How to Choose Between Surrogacy and Adoption [A Guide for Hopeful Parents]

What is better: Adoption or surrogacy? Our opinion is that they’re equal paths to parenthood. One isn’t “better” than the other. Rather, when deciding between surrogacy or adoption, one will feel like the right path for you. It’s up to you to decide which is right for your family, based on your individual needs and desires!

We’ll be here to help you complete your adoption or surrogacy journey, no matter what you choose. Contact us to begin your journey to parenthood, whether that’s adoption or surrogacy.

We know that a large part of your decision will be affected by the differences of adoption vs. surrogacy. Here’s what you need to know about surrogacy, adoption, and the factors that may help you decide which path to parenthood is right for you.

Understanding the Difference Between Surrogacy and Adoption

For most hopeful parents, the decision to pursue adoption or surrogacy comes down to the differences between surrogacy and adoption. The four biggest differences between surrogacy and adoptions are:

1. Planned vs. Unplanned Pregnancy

Adoption involves an unplanned pregnancy. Surrogacy involves a carefully planned pregnancy.

2. Genetics

In surrogacy, one or both of the intended parents may have the option to share a genetic tie with the child. Unless it’s a kinship adoption, adopted children typically aren’t biologically related to the adoptive parents.

3. Control

There are going to be uncontrollable factors and unknowns in either option. Conceiving and giving birth to a child in a “traditional” manner will also always involve some unknowns, for that matter. There is no way to completely control the experience of becoming a parent.

That being said, there is more control in gestational surrogacy than there is in adoption. Here are a few examples:

  • In surrogacy, the intended parents and surrogate create a legal contract. In adoption, there is no such agreement, and the child may not ultimately be placed with that adoptive family — the biological mother may change her mind about adoption, or a child may be reunited with their biological family after time in a foster care placement.
  • In adoption, there may be little to no information about prenatal care or family health history, whereas surrogates and gamete donors submit to careful medical screening.
  • In surrogacy, the intended parents choose the woman who carries their baby and often choose whose gametes are used in the IVF process. In private domestic adoption, it’s the pregnant woman who chooses the adoptive family she wants her child to have.

To some degree, a lack of control is inevitable in any family-building method. However, surrogacy and adoption do offer different types of control over the creation of your family.

4. Cost

For many families, one of the most important factors to consider is the adoption vs. surrogacy cost analysis. Common questions about the cost of surrogacy vs. adoption often include:

“What costs more: Adoption or surrogacy?” Surrogacy costs more than adoption, typically. Here’s a helpful breakdown of the costs associated with surrogacy, although the exact amounts will vary widely based on your situation and needs.

“Is it cheaper to adopt or have a surrogate?” The total costs of adoption are usually less than the total costs of surrogacy. However, the total cost of adoption will vary widely depending on the type of adoption you choose — the process of adopting a child from foster care typically costs very little, while the international adoption process can become very costly.

“How much do surrogates cost vs. adoption?” Most gestational surrogates do receive some amount of compensation, although this will vary. In private domestic adoption, a large percentage of the total expenses paid by the adoptive family go toward covering the birth mother’s pregnancy- and adoption-related expenses.

Both options can be costly. The cost of adoption vs. surrogacy can, sadly, be prohibitive for some families, but these costs are not arbitrary — they’re there for important reasons. No matter what, we’ll be here to offer guidance on affording your family-building journey, including referrals to grants, fundraising tips and more.


Weighing Surrogacy vs. Adoption: Pros and Cons

Ultimately, the pros and cons of surrogacy vs. adoption are going to be subjective to each individual. What one person may consider a deal-breaker may not be important to someone else. That being said, we’ll offer some of the commonly cited drawbacks and benefits of surrogacy vs. adoption, and let you weigh the potential advantages of each option based on your priorities:

Advantages of Adoption Over Surrogacy

Why choose adoption over surrogacy? Here are three potential pros of adoption:

  • Adoption is sometimes the faster option, depending on the type of adoption, whether or not you work with an agency, and other variables.
  • Adoption can be a mutually beneficial experience — children receive a home and family, birth parents don’t have to raise a child they feel unable to provide for, and adoptive parents can grow their family and experience parenthood.

Advantages of Surrogacy Over Adoption

Why choose surrogacy over adoption? Here are three potential pros of gestational surrogacy:

  • Surrogacy usually gives the intended parents greater control — they can choose who the child is biologically related to, who carries the baby, etc.
  • Surrogacy is sometimes the faster option, depending on the type of adoption you compare it to, whether or not you work with an agency, and other variables in the surrogacy process.
  • Surrogacy is more predictable. Although there will always still be some unknowns (how long it takes to find the right match, how long it takes for a successful embryo transfer, etc.) there are fewer unknowns in surrogacy compared to adoption.

In many ways, it’s difficult to compare adoption and surrogacy — they’re different but equally wonderful ways to grow a family. No matter which of the two options you choose, we will be there to guide you through the process. We have years of experience with the legal processes of adoption and surrogacy in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Still debating gestational surrogacy vs. adoption? Contact us now to learn more about each option — we can help you determine the right fit for your family.

“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax