What started as a business with a virtual address client at The Beaverton Round Executive Suites in 2014, has received the Better Business Bureau's highest honor in the Northwest for 2017: the Torch Award.
All Families Surrogacy assists families worldwide and serves about 100 clients each year.
"We are so grateful to the Better Business Bureau for all it does to create an ethical marketplace and support consumers as well as businesses," said Carey Flamer-Powell, founder and director of All Families Surrogacy. "We are honored to be recognized by the BBB for our rigorous standards and deep dedication to the people we work with from around the world."
Torch Award finalists and winners are determined by an independent panel of volunteer judges, made of up of Better Business Bureau members, local Oregon Chambers of Commerce members and local business owners. Following a nomination period, the competition awards businesses based on six criteria standards centered around ethics, character, purpose, organizational performance and active engagement with people and community.
The Torch Award is the highest honor within the Better Business Bureau Northwest's program for ethics and excellence in business, All Families Surrogacy was selected from nine other finalists throughout Oregon. All Families Surrogacy received the award via a Facebook live-streamed ceremony on Nov. 14, with Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau, Northwest, Stephen Mayer.
Flamer-Powell's passion for surrogacy began when she and her wife conceived their daughter through the assistance of third-party reproduction in 2011. Flamer-Powell knew then that she wanted to help another person or couple build a family.
Flamer-Powell is an out lesbian and experienced gestational carrier — which is a woman who carries a child for another couple, but the carrier is not the biological mother of the child, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Flamer-Powell once struggled with infertility but later delivered a healthy baby boy for a lesbian couple.
Mayer said at a small celebration at The Round, that he was honored and thrilled to present the award to such an amazing company.
After many years of research and experiencing a rewarding surrogacy journey of her own, Flamer-Powell founded All Families Surrogacy with the intention of making surrogacy accessible to every person and couple. Having been a gestational carrier for an LGBT couple and being a member of the LGBT community herself, Flamer-Powell has a particular passion for assisting LGBT individuals and couples build their family.
Flamer-Powell serves as a co-founder of the Oregon Surrogacy Professionals Association and as the LGBT Advisor for Parents Via Egg Donation. She is as an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and serves on the Grievance Committee for the Society for Ethics in Egg Donation and Surrogacy, a nonprofit organization founded by a group of egg donation and surrogacy agencies, whose purpose is to define and promote ethical behavior by all parties involved in third party reproduction. Flamer-Powell's professional background includes 20 years of experience in legal, operations, management and public relations.
"Ethical practice in surrogacy is a must," Flamer-Powell said. "It is at the heart of what we do. Without it, we do not have the trust of the surrogates, families, or medical community we partner with over the course of a surrogacy journey. We are delighted to be recognized by the Better Business Bureau for something we consider so vital to our culture as an agency."
Oregon is an international destination for gestational surrogacy, an industry banned in many states, including Washington, as well as many countries. Couples from all over the world, primarily gay and lesbian couples, come to the Oregon and pay for the opportunity to become biological parents.All Families Surrogacy focuses on helping to build families through surrogacy. It is comprised of a team including Angela Padilla, who is the surrogate case manager and an experienced gestational carrier. Padilla is an experienced surrogate who delivered twin babies to a gay male couple from France.
Her professional background includes more than 10 years in administrative and operational roles.
"Angela is known throughout the surrogacy community for having an uplifting and contagious, enthusiastic demeanor," Flamer-Powell said. "During her surrogacy journey, she realized how much she loved the process and experience of being a gestational surrogate and she knew her next chapter would involve working within the surrogacy community."
Also on the team is Elana Alpert who supports the intended parents through their entire surrogacy journey. She is a Lamaze-certified childbirth educator.
"I am extremely passionate about birth and building families in a positive, confident atmosphere," Alpert said.
One All Families Surrogacy employee was inspired to become a surrogate as a result of pop culture.
Courtney Nyman, surrogate intake coordinator, became interested in surrogacy since she saw Phoebe on the television show "Friends" carry triplets as a surrogate. After welcoming four of her own children, Nyman knew she wanted to help someone else make their family complete. In March of 2016, she delivered a set of twins for a pair of daddies. Since the birth, Nyman has been interested in helping other women become surrogates. She said she gained such joy from her journey that she wants to help other women find the same type of joy.
As a Surrogate Coordinator, Tawni Boedeker is responsible for managing all of the day-to-day aspects of each surrogate's journey and ensuring each surrogate has the support they need throughout.
Erin Erck is one of the surrogate intake coordinators for All Families Surrogacy. She is responsible for welcoming prospective surrogates, beginning with their initial interview and ensuring that each step of their screening process is successfully completed. A love of helping people combined with her passion for the surrogacy community brought Erck to All Families Surrogacy, first as surrogate, and now as an intake coordinator.
Whitney Lewis first joined the All Families Surrogacy as a gestational carrier. She delivered twins for their Israeli daddies, with whom she has become best friends. Lewis is an equal rights advocate and felt passionately about connecting with All Families Surrogacy because of their work with LGBTQ families.
Lewis has worked in the mental health and counseling field for 14 years.
All Families Surrogacy was also recently featured in USA Today.
For more information, visit allfamiliessurrogacy.com.
By Mandy Feder-Sawyer
Reporter, Beaverton Valley Times
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