It’s a question that many prospective parents ask themselves when they decide to start a family: “Should we grow our family through surrogacy or adoption?”
Certainly, there is a lot to consider when deciding between these two options. Both result in life’s most precious gift, but the journeys of getting there are vastly different.
This article is not intended to push you one way or another; its purpose is to highlight the 10 biggest differences of surrogacy vs. adoption and equip you with information to help you make the best decision for your family. Let’s get started:
In Gestational Surrogacy…
1. There is a planned pregnancy
Probably the biggest difference between surrogacy and adoption is that one involves a planned pregnancy while the other involves an unplanned pregnancy.
This affects every aspect of the process, including the legal work that is required, the support that social workers provide, the types of interactions that you share with the surrogate or birth mother, and the types of expenses that are required to bring your baby home.
2. The intended parents may be related to their child
For many prospective families, being genetically related to their child is very important to them and is a major reason why they choose surrogacy.
However, it is also common for the child to be genetically related to only one of his or her parents. These scenarios would require one of the intended parents’ egg or sperm and a donor’s genetic materials to satisfy the other requirement.
3. The surrogate mother is not related to the child
The difference between a gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy is the genetic relationship between the surrogate and baby. Gestational surrogacy does not use the surrogate’s egg, and she becomes pregnant through an embryo transfer, using a combination of the intended parents and/or donor’s genetic materials.
Using a gestational surrogate, as opposed to a traditional surrogate or birth mother, very much simplifies the process legally, emotionally and logistically for everyone involved.
4. Surrogates are compensated
Because surrogacy is a planned pregnancy, in which surrogates sacrifice their time, health and short-term goals, surrogates are compensated by intended parents. Surrogates often receive base compensation, varying based on their experience level with surrogacy, as well as a monthly allowance to cover items such as maternity clothes, travel expenses, and more.
In adoption, laws prohibit birth mothers from financially benefitting from an adoption plan. However, depending on their state’s laws, birth mothers may receive living expenses to pay for rent/mortgage, groceries, cell phone, and more – but unlike surrogates, they do not receive base compensation to do with as they wish.
5. Intended parents usually pay more than adoptive parents
A successful adoption requires a variety of fees, including program fees, advertising expenses, legal fees, living expenses, and all of the medical expenses found in a normal pregnancy. A successful surrogacy requires many of these same fees, but also includes surrogate compensation and embryo transfer expenses.
These additional expenses may increase the price of surrogacy by as much as twice the cost of an adoption, and sometimes even more.
6. Intended parents choose a surrogate
When working with an adoption agency, adoptive parents get to choose the types of adoption situations they are seeking, including race of the baby, contact with the birth parents, social and medical backgrounds, and more. Once a birth mother who matches the adoptive family’s adoption plan selects them, they are usually locked into that match.
In surrogacy, the matching process is a little different. Intended parents will be presented with surrogate profiles of women who match their preferences and budget. Intended parents will then select the surrogate who best matches their surrogacy plan. If there is mutual interest from the surrogate, they will then become matched and may get to know one another before signing contracts.
7. The wait for a match is dramatically shorter
Finding a birth mother is often one of the most challenging parts of the adoption process, simply because there aren’t very many women considering placing their babies for adoption. Adoptive parents can wait for months and even years before they find a match with a birth mother.
In surrogacy, however, the roles are often reversed as there may be more surrogates waiting to find intended parents.
Therefore, intended parents can usually find a match with a surrogate soon after they are screened by their surrogacy professional.
8. There are no tax credits available
Adoptive families benefit from their adoption during tax season with the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which currently allows for a maximum of $13,190 in non-refundable credit.
Surrogacy does not offer a similar tax credit. However, certain expenses may be deducted come tax season, particularly if either or both intended parents a) are the egg or sperm donor, and b) incur medical expenses for the year in excess 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income. If these conditions are met, IVF expenses, lab fees, doctor appointments, medications and more may be deducted.
Surrogacy and taxes remain a bit of a gray area, so be sure to consult a tax specialist for more information.
9. The desire for post-birth contact isn’t as strong
In modern day adoptions, open contact arrangements between birth mothers and adoptive families are becoming increasingly common. Picture and letter updates are exchanged in nearly 90 percent of all domestic adoptions, and emails, social media, phone calls, and visits are all options as well.
Clearly, most birth mothers want some contact with the adoptive family and child after the adoption and well into the future. However, in gestational surrogacy, it isn’t quite the same.
Gestational surrogates are often interested in staying in touch with intended parents after the surrogacy is completed, but not to the extent of birth mothers or traditional surrogates. In gestational surrogacy, there are often many more surrogates who are comfortable with not receiving any updates once the surrogacy process is over.
10. There is often more control and fewer surprises
The domestic adoption process can be a little bit stressful on adoptive parents because they simply don’t have full control over the situation. They may wonder: “What if the birth mother changes her mind?” “What if the birth father contests the adoption?” “Is the birth mother receiving regular prenatal treatment?” “Is she taking care of herself and our baby?”
Remember, these are common thoughts by adoptive parents, and most adoption agencies have safeguards to protect them from any of these scenarios. However, these feelings can still persist.
Regardless, in surrogacy, intended parents do have much more control over the situation. Often times, the only concern is whether the embryo transfer and pregnancy will be successful. Most everything else in the surrogacy process has already been planned and is legally binding, so very few surprises should occur.
If you are debating between surrogacy and adoption, our surrogacy specialists are available to help you with this decision. They are equally knowledgeable about adoption as they are about surrogacy, so if you have any questions about either, contact us today!