…we’ve collectively been able to make thousands of people’s dreams of becoming parents come true. Being able to guide and support someone through such a significant time in their life is such a rewarding feeling. Our mission is to provide a complete experience that is unique and compassionate for intended parents and gestational surrogates. Our goal is to support, facilitate, consult and implement a comprehensive journey for a seamless and stress-free process.
As part of my series about “companies and organizations making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Westerfield, Director of Surrogacy Engagement and Matching. As a mother of three children and an active gestational carrier, Emily Westerfield knows the ins and outs of surrogacy. Having carried both singletons and multiples, she’s experienced in the processes, legality and array of emotions that surrogacy entails. Emily is a partner with Dr. Nicolas Shamma of Gift of Life Surrogacy Agency located in Ohio. Having helped hundreds of families (and counting) throughout their surrogacy journeys, Emily’s ability to guide her patients through the surrogacy process makes the entire experience less stressful and more successful.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I had a cousin who struggled with fertility. It was absolutely heartbreaking to watch her go through this difficult time in her life. She was able to conceive, but not able to sustain a pregnancy. She kept having loss after loss and each one took a piece of her heart. I wanted to badly to help her, but how? After months and months of researching and understanding what Surrogacy was, I decided this was one way I could help her. I could be her surrogate! Knowing that there were so many other people in the world facing the same struggles, and obviously me not being able to carry for everyone, I decided to assist in starting a company that would help intended parents and carriers with their surrogacy journeys.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Being able to partner with a renowned fertility doctor and provide our clients with a full service concierge experience to cater to their every need has been incredible. We have had such a positive response since launching and being able to share my story and give hope to others is such a great feeling.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I tried to do it on my own. Big mistake. The saying is true — “It takes a village”. Without having my amazing team to support, delegate, brainstorm, etc. — I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Just by talking about surrogacy and getting the conversation out there to educate people on the information and the process of surrogacy has been huge. People struggling with infertility can understand the ins and outs of this process to make an educated decision about this path to parenthood. Carriers at the same time can be advised on how they can help others in such a big way by giving the gift of life.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?
It’s hard to talk about “just one” as we’ve collectively been able to make thousands of people’s dreams of becoming parents come true. Being able to guide and support someone through such a significant time in their life is such a rewarding feeling. Our mission is to provide a complete experience that is unique and compassionate for intended parents and gestational surrogates. Our goal is to support, facilitate, consult and implement a comprehensive journey for a seamless and stress-free process.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Believe it or not, as we near the end of 2019, there are still states that surrogacy is illegal and some states that carriers are only allowed to carry for a specific type of couple. It’s such a difficult hurdle for singles, same sex couples and members of the LGBTQ community to have a child. Surrogacy needs to be talked about more and people need to be educated on the process. It really is a beautiful thing.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership to me is setting a positive example and making a change in the world. Being a part of something much bigger than yourself. I strive to do just that.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Don’t listen to the haters. There are going to be people in this world who are jealous or want to tear you down. Continue to do what you know is for the greater good to help others. If people are trying to bring you down, it only means that you are above them.
2. There is nothing shameful in hiring people to help you. This one took me a long time to grasp. For so long I thought if I wasn’t doing everything myself, I would be considered a failure which is the complete opposite of a successful CEO. That includes hiring a coach, if professional athletes have coaches why wouldn’t I?
3. Don’t take things personally. When a client or carrier tells you no or turns down your service, it’s not about you. It’s about them finding the best fit for themselves, their budget, their personality, their lifestyle. if you aren’t it, don’t take it personally.
4. Competition isn’t scary, it’s helpful. There are competitors in almost every single brand/field out there. Competition gives you drive to be better, offer more, and put your best face forward. Relish in the fact that you strive to be the best.
5. Under promise and over deliver. It’s hard not to tell the client how you will deliver everything they desire and then some, but when they have expectations set so high and you don’t deliver, they are left feeling disappointed. Offer just the adequate amount of what’s needed, and then go above and beyond without them expecting it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love nothing more than to host an annual fundraiser with live and silent auctions, live music, games, drinks, etc. and to be able to grant that money to Intended Parents to assist in the costs of fertility medications and procedures or utilizing a gestational surrogate.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Either you run the day, or the day runs you!”
Taking charge in my every day has allowed me to be in control. I am responsible for the words I say and the choices I make. I have no one to blame but myself for my past or future. I run my world.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Ellen DeGeneres — she helps so many people in the world and is a true inspiration. She always chooses kindness and I would love to be able to have a private meal with her just to enjoy her incredible personality and presence.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!