Learn more about our team below.
My name is Sally Rhoads-Heinrich, and I am the owner and administrator of Surrogacy in Canada Online. I have tremendous passion for surrogacy as an alternative for infertile couples and it is with high hopes that my site is a valuable resource for information, referral and support for Canadians involved with third party reproduction.
In 2000, I was honoured to be chosen as a gestational surrogate for a Maryland couple and carry and deliver their boy and girl twins, Victoria and Peter. I had a wonderful and rewarding experience and it is a pure joy to see the family I helped create growing and loving life to the fullest.
Since the birth of the twins I have tried to help many other infertile couples by undergoing 8 more I.V.F cycles as a gestational surrogate with unfortunately no success (4 miscarriages including 1 twin ectopic). The women I had tried to help had varying types of infertility ranging from Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, to heart conditions, diabetes, hypertension, hysterectomy due to cancer/fibroids and unexplained infertility. I have also devoted my time over the last 18 years to not only our surrogacy program but to third party reproduction forums, email listservs and media.
I live in southwestern Ontario with my husband Christoph (Chris) and our four children. Together we operate Surrogacy in Canada Online and Heinrich Farms Ltd. (grain, oilseed & pork production).
In 1999, I graduated with honours as a Mental Health Counsellor from Cambrian College in Sudbury, Ontario (Native Community Care: Counselling & Development Program). I thoroughly enjoy helping both intended parents and surrogate mothers with their questions and concerns.
I feel every intended parent has the right to alternative reproductive options so that they can experience the joys of raising a child, that in most surrogacy arrangements, is genetically related to themselves.
All the best to you in your surrogacy journey!
Egg Donor/Surrogate Support Group Moderator
My name is Karen McAnerin and I've been happily married to my husband, Scott, since September 9th, 2006. We have two incredible children, Myla and Brodyn (Bo), who are extremely active and love sports, especially hockey (they both play on rep hockey teams). I was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario and moved away after graduating high school to pursue my post secondary education. In May 2005 I graduated from the Funeral Services Program at Humber College in Toronto and passed my Ontario Board Exams, officially becoming a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in August 2005. I became a stay at home Mom after our daughter was born and feel extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to stay at home with both kids. Now that they're older I volunteer often at their school - on Parent Council, with hot lunches, in the class, on field trips, etc. In the summer of 2017 we moved from our home in Bowmanville to our dream home in Brockville. It's been a big change moving 3+ hours away and away from the GTA, but life here has already been more relaxing and rewarding. We have 30+ chickens and ducks that free range on our 5 acre property and the kids now have their own little egg business - Fluffy Butts Coop.
I am now a retired egg donor, having donated 6 times (completing both anonymous and known donations) and am also a retired gestational surrogate. As a teenager I saw a documentary on surrogacy and I knew if circumstances allowed when I was older that I wanted to help give the gift of life/family to someone - even though at that age I didn’t fully understand what it meant emotionally. When Myla was born in 2007 and I was still in the hospital, I knew that once we were done having our own family (we planned on two), that I wanted to try to give someone else the opportunity of becoming parents. While in the hospital and looking down at our precious new baby girl, the thoughts of wanting and not being able to conceive children were intense and gave me such an indescribably sad feeling. Knowing how lucky we were to have our new beautiful baby, especially after a very intense and scary delivery (an emergency c-section with 52 vertical staples due to a prolapsed cord) it further pushed my desire to want to help others achieve their dreams of parenthood.
