, the road isn’t. Potential parents must consider all options to see what suits them. However, we do not decide which is the best fit for them. Adoption and surrogacy are two rewarding options with beautiful journeys and similar results.

Understanding Adoption

In the adoption process, the birth parent(s) relinquish all legal rights to a child to the adoptive parents. A concept that has existed for centuries, adoption allows a child to retain full genetic links to his or her birth family. However, they become full and legal members of the adoptive family. Adoption has been the most popular option for couples who cannot conceive or single people longing to start a family.

A mother can decide to give up her child for adoption for various reasons. An unexpected pregnancy or inability to care for the child are the most common reasons. A court can also revoke a birth parent’s parental right due to abuse, neglect, or lack of a conducive environment.

Adoption can be domestic, where the adoptive and birth parents are in the same country. It can also be international, where adoptive parents get a child from another country. Additionally, adoption can happen through the foster care route. In the foster care case, the court must terminate the birth parent’s rights voluntarily or involuntarily. Adoption can also be done through an adoption agency or independently.

Statistics show that Americans adopt over 135,000 children every year. Many of these children are from the foster care system, a different ethnicity, or with same-sex couples. The process allows for either an open or closed adoption. Open adoption is more ethical as it provides contact between the child and the birth parent(s). The adoptive parents can decide the level of communication, from the exchange of letters to phone calls or in-person meet-ups. Reach out to an adoption professional if you want to determine if it is right for you.

Understanding Surrogacy

Surrogate Mother

The concept of surrogacy has grown and evolved through the years. Recently, technological advancements have made it easier to go through the process with a higher level of certainty. People who cannot conceive for biological reasons and want to maintain a genetic connection to their child commonly consider surrogacy.

Surrogacy is when another woman carries a child for someone who will be the child’s birth parents. The woman who agrees to have the child to term is called a surrogate, while the parents are called the “intended parents.”

This process is also called gestational surrogacy. The surrogate mother is typically not related to the child but becomes pregnant through an embryo transfer. The embryo contains one or both of the intended parent’s genetic material, thus making the baby biologically theirs. Having this biological connection makes the surrogacy and legal processes easier. In addition, it tends to give the intended parents more control and certainty about the process. Many see gestational surrogacy as more ethical, as opposed to traditional surrogacy.

In surrogacy, the matching process is a mutual one. Intended parents can choose from a profile the woman they want to carry their baby. Furthermore, they meet with the person, establish bonds, and determine if they are comfortable with their choice. You can plan parenthood through surrogacy either independently or through an agency. 

Similarities Between Adoption and Surrogacy

Adoption and surrogacy are popular routes people take to parenthood. Looking at their similarities may help some people make the right decision.

  • Ethical Pathways to Parenthood

Adoption and surrogacy are both ethical routes to having a baby. Both options follow due legal processes that ensure that every party is protected at every step. With adoption, the birth mother is given time to make a final decision postnatally. Similarly, in surrogacy, the intended parents and the surrogate sign a mutual agreement before proceeding. In addition, many agencies promote open adoption, where the birth parent(s) can maintain contact with the child. Also, in surrogacy, both parties can decide mutually whether the surrogate can have further contact with the child.

  • Age-Long Practices

Surrogacy and adoption are practices that date back to the 1900s. Many people date surrogacy back to the Bible days. However, in 1985, the first case of gestational surrogacy set a precedent for modern surrogacy laws. Similarly,  adoption has been part of human history. It was not uncommon for parents to send their children to another family that could take better care of them. Through the years, however, the stigma of adoption wanes as adoption laws crop up. Modern adoption laws protect the adoptive parents and the adoptee, which didn’t happen before 1951.

Surrogate Mother

Differences Between Adoption and Surrogacy

Though both processes are similar, they also have distinguishing features that typically form the basis of one’s choice.

  • Genetics

Many prospective parents consider this one of the most important factors when deciding. Gestational surrogacy is an excellent option if you feel strongly about having biological and genetic ties to your child. Surrogacy involves IVF, which requires one or both of the intended parent’s genetic materials. In other cases, it could involve a donor’s genetic material. Either way, the surrogate has no biological ties to the unborn baby. Due to this, gestational surrogacy has become popular for those who want a biological connection to their child. In addition, when one of the parents has a genetic link to the child, the legal processes become smoother.

Conversely, in adoption, the child will share traits with their birth family. This is not ideal for many who want that genetic connection with their child. The bond between the biological mother and child can cause hitches during adoption. Firstly, precedence is always given to the biological mother, except in cases where a court revokes her rights. Thus, the biological mother has a right to change her mind after birth and keep her child. This often disappoints many intended parents as the court will likely  favor the biological mother in a dispute.

