The thought of starting or expanding a family is one most couples and even singles would love to have become a reality. However, when conception becomes a problem, couples would have to consider the right path to parenthood for them. Two of those potential paths are surrogacy and adoption.
Surrogacy and adoption are different methods of building a family that helps couples to combat infertility. These two processes have certain similarities but are also different in many ways. Knowing the best path to parenthood involves understanding the processes, pros, and cons of both surrogacy and adoption. This will help with effective decision-making. In this article, certain factors which show the differences between adoption and surrogacy will be discussed.
Adoption and surrogacy can be rewarding but they are also challenging and the processes are lengthy. Thus, deciding on which method suits a family is essential. Decision-making may depend on the following:
- the needs of the family,
- how much the intended couple is willing to spend,
- whether or not they want to share a genetic connection with the child, etc.
Adoption is often said to be a noble way of building a family. It is a process in which a couple legally takes a child who has already been born and brings up the child as their own. The couple who adopts a child takes up the responsibility of being the parents of the child. Couples may choose to adopt children locally or internationally due to differences in cost and regulations.
The assisted reproduction procedure known as surrogacy is a process that involves a process in which a woman (the surrogate) agrees to carry the child of a couple who wants to become parents. The intended parents must undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) as part of the surrogacy procedure. After the fusion of the egg and sperm, the embryo will be transferred to the surrogate’s uterus.
Certain requirements have to be meant by the surrogate before she can be accepted as part of the process. This will aid the matching process of the intended parents and the surrogate. The surrogate is then screened thoroughly and undergoes a medical and psychological evaluation. These help to determine if she is fit medically and mentally to be a surrogate. The intended parents have to be properly screened before the implantation of the embryo into the uterus of the surrogate.
There are two types of surrogacy
- Gestational Surrogacy – In the case of gestational pregnancy, the intended mother has to undergo IVF after which the egg will be retrieved through a process called egg retrieval. After the stage of egg retrieval, the eggs are fertilized in the lab by fusing them with the sperm from the sperm donor. Then, the embryos created are transferred into the surrogate’s uterus.
- Traditional Surrogacy – In this type of surrogacy, the baby is genetically related to the surrogate. The surrogate is the biological mother of the baby because she donates her eggs and uterus to conceive. Fusing the donated sperm from the sperm donor or the intended father via intrauterine insemination, a type of artificial insemination used to treat infertility facilitates fertilization. The embryo is then transferred to the surrogate’s uterus to undergo implantation. DNA is shared between the embryo and the surrogate.
Surrogacy, especially traditional surrogacy, may pose some risks to the intended parents. In the future, such a surrogate may contest the custody of the child’s care. As a result of this and other issues that may arise, traditional surrogacy is not recommended.
Factors to Consider when Deciding between Surrogacy and Adoption
Surrogacy allows the intended parents to have a genetic relationship with their child. Thus, intended parents can become emotionally connected with their children. Adoption, on the other hand, does not provide such a connection because it involves taking someone else’s child who has no genetic connection with the intended parents.
A couple opting for surrogacy tends to form a relationship with the surrogate mother during and even after the pregnancy. This relationship can sometimes last for a lifetime.
Genetic background and heritage
Couples who go for gestational surrogacy need not be afraid of genetic abnormalities that may develop. This is because they can easily trace back such occurrences down their family tree with the help of a geneticist. In the case of adoption, this may not be an easy task since some of these children were abandoned by their biological parents. Hence, obtaining information about the child’s heritage and genetic background is usually difficult.
Surrogacy allows intended parents to experience their child’s pregnancy and birthing journey. They also get to participate in every doctor’s appointment and ultrasound of the surrogate. With adoption, intended parents do not get to experience the birth of their child.
Adopting a child involves going for pre-adoption classes but this does not apply to surrogacy. In the preparatory classes, intended parents are taught about the process of adoption, what to expect, and the types of children that need adoption. For surrogacy, intended parents do not have to attend preparatory classes before or after the child is born.
Certain legal restrictions such as the prohibition of unmarried or single parents from adopting are avoided when opting for surrogacy.
Several processes are involved during surrogacy. From the medical processes such as IVF to the legal processes, all parties involved in the process of surrogacy must be informed and ready to commit every step of the way. Intended parents must ensure they seek professional advice before embarking on the surrogacy journey. The surrogate mother has to undergo some IVF rounds to get pregnant. For adoption, the legal process permits a woman to change her mind after the child has been born. Hence, if she changes her mind, the intended parents would have to say go back to the drawing board.
A major factor that can help couples in deciding between adoption and surrogacy is the cost. The cost of a successful surrogacy can be expensive as it requires some individuals, types of surrogacy, and processes. Costs to consider include in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer, legal fees, the surrogate’s medical fees, etc. The cost of adoption is cheaper than surrogacy but may vary depending on if it is a public or private adoption. Adoption costs include counseling, legal services, etc. Prospective parents can also apply for federal grants, loans, employee benefits, and military reimbursements to cut adoption costs.
Once implantation is complete, there is usually no turning back in surrogacy. However, couples may back out of adopting a child during the waiting period in the adoption process.
Surrogacy vs. Adoption: Which is Right for Your Family?
Surrogacy and adoption are both different methods of building or expanding a family. However, deciding which is the right option for a family is a personal one that should be considered carefully. While surrogacy sometimes offers a genetic connection to the child and the opportunity for intended parents to be involved throughout the pregnancy period, adoption does not. Adoption, on the other hand, offers a child in need of a home to be legally taken in by couples. This makes such couples the legal parents of the child.
Regardless of the choice made, providing a safe and supportive environment for a child to thrive is essential. Intended parents can seek professional advice and do their research to make an informed decision that is in line with the objectives and capabilities of their family.