Surrogacy and adoption are both making headlines in popular news, as fertility rates continue to decline in developed countries.
Both surrogacy and adoption are paths to creating a family, each with their own sets of considerations that parents need to be aware of.
There are two types of surrogacy, traditional surrogacy and gestational surrogacy. With traditional surrogacy, a traditional surrogate uses her own eggs to create a child that is carried for another woman. Gestational surrogacy uses donated embryos which do not use the surrogate's eggs. Typically, the embryo is the genetic offspring of the intended parents. In most countries, traditional surrogacy has been all but replaced by gestational surrogacy, which first saw implementation in 1986.
Surrogacy allows for a genetic link between the parents and the child. Unlike adoption, surrogacy allows one or both parents to use their sperm or eggs to create a biologically related child. For gay couples, women with a history of infertility, and many others, this can be an important priority.
One common consideration for parents is the cost associated with surrogacy. In the United States, services can average around $140,000 and more. Keep in mind that this estimate includes the fee paid to the agency, the surrogate's compensation, and travel and legal expenses for both the intended parents and surrogate. This link details those fees in full, and provides a fee schedule for a typical journey.
Be aware of how state laws differ. For instance, in Illinois, gestational surrogacy is legal and protected under the Gestational Surrogacy Act, but in Michigan, surrogacy is forbidden and can lead to a $50,000 fine or a prison sentence of up to five years. Some states, like Alaska, Minnesota, and Massachusetts, have no specific laws in place, but courts are typically favorable toward surrogacy. Mississippi does not permit surrogacy for gay couples.
Adoption gives children in need of a home the chance to be raised by a loving family. Similar to surrogacy, there are also two types of adoption: open adoption, which allows ID and health information to be openly shared between adoptive and biological parents, and closed adoption, which is a confidential agreement that keeps biological identities secret.
Adoption can be cheaper, though costs vary widely. It can cost up to $50,000, depending on where a child is adopted from – and legal proceedings necessary to secure parentage. A voluntary adoption of a newborn through a non-profit adoption agency will usually cost between $10,000 and $25,000, while an attorney adoption of a newborn will run slightly higher – between $20,000 and $30,000.
Foster care heavily favors reunification. Every year, more than 287,000 children leave foster care, but more than half are reunified with their parents. Reunification doesn’t occur uniformly either, and in some states it can be as high as 76%. This can be problematic for foster parents that want to adopt because they must accept the emotional risk with the possibility of the child returning to the biological parents.
Families looking to adopt are given the lowest priority. Once a child is in the states’ care, extended families are the first contacts for a prospective adoptive family. If the extended family is unavailable, the foster family is given the first option to adopt. When the foster family does not want to adopt, only then can families who are not foster parents be contacted.
Mom.me weighs many of the practical, as well as emotional concerns in this well-thought-out article. This work compares the practices of adoption and surrogacy across a variety of considerations.
And, are you a woman who enjoyed a healthy and successful pregnancy? Do you have friends or family who have suffered from infertility or need assistance from someone else to build their family? Have you ever considered the role you could play in helping someone else build their family - as a surrogate? Learn more about the process of helping someone else's dream of building a family come true. We would love to talk with you.