Stephanie Levich, founder of Family Match Consulting, author, and fertility expert of 20 years, came on the show to discuss all things surrogacy. She has significantly helped Keven and I’s own journey — finding us one within a day! — and with her experience, she knows that everyone turns to fertility treatments, including surrogacy, for so many different reasons. Openly speaking on the topic can be helpful for anyone looking to go down the same path, there’s no right or wrong, so she shares her career insights in hopes of normalizing surrogacy discussions!
Stephanie’s Surrogacy Insights
Take time to celebrate even the smallest milestones.
Stephanie is someone who wants the absolute best for her clients, taking on the stress and emotions that they feel in trying times. She knows the rollercoaster of the journey firsthand, both from her own fertility experience and her career field. Knowing how much difficulties come with it, she says the beautiful part of her job are the happy milestones along the way, which she urges clients to celebrate even when they don’t feel worth it. Getting through the small hurdles leads toward the biggest milestone at the end: the actual birth. While she understands the apprehension, especially when clients have been through so much, she takes it to heart and is excited for everyone whom she gets to share the journey with. The best part for her is getting to see pictures from the hospital or being physically present in the delivery room, “the grand finale of this epic journey that everyone’s gone on together,” which she says is impactful for everyone involved.
Everyone has their own, personal reasons to go through surrogacy.
Many people don’t necessarily think about all the reasons people decide to use a surrogate. From people who have lost their uterus from an illness to those that experienced trauma through their first pregnancy and delivery, Stephanie has seen it all. She particularly mentions how important it is to be in a good mental space to be pregnant. For instance, clients of hers’ have been on certain mental health medications imperative for them to live their best lives that would ultimately be unsafe for pregnancy, and going off of them would be detrimental. She’s also helped tons of same sex couples and single dads who know creating a family is the path for them.
There are tons of misconceptions with the practice.
Stephanie points out how, especially with celebrities and public figures, people often believe people want surrogates so they don’t gain weight; meanwhile, she has never once come across this during her 20 years on the job. People have underlying issues you can’t even begin to know about. There’s also the point that surrogates are just doing it for money, but she says these people typically have had their own children with easy pregnancies, enjoy being pregnant, and love the idea of helping somebody else become a parent. It’s a profound experience for both the surrogate and the intended parents, and she usually finds them proud to have been able to do so. Then, there’s the understandable fear on both sides that the surrogate is going to keep the baby or the parent will change their mind after the pregnancy has already occurred. While Stephanie has gotten these questions of worry throughout her years of working at an agency, understandably so, she says it’s not something that happens normally.
Everyone has a right to privacy, but connection between surrogate & intended parents is crucial.
After seeing the unique challenges that come from someone being in the public eye while on a surrogacy journey, Stephanie took up this niche of clientele. She shares a distinction her friend made about something being private and something being a secret, which is important to remember in the surrogacy world. No matter who you are in the world, people are entitled to decide who, when, and if they tell, especially on matters like fertility. Calling something a “secret” is often shrouded in negative connotation, so Stephanie stresses to share to your child their birth and conception story in an honest, open, and celebratory way. Something like this can be kept private, but shouldn’t be a secret. Along the same lines, she urges her clients — both surrogates and intended parents — to take the human approach when it comes to their journey, instead of making the whole thing feel transactional. Both parties are coming together to create a family, so establishing and maintaining a relationship through the process is key for either side to be comfortable. Surrogates genuinely want to be invested in this experience they’ve been given a huge responsibility for, so create your own supportive community because no one is alone in this journey.
Stephanie urges everyone interested in taking the next step of their surrogacy or those struggling in their fertility journey to reach out to resources, including herself. With Family Match, she wants to help breakdown stigmas of judgment (i.e. infertility) in an agency that works diligently to find you the right surrogate in a timely manner. As she says, “It’s really the impact you have on the people who hear your story [that] is so profound.”
To hear more of Stephanie’s knowledge, check out the full podcast episode!
For more episodes, check out Heal Squad x Maria Menounos. Subscribe on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple.