Surrogacy and adoption are both making headlines in popular news, in no small part due to Hollywood's ongoing baby boom.
Still, while both surrogacy and adoption are legitimate paths to creating a family, both paths come 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. This is important for gay couples or women with a history of infertility to continue to have a child of their own.
One common concern for parents is the cost associated with surrogacy. In the United States, services can average around $100,000. ConceiveAbilities encourages intended parents to prepare for an average cost that ranges from $98,000 to $140,000, depending on each family’s situation. Keep in mind that this estimate includes the fee paid to the agency, the surrogate mother's fee, 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.
While this may seem expensive, there are various loan and financing options available. The intended parents’ chosen surrogacy agency is an excellent place to start looking. ConceiveAbilities offers financing options through Prosper Healthcare Lending, a premier healthcare financing provider offering terms with rates comparable to those of a second mortgage. Prosper is also used by a variety of other large surrogacy agencies as well.
MedicalFinancing.com is a company offering specialized loans of up to $30,000, which can be put toward the costs of having a child via surrogacy arrangement.
Be aware of how state laws differ. 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.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.