The choice between sperm donation and adoption can be a difficult one, made more complex based on your individual circumstances. However, there are a few key points about each process that you should consider when making your decision.
Adoption Can Give a Better Life to a Child in Need
One advantage adoption has over sperm donation is that adoption gives you the opportunity to give a better life to a child who, for whatever reason, cannot or should not be raised by her biological parents. These children already exist or will exist regardless of whether or not you give birth yourself and need help. Your choice to adopt a child takes one more child out of the foster system or orphanage and provides her with a loving, stable environment.
Donation Offers the Better Chance of a Child with Clear Medical History
One primary advantage of sperm donation over adoption--and an advantage of the procedure over some other types of fertility treatments--is that you, your fertility specialist and/or a donor agency can review a donor's family medical history and determine if your child will be at greater genetic risk for medical conditions or diseases. This is why some couples in which the male's family is prone to a condition choose donation over natural conception.
In adoption, you may not have access to your child's medical history and with two unknown parents, you'll have no idea what kind of genetic medical conditions or diseases to which your child may be prone. However, there are some instances in which one or both biological parents will provide as detailed a medical history as possible.
You May Not Be Able to Adopt But May Be Eligible for Donation
Many women and couples turn to fertility treatments such as sperm donation because they are ineligible for adoption or otherwise find the process too long and harrowing. There are many places that allow only married couples--and usually married couples of one woman, one man--to adopt, leaving otherwise loving and capable single parents and gay couples with no other choice but to seek to conceive on their own. If you have the financing and your reproductive system is healthy, you should be eligible for donation regardless of your background.
Donation Allows a Woman to Go through Childbirth
For some women, the process of natural childbirth is something that they want to experience at least once in their lifetimes. If your reproductive system is healthy or you have minor infertility issues, you should be able to conceive via sperm donation if other circumstances prevent you from conceiving naturally.
Adoption Gives Children to Women Who Cannot Conceive
If, however, a woman experiences moderate to severe infertility issues herself, donation may not be enough to help her conceive naturally. A woman's only choice for becoming a parent, then, may be to adopt.
Both sperm donation and adoption have their pros and cons and there is no "right" answer to which is the best decision to help you bring a child into your life. If you're eligible for both procedures, you can always try to have a second child later via the other choice--unless you find that your initial decision was the best choice for you.