In Search of a Surrogate

a personal story

About our intended parent

It was a balmy Texas morning, and I was feeling frustrated that my teenage son was not back in school, as we were still waiting on COVID vaccines to come out. As I was preparing for an intended parent consultation with a single woman, I reminisced about quarantine and how the sudden change in routine and seeing the world suffer had afforded me gratitude and a clearer perspective. I remembered so many people we work with would feel fortunate to have a child in their home. 

I took a deep breath, opened the call, and was greeted by the kindest smile I had seen in a long while. Through her window, a glimmer of morning light hit the crystals of the living room lamp, and every time she smiled, her curly brown hair turned different iridescent shades of this light, and it felt eerily fitting based on the story she told. No matter what, she was always finding glimmers of light in difficult situations.

Almost every client we have the pleasure of getting to know has walked a long and winding path to Alcea, and most paths are lined with disappointment, trauma, fear, and sadness. While this first meeting had all these elements therein, I was left with the sense that this client was unbelievably special and that helping her find a surrogate was the exact reason we are called to do what we do.

Those who know her best would say she is kind and gracious. An activist warrior, she exudes compassion in every element of her life. We tell her story below – in her own words – hoping to spark joy in the heart of someone interested in being a gestational carrier. -Angela Richardson-Mook, Alcea Co-Founder and Executive Director

In her own words

After my marriage ended in 2016, I started over. I bought a new home, built a new community and created my own modern family of close friends. It’s been a full life. But something has always been missing: children of my own to love and raise. My arms are empty.

Why not just find a new partner? We all know it’s never that easy and our biological clocks don’t necessarily sync with the timeline for developing a relationship. The last thing I wanted was to be with the wrong person just so I could have a child. Several men I met also couldn’t handle the pressure of an accelerated timeline to try for children, so I began to research ways of becoming a single mother by choice. A superstitious person who has had her share of heartbreak, I have been fiercely private about this dream, only letting in a small pool of trusted friends and mentors. In my heart, I knew I was making the right choice. 

In 2018, I went to register for the sperm bank and needed my doctor’s signature on the form. Though single parenthood by choice is becoming more common, there is still a stigma, and I was nervous to discuss it with my gynecologist. To my surprise, she actually jumped up and hugged me! I was stunned, and she’s been one of my strongest champions ever since. I chose a donor and, at the doctor’s suggestion, tried home insemination three times. Each time was filled with hope, then anxiety, and finally disappointment as I realized I wasn’t pregnant.

I became committed to finding the best way to conceive and determined to make it happen however I could. Within a year, I was visiting the fertility clinic to undergo thorough testing, minor surgery, and a number of unsuccessful intrauterine insemination (IUI) procedures, which the doctor recommended (and many insurance companies require) before switching to IVF. After all, a friend conceived her son on her first IUI; I was hopeful it would work for me too. Spoiler alert: it didn’t…

Hope shattered

In January 2020, I was ready to start IVF, but my baseline hormones were high for two consecutive months. As I started a promising new medication protocol in March, theCOVID-19 pandemic struck and my fertility clinic closed just two days into the regimen. My cycle was canceled. When the clinic finally reopened a few months later, that next cycle was postponed due to an ovarian cyst taking up valuable real estate. Waiting, month after month is so hard. 

Finally, I was able to complete my first IVF cycle, and it was a fresh, successful transfer. I was pregnant! I was elated! I felt that all of my time and efforts were finally coming to fruition! Then it all came crumbling down. At eight weeks, I heard the heartbeat. Two weeks later at the next ultrasound, it was gone. I had miscarried.

A year of loss and uncertainty

There aren’t words that can really describe the devastation I felt at losing a long-anticipated pregnancy. I ended up having to have major fibroid surgery with an extended healing period of six months. Coupled with an already low embryo count and declining fertility, I felt I had nowhere to turn. And to top it all off, the amazing and compassionate women I had befriended through the fertility clinic’s pandemic support group were all pregnant and due when I would have been. As happy as I was and remain for them, I had to mourn for my loss and try to move forward. I chose to do a second and third IVF cycle to bank embryos while my uterine walls were healing.

Waiting for twice the length I was initially told I’d need to recover from surgery was tremendously difficult and completely outside my control. I turned 40 in that window, and my hope started to rise with vaccines on the horizon and a frozen embryo transfer a matter of weeks away. Trying to check the last boxes before a transfer, I went in for my baseline mammogram, a routine test that may have saved my life. Lo and behold, the doctors nearly missed but found, a tiny growth. The biopsy showed an abnormal papilloma. In 95% of cases, everything comes back fine, so I was cleared to start the medication regimen for a frozen embryo transfer.

Unfortunately, that tiny growth in my body was in the rare 5%, and I was diagnosed with a stage 1 cancer in my right breast – a diagnosis that came exactly one week before the scheduled transfer. In consultation with the care team – made entirely of women my age – we did an emergency IVF cycle to bank any last embryos before radiation. That cycle, done under significant stress and duress, ended up being my best. 

In the end, I needed two surgeries and radiation. The prognosis is strong. I lucked out – it could have been so much worse – but the timing is devastating. Tumors that are responsive to estrogen and progesterone are considered “favorable pathology” in the world of breast cancer, but it means I need to maintain a low estrogen environment with hormone therapy. Because of that, pregnancy isn’t advised, at least for several years. After so many years of planning and trying, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.

A new beginning with surrogacy

Friends who don’t fully understand say “at least you have options; why not adopt?” For those who haven’t walked this road, the grief is profound, and adoption is not an easy, affordable, or certain path by any means. Convinced I reached the end of the road in building a family, my therapist encouraged me to explore surrogacy, ultimately convincing me it could be a viable path. 

After interviewing several agencies, I felt incredibly overwhelmed, even with a dear friend stepping in to help with the initial research. The process is daunting, the wait can be long, there is still unfortunately stigma for single parents, and nothing feels quite right. I was so discouraged until my therapist mentioned that one of her clients – a single dad! – recently signed with Alcea. I felt immediately drawn to the inclusive messaging on their website and a founder who is out to disrupt the industry. Angela thinks outside the box and brings the invaluable perspective of having been a carrier. All of that resonated with me.

The Alcea team is working hard to find me a surrogate, and I am keeping the faith. I’m focusing on self-care and staying as healthy as possible for my future as a parent. I know that not all of my embryos will be viable, but I hope and pray that at least one will be. Any child(ren) that comes out of this journey will be cherished and loved beyond what I can put in words. They will have a community of aunties and uncles around the world and from all walks of life to help me raise them.

Help us help her

Today, despite all she has weathered, she stands a warm and compassionate sister, aunt, friend, neighbor, and coworker. Thoughtful, caring, and firmly dedicated to doing good in this world, this intended parent approaches life with a big heart. Her culture talks about people with righteous souls; this is how she lives and how she wants to be remembered. We think she’s well on her way and that anyone who has the chance to work with her is truly fortunate. 

If this story compels you and surrogacy is in your heart, we’d love to hear from you! Contact Alcea Surrogacy directly at 917.597.9380 or email If you know someone who would be a good fit in assisting this intended mother grow her family, Alcea is offering a special referral bonus on her behalf.