Many people dream of finding someone they want to spend the rest of their lives with, and then starting a new life together, building up a family. The conventional way to go about this is by establishing a relationship, a lifelong commitment. Then the woman in the couple allows herself to become pregnant. Nine months later, a baby is born, and so is a new family. But this doesn’t work for everyone.
Some people have considerable obstacles in place for starting a family. A same-sex male couple can’t conceive naturally, because neither man can be pregnant. A woman may have a medical condition, such as HIV, which means she can get pregnant but is guaranteed to transmit a dangerous virus to her unborn child. For couples that face these kinds of challenges, there are two age-old solutions; adoption and surrogacy.
The Adoption Option
Adoption is one of the oldest concepts in the world. A couple takes on a child that is not born from the woman in the relationship and decides to take that child on and raise them as their own. Adoption has been in practice for millennia, even before recorded history. In the past, it was comparatively easy for anyone family to decide to take on another child if they wished it, and raise that child.
Today, however, adoption is much more restricted. The simple desire to adopt a child is not enough. Depending on where in the world a couple resides, different laws, evaluations, and minimum social, financial, and psychological criteria may need to be met before a couple is allowed to adopt a child. It is also no longer “free” requiring a sizable financial investment to ensure couples understand the full magnitude of the choice they are making.
The Surrogacy Option
Surrogacy is another ancient solution to starting a family that is even mentioned in the Christian Bible. One of the biblical figures, Abraham, had a wife unable to conceive. So a surrogate mother was used to provide a child and start the family. Surrogacy, then, is when another woman agrees to become pregnant on behalf of a would-be family. After nine months, the baby is born, and the surrogate mother introduces the newborn to the would-be family.
Like adoption, surrogacy has been around for millennia. Like adoption, it was “easier” legally speaking, to do in the past. Today, surrogacy is not so straightforward. Some countries, like France and Germany, have even banned any surrogacy. Other countries like Canada, have legalized altruistic surrogacy, where a woman volunteers to become a surrogate mother only for the cost of living and medical expenses. Then there places like California in the United States where “compensated surrogacy” is legal, and this means the surrogate mother gets sizable financial recognition for her contribution.
Which One Is Right For You?
Different couples will have very mixed personal feelings and circumstances when it comes to the idea of starting a family. Some, for example, may feel that with so many children already out in the world, without parents, and in need of a loving family, adoption is an acceptable choice. These are people that often place less of an emphasis on genetics, and more finding a child in need of help, and making a lifelong difference.
On the other hand, for some people, family with a direct genetic connection is incredibly important. Gestational surrogacy now makes carrying on this genetic line feasible even when a woman can’t or is medically advised not to conceive. With gestational surrogacy, the egg and sperm of the would-be parents are fertilized in a lab. That egg is then implanted in a surrogate mother. When the baby is born, it has, genetically speaking, the expected 50% genetic mix of both would-be parents, exactly as in natural childbirth. For people that want the peace of mind that comes from having a child trace a direct genetic lineage, it’s still possible through gestational surrogacy, even if the woman in the would-be family can’t get pregnant herself. The surrogate mother has no genetic connection to the child at all since her DNA and egg weren’t used at conception.
Making Your Choice
Every couple is going to have to look at the pros and cons of both alternatives. Adoption, for example, offers the would-be parents a vast range of choice, from different countries and ages. Infants are always “available,” but so are toddlers and young children, from many different parts of the world, all in need of a home and a loving family environment. Surrogacy, as with traditional pregnancy, is more of a “roll of the dice,” and the child that is born is the one you will raise.
On the other hand, adoption evaluation can be rigorous, as adoption organizations undertake robust evaluation methods to ensure a child goes to a good home. Would-be families for surrogacy don’t undergo this same kind of scrutiny. As long as they can find a suitable surrogate mother, there are no strict parental requirements, though it can cost more money.
Which one is the right choice is up to you.