For hopeful parents who can’t conceive on their own, the question of surrogacy vs. adoption is a pretty common one. Both offer different benefits and challenges, so it’s important to fully understand both processes before you decide which one is best for your family.

The best way to learn more about surrogacy and adoption is to talk to the professionals — in this case, American Adoptions and American Surrogacy. They can answer your questions in full detail and help you determine what might be right for you.

Every family is different, and there’s no “right” way to create your family — just the right way for you. Here are some of the basics you should know when you’re considering surrogacy and adoption, including the differences and similarities between the two options.

  1. Genetic Relationship

Many intended parents have dreams of children who are biologically related to them, and surrogacy provides that opportunity. With gestational surrogacy, a heterosexual couple can use their sperm and egg to create an embryo that’s related to both of them (same-sex couples or single parents can use donor gametes). Adoption does not provide this opportunity, unless you complete a relative adoption.

In adoption, the baby is related to the woman who is carrying him or her but, in surrogacy, the surrogate is not. Therefore, both processes require different legal steps and have different emotional complications for those involved.

  1. Cost

Both surrogacy and adoption are expensive processes, although surrogacy is the more expensive of the two. While individual circumstances play a large role in determining these costs, adoption costs an average of $40,000 and surrogacy costs an average of $75,000. Both in surrogacy and in adoption, intended parents pay for the prospective birth mother or surrogate’s pregnancy-related expenses, but in surrogacy, intended parents must also provide additional base compensation for the surrogate (usually around $25,000).

Both adoption and surrogacy require intended parents to think hard about how they can finance their parenthood processes. While there are certain tax credits available for adoption, surrogacy does not offer as much — only potential tax deductions for IVF processes.

  1. Planning and Control

One of the biggest differences between surrogacy and adoption is the amount of control involved for the intended parents. A surrogate pregnancy is always planned, while usually a prospective birth mother’s pregnancy is unplanned — so how intended parents are involved in their child’s in-utero development greatly varies.

In surrogacy, intended parents are involved every step of the way — through the IVF medical processes, at their surrogate’s doctor’s appointments and at the birth of their child. A surrogacy contract outlines each party’s expectations throughout the process, and there is never any doubt about who will take the baby home after they’re born.

In adoption, intended parents must be prepared for uncertainty. A prospective birth mother can always change her mind at any point in the process and, while she will receive all the prenatal care she needs once she connects with an adoption professional, she may not have received the proper care beforehand. A prospective birth mother is the one that choose a waiting family, and intended parents must be prepared for circumstances that are beyond their control.

While both surrogacy and adoption come with unique challenges, they are also both viable ways for intended parents to grow their family. These are just some of the basics you should know about the processes, but there’s a lot more to understand before you decide what’s best for you. We recommend calling the professionals at American Adoptions (1-800-ADOPTION) and American Surrogacy (1-800-874-BABY) to talk to a specialist in detail about your personal situation. While you are ultimately the only one who can decide what process is right for you and your family, gathering all the information you can will be immensely helpful in this decision process.