CARLSBAD — Having a baby may not be so easy for some couples.
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 7 million Americans deal with infertility every day.
Stephanie and Mario Caballero struggled with infertility for years, resulting in Stephanie having to undergo 10 artificial inseminations, surgeries, 13 in vitro fertilizations, and miscarriages.
The dream of parenthood faded with each attempt, but new hope emerged when Stephanie’s cousin became her surrogate and gave birth to their twins.
Today, the twins are 12.
It was the heartache of infertility and ultimately realizing the different options for parenthood, which inspired Stephanie, who is also an attorney, to open Extraordinary Conceptions in 2005.
Stephanie’s husband, Mario, joined the company a year later serving as executive director.
In under a decade, Extraordinary Conceptions, headquartered in Carlsbad, has transformed into an international agency which matches surrogates and egg donors to couples and individuals, also known as “intended parents.”
Stephanie admits she did not have a specific vision when she founded her company.
“The goal that Mario and I both did have, though, was to help as many people have a baby wherever they were and to see the joy on their faces,” Stephanie said. “To help people in the U.S.A., China, France, Germany or even Italy — to help someone have a baby is the best job ever.”
Stephanie wants people to know that there is no average couple that comes to them for help. While numerous issues cause infertility, others may face it due to cancer treatments and even those born without a uterus. And Extraordinary Conceptions also helps gay couples that yearn to be parents.
For Mario, who was by his wife’s side during eight years of infertility, the obvious emotional frustrations were also punctuated by the changing of doctors and not receiving the right information.
“It seemed that people were more interested in our wallets than helping us and we learned a lot over those years,” Mario said.
Invariably, this helped Mario and Stephanie fine-tune Extraordinary Conceptions to become a company of fairness and compassion.
“What this company does is educate potential clients on all the different roads as far as egg donation and surrogacy to achieve fertility,” he said.
According to Mario, since Extraordinary Conceptions opened its doors, for the first initial years they helped five to 10 couples per month. Now, they average 20 to 30 couples every month.
Mario went on to say they have expanded internationally for many years and it continues to be a focus.
“There are people in so many countries that are not allowed to do in vitro fertilization after the age of 40,” he said. Mario continued, “Some counties also have limitations about having a child if someone is in a wheelchair, specific disease and restrictive policies, and where surrogacy is banned.”
Because of this, foreign couples travel to the U.S.
“They especially come to California where surrogacy is legal and legitimate to have a child; and, to have the name of the clients on the birth certificate the moment their child takes its first breath,” Mario said.
Stephanie said when their focus went international they wanted to make sure they had people on staff who spoke various languages such as French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese.
Be it a phone call or “intended parents” flying thousands of miles to the United States, this was a comforting welcome.
Stephanie attributes their business growth because it comes from the heart.
After the grieving process of infertility, Stephanie said, couples come to realize there are other options for becoming parents.
“It may not have been the way you thought or wanted — but if you really want it, you can get it,” she said.
Mario said a common misconception he runs into is people thinking a business like theirs is focused on financial gains. Not for Extraordinary Conceptions, Mario said, because their policy is helping the client first.
“Even if clients decide not to work with us after we invested hundreds of hours, just educating them toward making the right choice is our goal,” Mario said.
“Everyone deserves the love of a child and no one should be denied that right.”