In this three-part series, we speak with former clients Samantha and Eric, who completed a surrogacy journey last year with Nicole and her husband Kevin. Now the parents of two beautiful children, Samantha and Eric share their experience, while Nicole describes the pleasure of playing such a significant role in helping them build their family. Follow along in Part 2 and Part 3.
“We did not start at this decision.”
It’s a sentiment that is shared by many intended parents who choose surrogacy to build their families. Eric and Samantha had tried to get pregnant multiple times, both the old-fashioned way and through IVF, which resulted in several heartbreaking miscarriages. In 2016, at the urging of their doctor, they began to explore surrogacy as an option.
When their doctor first broached the topic of surrogacy with Samantha and Eric, she had another recommendation: “She said, ‘if you’re going to go down this route you have to use ConceiveAbilities. They are by far the best.’”
It turned out to be a great fit during a stressful time. “We fell in love with Alicia,” Samantha said of Alicia Denefe, LCPC, ConceiveAbilities’ Surrogacy Match Expert. “She was so warm and made the whole process seem a lot less daunting and intimidating.” But soon after they received paperwork to finalize the process, Samantha found out she was pregnant again. They put things on hold, but three months later she lost the pregnancy. “I said, there’s no turning back. I’m never getting pregnant again, we are signing the paperwork this week,” she recalled. “We literally signed it three days after this happened.” They were ready to move forward with surrogacy - with no idea just how many surprises they had in store.
Still, it wasn’t an easy decision. After several years of trying to conceive, they were feeling jaded and exhausted. “I find you get really frustrated trying,” said Samantha. “I was excited to have a baby. We waited until we were really ready to do it, and I thought I was going to be one of those people…’oops, on my first try, I got pregnant.’”
After completing all the necessary paperwork, including details about the type of surrogate they’d like to match with, they were prepared to press pause for a bit and let the process unfold.
“I found it to be a very relaxing time because I felt like I was doing something, but didn’t expect to get an email every single day. I felt like something was in the works, but I wasn’t stressed out about it.” As it turns out, Samantha said, “It was the most relaxing time in the entire process. I don’t have a to-do list that’s a mile long because I’ve handed it off to ConceiveAbilities.”
Meanwhile, several states away, Nicole was making a big decision of her own. Already the mother of two young sons, she and her husband Kevin were done building their own family. But, she said, “it had always been something in the back of my head, knowing that there were people out there who just…wanted what we had. Knowing that’s all people wanted, what we had with our kids, broke my heart that they couldn’t.”
She began to quietly explore surrogacy, which eventually led her to ConceiveAbilities. “Reading the reviews about them and what they were about, I thought, ‘this sounds really cool,’” she recalled. One small step led to another, and they quickly found themselves flying to Chicago to meet with Alicia.
“She made us think deeper about things than what you see on the surface,” Nicole explained. They left the meeting ready to move forward, expecting it to be at least several months before they would receive word about a match. She was surprised, to say the least, when she received a call less than three weeks later: ‘we have a match for you.’
“We didn’t want to put too many stipulations on it,” Eric recalled of their criteria for a gestational carrier. “We want to be smart about this, but at the same time, we don’t want to be waiting nine months. It’s already a small piece of the population willing to do this, and then we’re going to cut it down further?”
Trusting ConceiveAbilities’ process and expertise helped. “We were presented with Nicole through this incredible email,” Samantha said. ‘They’re just the coolest things ever. It’s like a whole website about them, a whole page on her story, quotes from her and pictures of her family. It was just done so beautifully. And she was perfect.”
So, with Alicia guiding the match meeting, “we scheduled a call with her. We immediately loved her,” Samantha said. “We had 48 hours to confirm. Eric and I got off the call and said yes, 100%. If she’s healthy and the doctor clears her, we’re good to go. We’re moving forward. We knew right away.”
Nicole and Kevin felt the same way. “I just remember feeling like, this is right,” Nicole said. “They are right, and we’re right together. You could just tell from the start that it was going to be beautiful.” She was thrilled to hear from Alicia the next morning: it’s a match.
“ConceiveAbilities did such a good job matching us. It felt like from the first time we talked that we had known them for years,” Nicole said, emotional about the connection even now. “It felt like we had known them for the longest time but were reconnecting after a while. That, in and of itself, was beautiful.”
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.