  • Matching Process

The matching process of both surrogacy and adoption differ significantly in many cases. In surrogacy, the matching process is a mutual one. The potential surrogate and the intended parents must complete a profile shared with surrogates matching their requirements. In turn, the surrogates also get to decide if they are comfortable with the profile of the intended parents. A meeting is set up if all goes well, and both parties can study one another. Both parties must then agree to the terms of surrogacy before making any further moves.

On the other hand, the matching process in many adoption cases is rather one-sided. The potential adoptive parents have to specify any preferences such as age, race, medical history, post-placement contact, and others. Ultimately, the birth mother makes the final decision without much input from the potential adoptive parents. Due to the matching process, adoptive parents tend to wait much longer to find a match. However, the wait time for surrogacy is much shorter as the agreement is mutual.

  • Cost Implications

The cost of surrogacy is significantly higher than adoption due to specific fees peculiar to the process. Surrogacy involves a third party, the surrogate, for which the intended parents must compensate. The embryo transfer process can also be costlier than couples using their sperm and egg. In addition, if the surrogate has to do multiple rounds of IVF, you can expect the surrogacy cost to get higher. Other additional surrogacy costs may include a monthly allowance, childcare costs, travel fees, lost wages due to complications, and maternity clothes.

A surrogate typically receives between $30,000 – $60,000 as a base compensation fee. In total, surrogacy costs can run up to $100,000. Sometimes, undergoing an independent surrogacy journey can lower these costs slightly. However, a surrogacy agency can make the process easier. In addition, if a couple donates their egg and sperm, they may get tax coverage for those medical expenses.

Adoption costs vary according to the type of adoption; domestic, international, or foster care adoption. The law prevents birth mothers from receiving monetary compensation; thus, adoption fees are lower. Typically, domestic adoption through an agency costs $20,000 – $30,000, while international costs $25,000 – $50,000. Agency fees, travel costs, background checks, and medical and legal fees comprise most of the expenses. In contrast, adoption through the foster care system may cost hundreds of dollars. Usually, that cost should cover some legal fees and home study. Adoption may also qualify you for tax credit during the process.

  • Legal Process

In gestational surrogacy, the intended parents and surrogate must sign the contract that guides the process early. Since the surrogate has no genetic link to the baby, she has no right to the baby after it is born. All obligations must be fully understood and the contract signed before the process begins. Thus, the intended parents can become legal parents before the child’s birth. This is unlike adoption, where the birth mother only relinquishes her rights after the child is born. Thus, the prospective birth mother has a right to change her mind and keep the baby.

  • Prenatal Care and Screening

In surrogacy, prenatal care and mother screening are crucial aspects. The surrogate must go through thorough screening before and during the process. Prenatal care during that time is top-notch and compulsory. The surrogate is limited to certain activities to ensure her and the baby’s safety. The surrogate usually keeps the intended parents in the loop concerning her doctor’s visits. The intended parents may also be present for her checks and delivery.

Prenatal care and screening are not so thorough in adoption. Sometimes, birth mothers do not disclose their drug history for fear of scaring off potential adoptive parents. The law does not require the birth mother to receive prenatal care, although she should reveal if she’s received any. In addition, birth mothers rarely give screening details to potential adoptive parents, nor are they present for the delivery.

  • Medical Process

The medical process in surrogacy is more extensive than in adoption. The surrogacy journey involves a planned pregnancy, while adoption is typically unplanned. The medical process in surrogacy is complex and extensive. Typically, it consists of an egg retrieval process from the intended mother and an embryo transfer process to the surrogate.

Man With Baby

Final Thoughts

When choosing to start a family through adoption or surrogacy, there is a lot to consider. Every family has a different or unique situation that favors either option. Weigh the pros and cons and let that be a yardstick to making a decision. Ultimately, either choice leads you to a happy family.

Surrogacy is a journey that suits hopeful parents who want genetic ties to their children. The surrogacy process, though costlier, has a lesser matching time. This is because the agreement is mutual, and every step of the process is planned. Furthermore, contracts and laws protect the surrogacy agreement from the onset. Conversely, adoption is a fine option if you’re not particular about bearing genetic ties to your child. It is less expensive but rewarding. Although adoptive parents have less control over the process, it is still a common choice for many. Ultimately, this guide educates you on choosing surrogacy or adoption, but the final decision remains up to you.

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