Our son Bo was born in 2009, completing our perfect family of four. With the full support of my amazing husband, I embarked on my adventure into the World of Third Party Reproduction as an egg donor. In July 2010 I had my first egg retrieval as an anonymous donor and although having limited details, I was told that the Intended Mother did indeed get pregnant. It was such a gratifying experience that it further enhanced my desire to become a gestational surrogate. Once Bo was out of the "baby" stage, we began looking for our perfect match to embark on a surrogacy journey with. After speaking with a few Intended Parents, we were extremely fortunate to meet an absolutely incredible single father-to-be (who already had frozen embryos) through Surrogacy in Canada Online. Although we met as complete strangers, the friendship and bond that formed quickly became that of family. In May 2012, with both my IF and my husband in the OR with me, I gave birth to a gorgeous baby boy, full term. Sadly it quickly became clear that he was born very sick. There were unforeseen complications with his health (that were not and could not have been diagnosed during pregnancy) and he passed away at just 8 weeks old. The experience changed me in many ways as the idea of loss is not something that I was not prepared for, especially with surrogacy when helping to create life/a family. Despite the devastating outcome of our journey, it was still such an absolutely beautiful experience , one that I'm grateful to have been a part of.
I have always had a very strong passion for helping others and when Sally asked me in August 2012 to join the SCO team and lend my assistance as her Egg Donor/Surrogate Support Worker, I enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity. I look forward to getting to know you and please don't be afraid to reach out with any questions or concerns you may have about the process.
Surrogate Support Group Moderator
My name is Sara and I live in the beautiful Niagara Region of Southern Ontario in Canada. I have lived here for most of my life and can’t imagine calling anywhere else ‘home’. Most importantly, I am of a mother of 4 (2 girls and 2 boys), as well as a lucky stepmom to my husband’s son. Being a mother has and is still one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but also the most rewarding. And that most of all is what brought me into the world of Surrogacy.
I first learned about surrogacy right after my oldest daughter was born in 2004. Surrogacy was not a common word even then, so I was fascinated when I came across an afternoon talk show featuring 2 sisters talking about their own experience with it. One was a cancer survivor, and the other acted as her surrogate. As I was watching this and held my newborn baby, a little voice in my head said, “This is something I could do. I can help someone else to have a family.” But the idea sat on the backburner in my mind because it just wasn’t my time yet.
Fast forward to 2009, and I was ready. Everywhere I looked, there were signs pointing me towards surrogacy. First in a book I had been reading, and then while looking through unrelated ads on Kijiji. It was on my favourite TV show, and also in the news. It was everywhere! After spending a few months doing my research and then approaching my now ex-husband with the idea, I began my first journey as a Gestational Surrogate. I “matched” with a traditional Jewish couple living in Toronto. Things progressed rather quickly and only 4.5 months after meeting, and a single round of IVF, I was pregnant with their baby girl. It was a textbook pregnancy, and we welcomed her to the world in July of 2010.
Several months later, after meeting friends that I had met through an online support group for intended parents and surrogates, I started on my second journey as a surrogate. Little did I know back then just how different this journey would be from the first. Between July 2011 and November 2012 I underwent 5 failed cycles of IVF with my intended fathers. With each cycle our clinic would change my medications, or suggest a new alternative therapy such as acupuncture to increase our chance of conception, but nothing worked. We couldn’t know for sure what the problem was, if it was the quality of the eggs or sperm, a possible genetic issue, or if it was just that I was the wrong surrogate. The doubt, and worry, and fear that I felt cannot possibly compare to what is felt by intended parents going through infertility treatment for themselves, but it gave me a much closer view and a better understanding of just how devastating infertility can be. If it was that bad for me, I can only imagine how terrible it feels when it is your own family that you are trying to create. My intended fathers never lost hope, or faith in me as their surrogate, so I agreed to one last transfer attempt. We transferred 2 perfect embryos on Easter Sunday in 2013, and 7 days later I finally got to say those 7 words I’d been wanting to say for over 3 years, “I’m Pregnant! You’re going to be Daddies!” Two weeks later this was followed by two more beautiful words, “It’s Twins!”
We welcomed beautiful boy/girl twins to the world in October 2013, when my water broke at exactly 32 weeks gestation. It was an easy labour, but a scary time for us all as we worried about how the twins would fair after being born so early, but after only 3 weeks of time in the NICU, they were able to go home and finally be with their fathers.
