Many people around the world that choose to start a family are likely to do it the “old fashioned way.” A hopeful couple will come together in the hopes of conceiving a child, and, once a doctor confirms that a pregnancy is underway, the mother will carefully monitor her health and that of the child for nine months until the baby is born.
But for some couples, the traditional way may not be an option. Same-sex couples, for example, may not be biologically capable of either partner being able to conceive and carry a baby to term. Even for couples where a man and a woman are involved, there may be fertility issues, or in some cases, medical risks associated with pregnancy that make it inadvisable for the woman to give birth.
When hopeful families encounter this situation, this presents many more challenges, but thankfully, this does not mean that raising a family is impossible. There are two solutions to becoming a family. One is adoption, while the other is surrogacy. But which one makes sense? A lot of that depends on the priorities and personal feelings of the family involved.
The process of adoption is, of course, one with a priority on trying to give something to the needy. Plenty of children are brought into the world who, for one reason or another, find themselves without parents. Sometimes the stories can be harsh, even cruel, with newborns abandoned by mothers. Others can be very young children that find themselves orphaned in other parts of the world due to disaster or even war. In these cases, however, there is one overriding common characteristic. The children are already born, and while potential parents have a choice of available children to adopt from, they cannot control which children are currently available in that selection. There are numerous children of varying age ranges, ethnicities and even health conditions.
People who choose to adopt are making a deliberate choice to bring someone unfortunate into their own life, and try to reverse those fortunes for that child. Whether it is an abandoned newborn, or a child from the other side of the planet who lost family in famine, or natural disaster, there is an element of healing, nurturing and recovery in this choice. Some celebrities, notably Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, have chosen adoption as a way to allow suffering children to access and benefit from the privileged wealthy lifestyle she enjoys. In other words, people that choose to adopt often have, in their hearts, a desire to “give someone unfortunate a chance.”
The decision to go with a surrogate mother, on the other hand, is predicated on very different motivations. In these instances, there is usually a very strong need from the hopeful family to still have a child that is biologically “theirs,” sharing the genetic characteristics of one or both parents if medically possible. The issue is that it is not medically safe, or feasible for one of the partners to bear a child. So the only viable way for a child that still shares genetic characteristics to come to develop safely is through an arrangement with a woman willing to accept a fertilized egg and carry the embryo for nine months until it is time for the delivery.
This normally involves a prior process known as in vitro fertilization. When IVF is brought into the picture, a couple will donate their genetic material through sperm and an egg, if possible. This may be “freshly acquired,” or it may have to be drawn from storage in a “cryobank” if viable samples needed to be taken earlier. This is sometimes the case with procedures like chemo or radiotherapy that may affect the fertility of eggs, and thus remaining healthy eggs need to be sampled and stored.
A Personal Choice
There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing surrogacy or adoption. This is simply a matter of personal preference and priorities. Neither solution is particularly easy, and in many cases, both alternatives will require extensive screening. Adoptive parents, for example, are often required to have background checks, and other evaluations occur before it is decided to allow a child to be selected for adoption. This, of course, is because there is a serious concern about wanting the child to enter into a better situation than the one he or she is currently in.
With surrogacy, there may be medical and background screenings required as well. The type of screenings also extends to potential surrogate mothers who must be carefully selected for health and suitability. After all, just being physically healthy is not sufficient is not living a healthy lifestyle.
People who are considering either adoption or surrogacy should talk to professionals. A good surrogate motherhood clinic can provide a range of comprehensive support and services to facilitate this process.