Adding another child to your family used to be a simple affair--you could either do it the old-fashioned way or head to the local orphanage or adoption agency to find a child who needs a good home.
But 21st century family building gives potential parents a whole new world of options, including adopting an embryo and hiring a gestational carrier (a surrogate) from almost anywhere around the world. Here's a rundown of the options available to you, if you're looking to expand your family this year--and the "old-fashioned" way won't work for you.
1. Assisted Reproductive Technology
What It Is: Cutting-edge science has been helping many couples with fertility issues conceive and give birth to a child. Examples of this include fertility drugs, using donor sperm or eggs, and in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the mother's egg and father's sperm are united in a lab, then implanted in the mother's uterus.
The Pros: For couples with fertility issues, the technology can lead to a successful pregnancy.
The Cons: Treatment success rates vary wildly--and even after trying several different types of fertility treatments, some couples still don't achieve a healthy pregnancy. Treatments can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and many health insurance companies offer only limited coverage.
2. Domestic Adoption
Prospective parents use an adoption agency or adoption attorney to seek out a birth family that is interested in making an adoption plan for their son or daughter. Most often, the children are adopted as newborns, and families maintain some ties to the birth family through open adoption.
The Pros: You may get to care for your new child from the first moments after birth. Most domestic adoptions are now at least partially open, so you will have some information about the birth parents and their medical backgrounds that you can share with your child.
The Cons: The timing of your adoption can be uncertain, as you could be picked by a birth mother tomorrow--or two years from now. Sometimes, the birth mother decides to keep her child after he's born, which can be devastating.