Surrogacy vs. Adoption – What is the right choice for you?

You’re ready to go that next step and talk about your options for growing a family. Whatever has led you to this point, it is a big decision to decide the best way for your family to grow – the cost and the time to do so is substantial, and it’s hard to know what the best route for your family is.

Generally, there are two ways to create a family if traditional family building isn’t possible or desired: surrogacy or adoption.

Gestational surrogacy is when a woman carries and delivers a baby that isn’t biologically related to her for another person or couple. The embryo with which the surrogate is pregnant could be a donated embryo, or could be an embryo made from the intended parent’s sperm or eggs and/or donors’ sperm and eggs. Surrogacy is often done through an agency (though the parties are allowed to do it independent of an agency), and involves legal contracts and medical procedures for the surrogate and possibly for the parents, if their eggs/sperm are used. Surrogacy costs can run from $90,000 to over $150,000 depending on whether the intended parents can use their own sperm and/or eggs or need to have them donated.

Adoption is when a person or couple becomes the legal guardian and parent of a child born to another person who is not able to care for that child. Adoption is also often accomplished through an agency, and many states have laws that only allow adoptions to happen through agencies (Colorado is one of them). Adoption also involves legal contracts and costs. Adoption costs for a newborn can run from $25,000 to $40,000 through an agency, or even up to $50,000 through an attorney. Adopting a child who is older can potentially cost less if that child is coming from a County Foster or Adopt program.

Adoption is a beautiful process that allows mothers pregnant with a baby they are unable to care for the opportunity to help a good family have the opportunity to have a baby. Adoption allows loving and eager adoptive parents the chance to have a child to love and care for. Adoption also gives children who are already in the foster care system the chance to be with a forever family and bring joy to a family who desperately wants a child. Some adoptive parents also choose adoption because they believe it is better environmentally.

However, there are drawbacks to adoption, the primary reason being that adoptions can fall through. For one reason or another, the person putting the child up for adoption changes her mind, and is within her rights to do so. After all, it is her child – even though another family may have been eagerly awaiting to be parents to that child. Another possible drawback with adoption is not always knowing the family history of the child being adopted, which can exacerbate health problems.

The cost of surrogacy is generally higher than the cost of adoption, but there are benefits of surrogacy that appeal to some looking to create a family. With a surrogacy, there is no possibility that the person carrying the child (the surrogate) can change her mind about relinquishing the child to the intended parents (you hear stories about it, but it’s actually incredibly rare). The legal contracts created for a surrogacy specifically provide for the intended parents to be the parents listed on the birth certificate (at least in states with legal systems friendly to surrogacy, like Colorado). There is no way for the woman who birthed the child to take the child with her if she isn’t on the birth certificate.

In addition, surrogates become gestational carriers specifically to have a baby for someone else, and often do not even want to add children to their own families. Surrogates already have their own child or children and are much more interested in delivering a child to the parents because they want to help families who aren’t able to have babies on their own. Surrogates are also fairly compensated for their work in being the caretaker to the intended parents’ fetus. Finally, many families who choose surrogacy do so because they wish to have a biological child.

There are drawbacks to surrogacy as well. Surrogacy is high cost, and that cost can increase if things don’t go perfectly the first time. Sometimes the relationship between the surrogate and the intended parents falls through (which is why an agency can be a big help in making sure thing go smoothly), or sometimes the embryos created by the intended parents don’t end up being viable. These things can increase the cost of an already costly process. Finally, surrogacy isn’t as common as adoption and there are some strange misconceptions about it that can be uncomfortable for intended parents to deal with.

There is no right answer to how a person or a couple should grow their family. But thankfully, there are options available to allow those beautiful parent-child relationships to flourish.

If you want more information on when to use a surrogate, please visit our Parents page at

If you want more information on adoption, you can start with a website like