Hello, my name is Erika.  I live in central Illinois with my husband Jeff and three children (13, 11, and 7).  I am a High School Science teacher and I love to read, go for walks, and swim.  My best accomplishments in life are being a mom and surrogate.  I have been a surrogate twice, once with FSC and once independently.

Contemplating becoming a surrogate

I first contemplated surrogacy when a close friend struggled to stay pregnant.  I remember telling her “don’t worry, I would be happy to carry your baby for you.”  Luckily this friend was able to eventually carry two beautiful children.  Fast forward a few years and I meet a new neighbor.  Upon talking to her I asked how her baby was and she said “I don’t have a baby.”  My face went red as I thought for sure she was just pregnant not too long ago (I saw her outside, but had not officially met her).  She then quickly said, “I was a surrogate.”  Many conversations with her later, I started to seriously research surrogacy.  The more I researched, the more I knew I wanted to help build other families and to share the fact that I loved being pregnant and was able to easily carry (healthily and to full-term).

Feeling the love

When choosing intended parents, my highest priority was finding intended parents with whom we got along and felt comfortable.  Pregnancy is such an amazing experience and I wanted to be able to share all aspects of it with the IPs and have good open communication.  FSC did an amazing job of matching several items from our questionnaire with the intended parents.  From the first meeting, we felt an immediate connection.  We were able to chat openly and freely and just spend time getting to know one another.  We could feel the love in the air between all of us and an understanding that this amazing journey could be long or short or easy or hard, but in the end, we were in it together!

the perfect match: erika’s experience as a gestational surrogate

The surrogacy process from intake to transfer was about 5 months.  I didn’t think that was too long considering Thanksgiving and Christmas were in there.  I felt it was very realistic and it allowed some time to talk to the intended parents and get to know them more.  We were actually able to meet them in person before my medical clearance appointment!

Overcoming other’s concerns

Initially, my husband had concerns about me becoming a surrogate.  He was concerned that something could happen to me.  After many discussions and research and speaking to my OB/GYN, my husband felt more comfortable with moving forward as the chances of complications were low.  There were a few concerns from family members about what my children would think, but we were open and honest with our children from the start. They were able to meet the intended family, so they knew and understood that the baby would not be living with us after he/she was born.  Overall, I was lucky to have a very supportive family throughout my surrogacy journey!

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Nothing short of amazing

The best part of my surrogacy experience was seeing the parents meet their child in the delivery room for the first time!  It was nothing short of amazing and overwhelming happiness!   That is also when it all came together for my husband.  After the delivery, he said, “I get it so much more now and why you were so adamant about doing this.”  There are no words to describe the tremendous amount of love seeing the parents with their child.

the perfect match: erika’s experience as a gestational surrogate

My intended parents and I still text and share pictures and send the occasional packages. I even hear from the IP’s parents and sister! Social media has been a great outlet as well, as I share my family on there and they do the same.  It is wonderful to keep in touch and be able to watch each other’s families grow.  We were going to plan a vacation together for this summer, but with the craziness of the pandemic, that is on hold for now.

I am so grateful to FSC for their amazing matching process. Our IPs were nothing short of caring, kind, loving, and inclusive and it extended after the delivery and to even this day.  We are so lucky to have gained an extra family during this experience!

the perfect match: erika’s experience as a gestational surrogate

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.