With more than 20 years of experience, Eran Amir has worked as both a software development and product management executive in Israel and the Greater New York Area. The development of GoStork combines his professional skill-set with a personal mission. After undergoing a long, difficult, and costly process to expand his family via surrogacy and egg donation, Amir vowed to help other intended parents avoid the complexity and confusion he experienced. His passion led to the creation of GoStork, which proudly names Amir’s four-year-old daughter as its co-founder.
Getting there was quite the fertility journey though, as for me it included surrogacy, egg donation and IVF. There were so many barriers to overcome (including two rounds of egg donor IVF for the second gestational carrier pregnancy), but I’m grateful for every single step that led me to my amazing daughters, Ariel and Yael. I also learned so much during my fertility journey, emerging as a new father who wants to help other intended parents start this demanding (yet highly rewarding) process themselves.
This is what inspired GoStork, the first fertility marketplace where fertility patients find, compare and connect with top fertility providers much more easily.
But, first things first…
My surrogacy and egg donor story
My story began in 2016.
Starting my family was so much more difficult than I ever could have expected. I spent weeks, completely losing track of the countless hours, weeding through many different websites and information sources. I didn’t have friends or family who’d gone through surrogacy. I didn’t know which agency to choose, or how to make the choice. I had no idea what the roadmap ahead looked like, and got frustrated with the lack of transparency around pricing, or any way to compare – apples to apples – the agencies I found. And, I didn’t get support as a gay father (without an infertility diagnosis) from my company’s insurance policy. The list goes on.
I needed an egg donor as well and – similar to how my surrogacy agency search began – it was far more difficult than expected to find ‘the one’. I had specific criteria that I was looking for and each egg donor agency had limited inventory, so I had to go to four different agencies (completing the registration process for each – some I even needed to pay for, just to access) before I matched with the wonderful donor for both of my girls. I’ve now learned this is a common experience for many other intended parents, so if you’re going through it as well, I can relate!
Eventually I began to piece things together, got a referral from a friend of a friend of a friend, made a plan, and started my journey. Three months later, I matched with a wonderful gestational carrier (surrogate). Everything then really fell into place in June 2018, with the birth of my amazing little Ariel.
My journey to parenthood soon became the inspiration for an exciting new professional path. A year after my daughter was born, I left the career I’d worked over 20 years to build and, leaning on my technology and product skillset, I began to create GoStork, the first marketplace where intended parents can easily find, compare and connect with top fertility providers. With a mission to bring transparency to the fertility industry, helping intended parents make informed decisions about their fertility providers, it’s exactly what I would have wanted when I was lost and at the beginning of my search.
It’s been a labor of love (some days more labor than love), but in 2020, we launched GoStork.com, first with both egg donor and surrogacy agency marketplaces. We’ve since grown to feature 60 top surrogacy agencies, over 10,000 egg donors aggregated from many different egg donor agencies,fertility financing, a concierge service offering one-on-one support and, our latest offering – a fertility clinic marketplace, featuring many of the USA’s top fertility clinics and centers. GoStork is the only place where you can search leading fertility providers across the US, filter by requirements and preferences, and use a unique one-click comparison tool to compare them side-by-side for all criteria. You can also correspond directly with clinics through a HIPAA-compliant chat tool, and book consultations through a unique calendar-integrated booking system. Everything, in a carefully-created one-stop shop.
The only platform listing fertility clinic/provider costs upfront
Transparency is a huge priority for us. So GoStork is currently the only platform which lists all provider fees upfront (including detailed cost breakdowns), helping intended parents and fertility patients save both time and money as they map out their TTC journey.
GoStork’s top tips for choosing a clinic, donor or agency
We’ve put together a few helpful tips, based on personal experience and those of the amazing GoStork community, to help you research and navigate your own path to parenthood. These focus specifically on factors to consider when choosing a fertility clinic, an egg donor and/or a surrogacy agency. These decisions are highly personal, but knowing what to ask and what to look for may help you reach a more informed decision.
GoStork helps you match with your ideal clinics, based on their experience and success rates matched to your personal journey (including age and the services you require). We also include the clinic’s location, costs, patient ratings and reviews, doctors’ experience and more.
So you can sort and select based on what’s important to you, but here’s a more general outline of what to look for, when researching your options:
Clinic success rates and experience – what are the success rates for patients with similar cases to yours, including your age and the fertility services you’ll need? This data can help you get a better idea, for example, of your chance of success per IVF cycle or embryo transfer. GoStork makes this part easier for you, as we share each clinic’s most relevant success rates based on your personal roadmap, taking both your age and the services you need into consideration.
Doctor’s certifications and experience – are your providers board-certified? Where did they attend medical school? Take into consideration the experience, education, and training (and even languages spoken, if important to you) for the doctors who’ll be assisting you along the way.
Patient ratings and reviews – look at past patients’ thoughts and experiences to gain insight into the fertility clinic, its practices and even how welcoming it may feel.
Costs – find out treatment costs, so that you can plan your treatment or IVF journey. GoStork shows you an estimated total cost based on your personal journey for each clinic – important transparency you can’t find anywhere else.
