Having children is no longer limited to the old-fashioned “man + woman = baby” equation. And thank goodness! Today, couples and individuals of all sexual orientations and marital statuses can start and build families. 

If you are unable to have children yourself, two of the most popular family-building options are surrogacy and adoption. Each option involves a very different process, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s have a quick look at how they compare in terms of cost, wait times, legal issues, and your level of control throughout the process. 

Surrogacy vs. adoption: advantages and disadvantages

The biological link

A big advantage of gestational surrogacy is that you (and/or your partner) will have a biological link to your child. The eggs and/or sperm from the Intended Parents are used to create the embryo, which is then transferred to the surrogate. Essentially, the baby is created by you but ‘grown’ in the surrogate. 

This biological link can be important for people who long to have a child who shares their genetic traits. Biological relations can also help simplify the legal process. 

In adoption, there is no biological link because your child will have been born to other parents. To complicate matters further, the situation can become more legally and emotionally complex if the mother changes her mind. In most cases, courts will favor biological links. 

Length of the process

Both surrogacy and adoption require fairly long wait times. 

In general, the whole surrogacy process can take between one to two years from when you submit your application to actually holding your baby. 

First, there’s the matching process, which can take several weeks. After you’ve chosen your surrogate, it can then take several rounds of embryo transfers for a viable pregnancy to happen. Every situation is different, so there’s no way of knowing exactly how long surrogacy can take. 

Adoption is also a lengthy process. The initial wait time is around a year, but this can be even longer for international adoptions. Like surrogacy, many unknowns are involved, so every family’s wait time is different. It can take days, weeks, or months to be chosen by a birth mother. The wait time also depends on what stage during pregnancy the birth mother decides to pursue adoption. 

The matching process

When you build a family through a surrogacy agency, you’ll go through a lengthy screening process to find the right surrogate to have your child. The matching process is very personal and involves background checks, medical and psychological evaluations, meetings, and other procedures. The surrogate goes through a similar process, so she has just as much choice in the matter. 

In adoption, the birth mother usually chooses the adoptive parents. It’s also up to the birth mother to decide how much contact she’d like to have with the adoptive parents. It is often strongly encouraged that birth and adoptive families communicate regularly after the adoption. 

Control and legal issues

Surrogacy and adoption vary greatly regarding the amount of control you’ll have as a parent-to-be. 

As an Intended Parent, you’ll be involved at every step, from the embryo transfer and the surrogate’s medical appointments through to the actual birth. You’re the one who initiates the surrogate pregnancy and goes home with your child at the end. The surrogacy contract also clearly outlines everyone’s relationship in the process. The surrogate is only a ‘carrier’ for the intended parents and has no legal rights to the baby. The Intended Parents are the legal parents. 

In adoption, you will have much less control over the process. Adoption contracts are governed by state law. In many cases, the prospective birth mother’s pregnancy is unplanned, which means your involvement in the whole process will come after she decides to seek a family for the child. Generally, the legal process takes place after the birth, and the birth parent/s must legally consent to the adoption before the new parents can be granted custody. However, one or both of the birth parents are legally within their rights to change their mind at any point, which can severely complicate the whole process.  


Both surrogacy and adoption can be quite costly. Both involve paying the birth mother or surrogate’s pregnancy-related expenses. 

In the US, surrogacy costs generally range between $110,000 to $170,000. This figure includes agency fees, surrogate compensation and expenses, legal fees, and medical expenses. Costs can increase if multiple rounds of IVF are required or if other medical expenses come up. 

The cost of adoption depends on various factors, including agency fees and your particular situation. Adopting through a private adoption agency may incur costs of around $70,000. 

Adoptive parents are also usually required to pay for adoption-related expenses, such as legal fees, prenatal and hospital expenses, living costs, and the child’s medical expenses. 

Should I choose surrogacy or adoption?

At the end of the day, choosing whether to build your family through surrogacy or adoption is entirely up to you. Every situation is different, and it depends on what you feel is best for your family. 

You might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all this information, but remember, Family Source Consultants are experts at answering your questions. Many of the staff here at FSC have been in your shoes at some stage, so we know how you’re feeling. 

Request a free consultation with us today, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about becoming a parent through surrogacy!

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.