Surrogacy vs. Adoption: Which Is the Best Way to Grow Your Family?

by | Jul 21, 2021 | Adoptive Families Blog

Mother holds her infant daughter's handsIf you’re hoping to grow your family, you may consider multiple methods and weigh the pros and cons of surrogacy vs. adoption. Adoption and surrogacy are two very different roads that both lead to fulfilling your dream of becoming parents.

With such a major decision, begin by sitting down together to decide your goal and what is important to you. Is it important that your child looks like you or has genetic ties to you? How much can you invest financially? How important is timing for your journey to becoming parents? These are just a few questions you’ll want to answer as you examine whether surrogacy vs. adoption is best for your family.

Let’s take a look at what each family-building option entails.


A surrogate mother, by simple definition, is “a woman who becomes pregnant by artificial insemination or by implantation of a fertilized egg created by in vitro fertilization for the purpose of carrying the fetus to term for another person or persons.” Surrogacy involves in vitro fertilization of an embryo placed in the surrogate, usually using the intended parent’s embryo. Sometimes, for various reasons, a donated egg or sperm is used to create the embryo.

Surrogacy is often the chosen route if it is important to the intended parents to have a genetic link to their child, and that their child resembles them.

How Long Does it Take?

Currently, it takes about 3 to 12 months to find a surrogate. Once this happens, you can expect the contract signing, embryo preparation, and then implantation to take about six months. And then, of course, nine more months until your baby is delivered. So the entire process generally takes about two years.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of surrogacy tends to run high. On average, the entire process costs between $60,000 and $150,000. The costs involved include agency fees, surrogate mother fees, medical expenses, legal fees, and education and support.


Adoption today typically involves an open adoption plan. Modern, open adoption allows for the birth parents to review adoptive parent’s profiles and choose the parents they would like to adopt their child. After the adoption is final, a Post-Adoption Contact Agreement usually outlines each party’s desired type of contact. The amount of contact can range from occasional photos and updates shared on social media to in-person visits once or twice a year.

How Long Does it Take?

The wait time for adoption can vary greatly. Generally, adoptive parents can expect a wait time of six months to two years. First, you must complete a home study, create your profile, then wait for a birth mother to choose you. The home study process takes about four to six weeks. After that, you will create a profile so that it’s available to be viewed by birth parents. Sometimes a match takes some time, and sometimes it happens right away. You could be chosen by a birth mother who has just given birth and called to go to the hospital to meet your baby that day. Or, a birth mother might choose you early on in her pregnancy, and you get to experience the pregnancy and delivery with her.

Some hopeful parents are wary of the adoption option because they fear a birth mother changing her mind and taking her baby back. However, Lifetime Adoption’s reclaim rate remains around just 3% to 4%. Therefore, when choosing an adoption professional to work with, you will want to ask about their reclaim rate. A qualified adoption professional who properly screens, monitors, and provides counseling options to birth mothers should have a reclaim rate similar to Lifetime’s — somewhere around 4% to 6%.

Lifetime’s adoption professionals are very experienced and know how to pre-screen a potential birth mother. They know the questions to ask and are looking out for any red flags which may indicate an adoption scam. As a result, our reclaim rate is very low because many services and resources are available to birth mothers. Plus, our team provides them with lots of attention and support.

How Much Does it Cost?

The total cost of adoption in the US ranges from $0 to $45,000. Your adoption costs will be lower in situations such as foster care or adopting children with special needs. However, if you are hoping for a newborn, you will generally need an adoption professional’s assistance and expertise. Your costs will include agency fees, home study costs, legal fees and may include birth mother assistance and medical expenses if needed.

Surrogacy vs. Adoption

There is no right or wrong way to achieve your dream of growing your family. Even couples who biologically have children face unknowns. Any parent will tell you that there are no guarantees. No matter which route to parenthood you choose, your surrogacy or adoption professional will help you through it.

Weigh the pros and cons of surrogacy vs. adoption to choose the right path for you and have faith. Then, do the work to make your choice a success and enjoy the journey.

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Written by Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P.

Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).

Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.

“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!

Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.

I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.

It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”

Read More About Mardie Caldwell

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