Location – a clinic close to you, or potentially to your egg donor or gestational carrier, can help reduce overall costs. If location isn’t important, you may want to consider a clinic with specific experience dealing with cases similar to yours, as a higher priority.
Choosing your egg donor
When reviewing and selecting anegg donor, you’re presented with a large amount of information. This can be overwhelming, but let’s face it – the more info the better! Donor profiles onGoStork include physical attributes, education level/achievements (such as grades and scores), medical and reproductive history, as well as family history, ethnicity and religion. To get started, you’ll want to decide which characteristics matter to you, personally.
Here’s a list of criteria you may need to consider, when selecting your egg donor:
Age – age is one of the most important factors when it comes to a woman’s fertility. The standard recommendations are for egg donors to be aged 21-34, but if you prefer a donor on either the younger or older end of that spectrum, that’s your decision.
BMI – donors must have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18-27, but as far as the donor’s specific weight, that may be a consideration which is important to you.
Medical history– this covers personal health history (ideally, a non-smoker, non-drug user and non-alcohol dependent, has no STDs, and is not undergoing treatment for depression or anxiety – these elements are pre-vetted and indicated for you to consider). Plus, family health history (i.e you’d be looking for egg donor profiles with no family history of genetic disorders, and no significant family history of cancer).
Reproductive history – if applicable, you’ll see information about ‘proven fertility’ in egg donor profiles – i.e a previous successful pregnancy shows that the donor has the potential to provide healthy eggs. You may also learn that the donor has donated eggs beforehand, that resulted in a successful pregnancy. In some cases, you can see how many eggs her prior cycles yielded.
Appearance – you’ll see the donors’ photos, (ideally current, as well as from childhood) and – when available – videos, natural hair color, eye color, height, and, as already mentioned, you’ll see her weight. Many intended parents are interested in donors with similar physical features to themselves, their partner, or a combination of both, whilst others are interested in dissimilar features. Again, these are personal decisions and any preference is valid.
Personal background – this can range across heritage, religion, characteristics, education, career, and even criminal record. This is obviously a wide range of criteria – so, just to explore one example: a donor with a graduate degree or high test scores may be someone you’re looking for. So, you may, as a starting point, filter your options through the lens of your desired standard of education. Also, many intended parents look for egg donors with a similar heritage or religious background to themselves.
Compensation – egg donor fees can range from $5,000 to $20,000 – with the lower end indicating a first time egg donor and the higher end being charged by more experienced egg donors. Education level will also affect these costs.
Location – an egg donor close to your fertility clinic can help save you money, when covering her travel costs. That said, this may not be a priority for you!
Choosing a surrogacy agency
A surrogacy agency can be a pivotal resource on the journey to becoming a parent. If you’re considering surrogacy, agencies provide a broad range of services to make the experience as straightforward as possible. They also ensure that the process is completed safely and in-line with all legal requirements. Here’s a list of factors to consider, as you research your options:
Agency experience – how long has the agency operated for and how many babies have been born through its program?
Gestational carrier screening process – agencies must screen gestational carriers (GCs) before introducing them to the intended parents. Make sure that the agency has met the GC in person and carried out the necessary social worker, psychological and medical screenings, and financial and criminal background checks. Find out what percentage of applicants are accepted, to get an idea of how selective the agency is. If the GC’s location is important to you (i.e if she’s near your fertility clinic), it will save on travel costs, among other considerations.
Reputation, ratings and reviews – what do other intended parents say about the agency and its staff? Has the agency ever been sued by clients or surrogates? Does it have any pending lawsuits? Getting answers to these questions will help you evaluate the agency’s professionalism, and ability to navigate the matching process.
Services offered – these vary quite broadly. Some agencies are a one-stop shop for all things surrogacy-related. Others offer partial services, and you’ll need to work with other surrogacy professionals in tandem. It’s important you’re aware of what the agency offers, and which elements of the process you’ll need to take care of yourself.
Agency staff – how many case managers does the agency have and what is their typical workload? Is there someone available to answer emergency questions 24/7? What is that process?
Costs and fees – what are the agency fees and when is the money due? Check that you have a complete breakdown of all costs involved, and what their process is for monitoring, tracking and paying the GC’s expenses. Do they have a re-match policy – in case anything changes with your initial match – a refund policy, a sibling policy (i.e a discounted fee for a second journey), or do they return un-used funds at the end of the journey?
Timeline – how long does it usually take to match with a GC? How long is a typical surrogacy journey?
Parental rights – will the agency help with establishing parental rights? For international intended parents, does the agency provide assistance with the documentation required to register with the country of origin?
I know, this is a lot of information to digest and compare when assessing your options.
But this is at the heart of why I created GoStork. Our fertility clinic, surrogacy agency and egg donor profiles offer in-depth information, covering all of the categories mentioned in this article. Our easy-to-use technology helps you compare your top-choice providers side-by-side (no more building huge spreadsheets yourself!) And, once you’re ready, you can message instantly with clinics and agencies, booking appointments directly on their calendar system. Our platform is already saving thousands of fertility patients countless hours of time and energy, while helping them make more informed decisions.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to look for when researching and selecting egg donors and surrogacy agencies. Again, whatever final decisions you make are highly personal – the right option is whatever is right for you and your needs.