It may have been years since George & Suzi worked with Reproductive Possibilities to build their family, but their bond and connection remain strong! Alyssa Scheffler, our Marketing & Social Media Specialist, developed an online friendship with Mom Suzi and has been lucky enough to watch their daughter Hopelyn “grow up” through pictures and updates throughout the last 6 years.
Their surrogate Ashley, a young mom from Texas, has also kept a strong bond and friendship with the family. Spanning the 6 years since Hopelyn’s arrival, Surro Ashley and Mom Suzi have become the best of friends and have found ways to stay close even states apart. They have visited each other at least once a year and both families have gained lifelong friends.
George & Suzi’s family is complete and baby Hopelyn has grown into a beautiful little girl (almost identical to mom!). With such a sweet and interesting story, Alyssa asked Suzi if we could interview her and feature them as our first family feature. With a resounding yes and some picture help from Ashley, we are proud to share our first Family Feature with you!
A: Tell us about yourselves! How did you meet and how long have you been together?
S: We had known each other for years through our church, as both of our daughters attended Catholic school together. One evening, at a mutual friend’s barbecue, things just clicked and we saw each other in a different light! From that evening on we became inseparable. We have been together for 11 years and married for 9. George is a CPA, and Suzi is a grant writer for a local technical high school.
A: If you don’t mind sharing; what are the circumstances that required you needing a surrogate?
S: When I (Suzi) was just 29 years old, I needed a hysterectomy for endometriosis and adenomyosis. The surgery was performed at the same time as a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
A: When you decided to create or build your family, did you explore both surrogacy and adoption or did you always know that surrogacy was right for you?
S: We always knew surrogacy was right for us. Very early into our relationship we knew we were going to be together, and of course, a child was part of that equation. So, I told George there was a way to become biological parents, but that way was (gestational) surrogacy. George never flinched, and from that moment on, our decision to pursue surrogacy was made.
A: Did you tell your family and friends about using a surrogate to have your baby(ies)? If so, how did you tell them?
S: Yes, we were very honest about our plans from the get-go. We were blessed to be surrounded by nothing but love and complete support from our family and friends.
A: If you had/have older children (from before the surrogacy), how did you explain what was happening and that they would have a new sibling?
S: Fortunately, our children were older (ages 15, 14, and 13), so they easily understood the scientific element of the process, and they were super excited to have a new baby in the family!
A: What made you choose Reproductive Possibilities as your agency?
S: Easy! Our reproductive endocrinologist (Dr. Castelbaum at RMA Philadelphia) only recommended Reproductive Possibilities. We did come in to meet with Melissa Brisman and her team to make sure we felt comfortable proceeding, and it was very reassuring (to us) that Melissa herself was a mother through surrogacy. We never had any doubts about our agency going forward.
A: When interviewing potential surrogates, what things were most important to you and what made you ultimately choose Ashley?
S: We were looking for more than a surrogate – we really wanted to match with a woman who would want a long-term relationship with us. Ashley was the first surrogate we interviewed, and by the end of our first teleconference, we were finishing each other’s sentences!
A: Did the location/distance of the surrogate matter to you and if so, why?
S: It did not matter to us. The quality of our match, finding a woman we could trust implicitly, a woman we adored and who adored our child was much more important to us than her location.
A: What was your relationship like with your surrogate? Did you communicate often?
S: Our relationship with Ashley was and still is amazing! We made it a point to at least speak weekly during the pregnancy and we visited Ashley in Texas for her 20 week scan. At that time, we took a tour of her hometown, met her family, and spent a few days at her home just getting to know each other better. As the pregnancy progressed, our relationship far surpassed that of Surrogate and Intended Mother – We were like sisters, and we still are to this day, six years after our daughter’s birth.
A: What was the big D-Day (delivery day!) like? What was it like to hold and meet your … for the first time?
S: D-Day was a day full of flurry! George and I had plane tickets to fly to Texas the day Ashley hit the 38th week of her pregnancy, but, Hopelyn had other plans! Ashley called us at 5am on Tuesday, May 7th, 2013, to inform them that her water broke at 37 weeks. George began frantically calling airlines, and, was able to get us a flight to San Antonio leaving from Newark International. As soon as George hung up the phone, we had to literally toss whatever clothing was clean into a suitcase, grab the baby’s carseat, and, run to the airport – we didn’t even have time to shower! We missed the birth by about two hours, so, the hospital kept the baby in the NICU until we arrived. Upon arrival at the hospital, we had to provide identification to an armed guard to have access to our baby– that was pretty surreal for us. It was like the gravity and uniqueness of the situation hit us like a ton of bricks. When we entered the NICU, we scrubbed in, and were escorted to a layette where the most beautiful little baby was waiting for us. We were in awe – we couldn’t even speak – tears just kept pouring down our faces. It was the most magical feeling you could imagine.
A: Do you still keep in contact with your gestational surrogate?
S: Just a month after Hopelyn’s birth, Ashley flew to Pennsylvania for Hopelyn’s christening and two years later, Ashley chose me to be godmother of her new daughter, Charlotte. We’ve made it a point to visit each other at least once a year, whether it be in Texas or Pennsylvania. Ashley and I have a deep bond that can never be broken. It’s like we’re more than friends – we’re soul sisters for life!
A: What surprised you about becoming a parent through surrogacy?
S: We were fortunate to receive more than a baby through our journey – we gained a whole new family! Ashley’s family became our family, and, vice versa. We don’t miss the big events in each others’ lives, and we never will. Our relationship is just the icing on the cake in a truly beautiful and miraculous journey.
A: What is something you wish you knew BEFORE starting the surrogacy process?
S: Before the surrogacy process, I wish I’d known just how advanced science is. For instance, my anxiety was so high during the “two week wait” that I could barely speak at times. As we waited, Erlynn, our nurse coordinator (at RMA Philadelphia), made it a point to frequently remind me that the odds were in our favor. Still, I worried and worried. After our pregnancy and baby’s heartbeat were confirmed, it was time to leave Dr. Castelbaum and head to a traditional OB/GYN for care. I wasn’t ready! As I experienced two second trimester losses myself, I was convinced that something would go wrong. Instead, we enjoyed a beautiful, complication free pregnancy.
I also wish I’d known just how close we would become to Ashley and her family. While we’d hoped for a close relationship, we never could have predicted just how close we would become. I mean, I am her child’s Godmother – what an honor! When Ashley asked me to be her daughter’s godmother, she told me she wanted her “to grow to become as strong a woman as I am”. I had no idea Ashley considered ME to be “strong,” and I was never so honored in my life.
A: Do you have any advice for Intended Parents just starting out?
S: Keep the faith! It can be discouraging at times, and there may be days when you think you just cannot go on. When that baby is born, all of the pain and heartache that proceeded that moment instantly go away!
We (RP) are so honored and thrilled to have been even a small part of their incredible story. If you are considering starting/building your family through surrogacy or if you are thinking about becoming a gestational surrogate, please contact us for more information!