For couples unable to conceive naturally, adoption and surrogacy offer a practical route into parenthood. However, from an emotional, legal, financial, genetic, and timing perspective, there are considerable differences between the two. For that reason, you and your partner must give the matter long and careful consideration before deciding which approach works best for you.
It’s generally accepted that surrogacy is more expensive than adoption, if only because of the fee payable to the surrogate mother. Yet, whichever route you take, the process isn’t for the faint-hearted. Both adoption and surrogacy require a significant financial, as well as emotional, investment. Financially, estimates range from $20,000-$50,000 for adoption and over twice as much for surrogacy.
To help you decide which approach suits you best, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to adoption and surrogacy in Arizona. In clear and non-legalistic terms, we explain the differences, pros and cons, and legal details of both approaches. You might be surprised by how some of the legislation is - and isn't! - enforced, so read on to learn more.
How much an adoption costs will depend on the individual factors involved in every case. You can be sure that there’ll be legal charges; plus, if you’re using an agency, you’ll have to pay for their services too.
In cases where you’re planning to adopt soon after the child is born, you may incur additional costs like medical and hospital charges, living expenses for the mother, counseling fees, and so on.
Unsurprisingly, there are many legal differences between adoption and surrogacy. Perhaps the most significant is that with surrogacy, one or both of you may be recorded as the child’s legal birth parents. Also, in general, surrogacy is a much more complex affair because various legal and medical matters need to be covered before the child is even conceived, let alone born.
With adoption, the process is much simpler and swifter because the child is already alive. In such cases, once the birth parents have agreed to the adoption, the courts are free to grant custody to the adoptive parents.
Under state law, any adult resident in Arizona can apply to adopt, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. In certain circumstances, non-residents may also be eligible, for example, when the child already resides with them. Naturally, there’s a rigorous selection process to ensure that the prospective adopters are suitable candidates and are appropriate for the child.
When the courts decide on adoption, the child’s best interests are always paramount. Prospective parents must provide a safe and secure environment that meets the child’s emotional, physical, social, and mental needs. The courts also consider a variety of other factors, such as whether the prospective parents are married, whether there’s already an existing relationship with the child, and, where relevant, the wishes of the child.
According to the relevant legislation, surrogacy is expressly forbidden in Arizona. The law also states that any surrogate is the legal mother, regardless of any contract, and is entitled to custody of the child if she so decides. What’s more, if she’s married, her husband is presumed to be the legal father.
However, those facts don’t quite tell the full story. In cases where both the intending parents are genetically related to the child, you can likely secure a pre-birth parenting order to ensure the child is handed over. Where one of the intended parents is genetically related, you may also still be able to get a pre-birth parenting order. But where there’s no genetic connection, your only option is to wait until the child is born and then file for a step-parent adoption.
You may be fortunate and find a close family member who’s willing to carry the baby for you. Still, most couples considering surrogacy must pay a fee to the mother who has the baby. Quite rightly, surrogacy doesn’t come cheap. Carrying a baby for nine months is hard work, and it’s a fantastic gesture to hand over a newborn child after all that time.
Some couples might be tempted to use a less expensive option, like an overseas surrogate or the friend of a friend, but that can be a risky approach. Many prospective parents decide that the best option is to work with a professional agency to ensure that surrogates have been vetted and are committed. Most agencies also provide an exact breakdown of potential costs.
It’s a nightmare scenario for couples expecting a child via surrogacy: after giving birth, the mother changes her mind and decides she wants to keep the baby. As already outlined, Arizona state law allows a surrogate mother to change her mind about handing over the baby.
If both parents have a genetic relationship with the child, you can likely secure a pre-birth parenting order to ensure your baby is handed over. In cases where only one parent is related, however, you may be at the mercy of the presiding judge or county when it comes to issuing such an order.
There’s no easy way to say it: adoption and surrogacy will likely cost you a lot of money and involve a lot of hard work. The flip side is that your investment will be repaid a million times over in terms of love, joy, happiness, and fulfillment.
Because significant amounts of money are often involved, you’ll probably find it wise to employ a family lawyer when adopting a child or using a surrogate mother because there are so many legal complexities.
With their legal expertise, long experience, and practical know-how from previous cases, a family attorney can help to ensure that the whole process runs smoothly and that everything’s legally watertight. All of which leaves you to focus on the most important thing: the new child in your life.
Whether it’s through surrogacy or adoption, bringing a child into your life is one of the most meaningful decisions you’ll ever make. It’s a daunting yet wonderful experience, and with the expert advice, support, and guidance of the team at Marble, you can enjoy every step of the journey!