June is Infertility Awareness Month, a time to highlight the experiences of people facing infertility around the globe. One way to show our recognition is to open up the conversation around different paths to parenthood, and to elevate voices working in the field of bringing babies into the lives of those struggling to conceive on their own.
Canadian Surrogacy Community has been in the business of helping families grow for almost eight years. They provide a collaborative service that represents the needs of surrogates, egg donors, and intended parents on a personal, human level.
CSC came to life when Angela Truppe, a mother and three-time surrogate, was pregnant with her second surrogate baby. Angela became integrated into a community of other surrogates, and saw a space that needed filling. A more heart-centered approach was needed in building families through surrogacy.
Angela wanted to create a safe community, something less like a “conveyor belt” of lawyers and clinics and confusion. It wasn’t about establishing a massive business, she says. It was truly about sharing her own experiences, connecting with intended parents and surrogates, building bridges and filling gaps in care in a more intimate way.
Her experience as a surrogate to three babies over ten years has given Angela a ton of insight. She’s built relationships, partnered with fertility clinics and lawyers, and has brought her industry knowledge to intended parents who may be struggling with all the working parts of their journey to grow their family.
“The most valuable piece is in me saying, ‘Let me take it from you, let me help you by steering you through each part of the way—from start to finish,’” she tells us.
Angela’s favourite part of the work she does is when intended parents first match with their surrogate, which seems to reflect the emphasis on kindness and compassion in CSC. The stages after matching—the conception, the pregnancy, the birth—are clearly critical, but Angela finds the emotional reward of watching people find each other, as they realize they’re loved, accepted and chosen, to be the best aspect of the job.
With all her lived experience, Angela knows what to look for in someone interested in becoming a surrogate. She knows how empowering the position is, and how rewarding it is to see you’ve helped complete a person’s family. She also knows it requires a tremendous amount of strength, commitment and resilience.
The screening process takes a few months, and by the end, Angela is assured that the surrogates are ready to go on this remarkable journey.
“It’s not always butterflies and sunshine,” she says, adding that a very strong sense of compassion and empathy are needed to understand the trauma intended parents have already gone through.
But, as she knows, that empowerment, that feeling of knowing you’ve helped, that you’ve made a choice you didn’t have to make for the sake of someone else, is priceless.
Working alongside Angela is Agatha Wisniowska, a mother whose son was brought into the world via surrogate. She has been with CSC for almost two years. Her role complements Angela’s as she specifically helps intended parents embark on their journey, and supports them throughout.
As Agatha can attest, the intended parent voyage is often lonely, and not everyone can understand the roller coaster ride of emotion one goes through when having a baby through surrogate. Her goal is to provide resources and to create a community for intended parents, so they can connect and share their stories and struggles. It’s intimate and very personal for Agatha, as she’s been through these struggles herself.
“I understand their journey from beginning to end. I understand their frustrations. I understand the emotional trauma they’ve gone through,” she says, in reference to individuals and couples who have faced infertility. “There’s a level of knowing that they just don’t need to explain to me. I can give them a place where they’re understood and heard and valued, and I can let them know their journey is valid and their emotions are valid.”
Agatha has plenty of additional life experience outside of the surrogacy field that enhances her ability to help intended parents. She’s worked in public relations, in international development, as a Montessori teacher, and as a tour guide, to name a few. But in CSC, she has truly found her calling.
“I’m home. I’m happy,” she says. “It’s not a job. I breathe it. I live it.”
The amount of people it takes to bring a baby into the world via surrogacy—the intended parents, the surrogate (and often her partner), the doctors, the nurses, even the Uber drivers—means it is truly a labour of love. It’s a journey that Agatha says helped her realize her struggles were all meant for something greater.
“I would tell my younger self that in your time of darkness, there are going to be people telling you that there’s a reason you’re going through this, and know that there is a reason, there is a purpose. You can’t have the good without the bad. You can’t be grateful if you haven’t been sad or angry. You need this balance in life. It teaches you resilience.”
You can read more about Agatha’s and Angela’s stories, along with lots of useful information on surrogacy, by visiting their blog.