Families begin in many different ways. While some of those stories start on a happy note, others take a different path. It’s estimated that one in every eight American women will face a diagnosis of infertility. This news can be devastating, but it doesn’t end the dream of a family.

If hopeful parents are unable to have a child biologically — due to infertility or for other reasons, like in the case of LGTBQ couples — there are several family-building options they can consider. Two of the most common routes hopeful parents will consider are adoption and surrogacy.

While many people may be vaguely familiar with these ideas, most are not equipped with enough information to make a decision between the two. We’re here to help. If you are considering starting your family through adoption or surrogacy, we want to give you an unbiased, side-by-side comparison.

Each family’s situation is totally unique. What works for one couple probably won’t work for another. That’s why there’s no wrong choice here. Only you will know what makes the most sense for you.

Adoption and Surrogacy: An Honest Comparison

Father putting his baby to sleepWhile adoption and surrogacy are both family-building options, the two differ in several key areas. Here are the highlights that explain the differences:

Biological Relationship: In most adoptions, the adoptive parents will not have any biological relation to the child. In surrogacy, at least one of the intended parents’ gametes is typically used in the IVF process, establishing a biological connection to the child. Neither of these options is inherently better than the other. Many parents and children who have experienced adoption will tell you that family is much more than biology. However, hopeful parents should choose the option that is personally suited for their journey.

Cost: Adoption and surrogacy both have fees associated with the process. There are legal, medical, administrative and logistical requirements, and these do build up in cost. Between the two, surrogacy is generally a more expensive process than adoption.

Legal Process: Each of these two options is governed by a set of laws and regulations. Here, we are focusing on one specific legal element: the contract. In adoption, there is no contract between prospective birth parents and adoptive parents. This means that prospective birth parents can reconsider. Although it is rare, it is called an “adoption disruption” when this does occur. Surrogacy, on the other hand, does involve a contract between the intended parents and the surrogate. This contract is legally binding and secure.

The Pros of Adoption and Surrogacy

Wait, did we forget the “and cons” up there? No, we didn’t. Adoption and surrogacy each have a lot of positives. Depending on the situation you are in, you will likely find one set of positives more important than the other. Families are built in many different ways, and there’s no wrong choice here. Rather than focus on any potential negatives, here are the advantages that hopeful parents may experience from both adoption and surrogacy.

Pros of Adoption

  • Adoption is a beautiful way to form a family. This may seem somewhat ambiguous, but that is only because things this important are difficult to describe. Countless adoptive parents will recount how adoption changed their life, shifted their perspective and gave them new meaning.
  • The cost associated with the adoption process is lower than that of surrogacy. While both options can still be expensive, this is a major factor for many hopeful parents.

Pros of Surrogacy

  • The intended parents have complete control over the surrogacy process. In adoption, the prospective birth mother is able to make her own choices, which takes some control out of the hands of hopeful parents. Surrogacy gives intended parents the ability to shape the process how they want to.
  • There are typically less restrictions in surrogacy than adoption. While some surrogacy plans may take longer than others, there are likely to be less unexpected requirements or time-consuming regulations than the adoption process.

The ultimate “pro” of either adoption or surrogacy is, of course, the beginning of a family. For the thousands of hopeful parents in America who are unable to start a family biologically, adoption or surrogacy is a beautiful way to turn a dream into a reality.

If you are considering adoption and would like to speak with an adoption specialist, you can call 1-800-ADOPTION at any time. If you are considering surrogacy, you can always contact our sister agency, American Surrogacy.