It’s time to meet one of our Fertility Care Advisors, Erin Graham! You may have seen that an integral part of GoStork’s offering is one-on-one, personalized support as we know there’s no one size fits all when it comes to mapping out your journey and finding your providers. As a former gestational carrier (times three!) and previous case manager for a surrogacy/egg donation agency, Erin has first-hand experience with the process and a deep passion for helping intended parents achieve their family-building dreams. Check out our Q&A with the amazing Erin to learn more about her experience as a gestational carrier – including her own kids’ reactions – and the many families she’s helped, as well as how she can assist you as you research fertility providers and the questions she can help answer!
We’re so grateful to have you as our Fertility Care Advisor! Even prior to GoStork, you helped so many intended parents on their surrogacy journeys – can you share more about your experience as gestational carrier as well as your time working at an agency?
Being a gestational carrier is like nothing else in the world. As a gestational carrier, you’re on this epic journey with your intended parent(s) that culminates with you literally bringing their dream to life. That moment is miraculous and profound and completely indescribable. When I first submitted my application to become a gestational carrier I just knew I wanted to help. I had no idea how it would change my life. But seeing that relief and joy on the faces of my first set of intended parents was more fulfilling than I could have imagined. I knew I had found what I was meant to do, so I went on to complete two more journeys as a gestational carrier. I loved helping intended parents build and grow their families so much that I decided to use my experience to continue that mission from a professional standpoint. (One body can only grow so many babies!) I became a case manager for a surrogacy and egg donation agency so that I could continue helping. As I established my career in the industry, that’s when I learned about GoStork and its mission and knew that was where I needed to be.
As a Fertility Care Advisor, you provide one-on-one, personalized support to intended parents on our platform. What types of questions are you often asked on your first zoom calls?
It really depends on where the individual/couple is coming from. Sometimes the focus is on planning the journey from a cost perspective. No part of this journey is cheap, so they may want to compare the clinics and agencies with the lowest total cost so that this dream is within reach. There may be questions about financing options, and how to find a clinic with high success rates that is also affordable. (Multiple cycles can drive that cost up quickly!) Or how to find a surrogacy agency that’s affordable but also experienced and well-equipped to guide them through the process as smoothly and seamlessly as possible after what may have already been a long, exhausting and bumpy journey. Sometimes the focus is more on the timeline. “I’ve heard there is such a shortage of gestational carriers and it will take upwards of 6 to even 12 months or more to find a match – are there really agencies with surrogates ready to be matched right now?” (The answer is yes!) Often the conversation is about balancing several priorities at once. “Cost is a concern, maybe not the top priority, but I don’t want to wait over a year for a match, so are there agencies that have a reasonable matching timeframe that are also somewhat affordable?” Sometimes we start with one priority that seems to be the most important, and then as we’re talking, we discover that a different priority may be more pressing. For example total cost vs. agencies that take little to no money up front until a match is found. And other times the conversation is just about where to even start. Maybe they know they will need a clinic, an egg donor and a gestational carrier and have no idea how to begin searching for any of those things, so I walk them through the steps, a sort of “order-of-operations” conversation so to speak. For the most part I just try to listen first, see what part of the journey they’re on, and go from there.
What’s been the best part about working – in various capacities – to help such incredibly deserving people achieve their dreams of building their families? Any particularly favorite anecdotes you’ll always remember?
Nothing beats that moment the baby is born. It always feels like such a miraculous thing. Knowing that you’ve contributed to that in some way is an incredible feeling. I’m so honored to have been able to accomplish that as a gestational carrier, and then to be able to make a career where I get to continue helping intended parents get to that moment is my own dream come true. As for anecdotes, probably the one that always makes me chuckle is my son wanting the baby to be born because my belly was too big for him to fit on my lap. It amazes me how open and inquisitive kids’ minds are about it all. They have always been my biggest cheerleaders.
Tell us about your own family! How old are your kids and what are some of the favorite family activities lately?
I have a 13 year old daughter and 11 year old son, both in middle school. We built a house last year and then added a pool more recently, so swimming is definitely a favorite activity during the summer months. We also have a puppy who keeps us all laughing with his antics. We’re big fans of family game nights as well.
How did your family feel about you being a GC? I imagine there was an adjustment period – did they have any particular questions or concerns?
My husband was not a bit surprised when I brought it up and really we talked about and researched it together. He was fully on board right from the start. Our kids were pretty young at the time (3 and 5 years old when I first applied) and so they naturally had lots of questions, but also thought it was really cool and were so excited about it. Some of our extended family and friends were more surprised and had questions/concerns about potential risks to me medically and wondered if it would be challenging emotionally, which is to be expected. It was important for me to remain patient and provide clear answers and explanations and to keep in mind that this is a concept that is very new to most people and they hadn’t put in the research I had. Ultimately, once everyone had a chance to digest the information, we had so much support and love behind us.
What piece of advice or words of wisdom would you share with new intended parents just beginning their own family building journey on GoStork?
First of all, that no question is silly. There is a lot of misinformation out there and when you’re just starting out, it can feel overwhelming to try to sift through it all. I’m happy to answer anything that crosses your mind! And secondly, take advantage of the one-on-one personalized support. I’m here to help you move forward, and I love what I do. I cannot wait to connect with you and help guide you on your path to parenthood!
Thank you Erin! We’re so grateful to have you on the team and for all that you’re doing to assist intended parents on GoStork!
Schedule your free consultation with Erin here.