Surrogacy has brought so much to my life, and I can think of no better way to pay back my good fortune, then by helping others find their way through this process. I’m grateful to Sally for giving me the opportunity to help by offering peer support, and whatever knowledge I can to help ease the way for others who are feeling as I did several years ago.
Best Wishes and Baby Dust!
Surrogate Support Group Moderator
My name is Isabelle LeBlanc. I live in small community north of Moncton, New-Brunswick with my three kids. I currently work in retail full-time and do a little bit of photography part-time.
I've always been a big fan of the TV show "Friends", and in one of the story lines of the show, a character (Phoebe), was a surrogate mother for her brother. That is where the idea of surrogacy came from for me. I never thought I'd actually go through with it, but years later, the idea was still floating in my mind.
In August 2012, I gave birth to my third child. Even though I felt that my family was complete, I wanted to be pregnant again. Surrogacy was calling me and that's when I decided to look further into it and start my research. I wanted to help and give the gift of life to a family.
In February 2013, I "matched" with an incredible couple from Nova Scotia through Sally's website. We went through many ups and downs during our journey. We had one failed transfer, two cancelled cycles and finally, one successful transfer. In April 2015, I gave birth to their beautiful baby boy and I cannot be more proud of myself.
During those two years, I learned a lot about the surrogacy world and I'm more than happy to stay connected to it by being a part of Sally's team. I'm looking forward to help you!
Surrogate Support Group Moderator/Doula
My name is Sherri-Lyn Cranston and I have had a passion for pregnancy and birth that started when I was young. As a child, I would put big water balloons in my bathing suit and daydream of my future pregnancies. I voiced at a very young age that I wanted to help people through pregnancy and birth, aspiring to be an obstetrician when I grew up. I have shifted my focus to midwifery, and I am still pursuing that dream. That passion led me to train as a Revolutionary Doula, and dedicate myself to assisting families of all shapes and sizes through their pregnancies and birth with compassion and respect, no matter where they are coming from or what direction they are hoping to go.
After carrying and birthing my own two children, I felt my family was complete, but my love for pregnancy called me to become pregnant again as a surrogate mother; to carry a child for another family. My knowledge and passion for surrogacy and third party assisted reproduction carries into my birthwork, as I support families and individuals through these niche and multi-layered circumstances. I know that surrogates often need an understanding support person to help navigate through more complicated procedures and protocols, and the emotions that come along with them. Many surrogates need extra support as they give so much of themselves to make others’ dreams of a family come true.
I am a talented artist specializing in pregnancy and birth, using media such as belly casts, henna belly and body art, placenta art, and birth photography. Intimately woven into the birth story, every piece I produce is a unique tribute to the incredible experience of pregnancy and childbirth
Shirley Eve Levitan
Shirley has been practicing family law since 1991, and fertility law since 1996. Shirley’s office is located in Toronto, Canada, but in the context of fertility law, she assists people all over the world. Shirley has worked with clinics, hospitals, intended parents, egg/sperm donors and gestational carriers for over twenty years. She has worked with all manner of reproductive technology arrangements, and diligently ensures the required agreements conform with the changing legal landscape in Canada.
Shirley is also a leading Canadian lawyer with respect to preparing and attending to court and government applications dealing with cross border, national and international, birth registration issues that arise in the context of assisted reproductive technology. Shirley is the first lawyer in Ontario to have obtained a parentage declaration in a surrogacy situation in which the intended parents had no genetic connection to the child. She has been invited to speak at conferences and seminars in both Canada and the US, including the Ontario Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the National Judges Institute (Ontario), the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, the University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall Law School, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys, of which she is an elected Fellow.
Shirley is currently on the Executive of the Law Special Interest Group of the CFAS (Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society). Shirley is one of the few lawyers in Canada who has extensive experience in both family law and fertility law, and as a result, has a unique understanding of how these two worlds intersect.
Sara R. Cohen, LL.B.
Sara R. Cohen, LL.B. is a fertility law lawyer based in Toronto, with clients throughout Canada and beyond. Sara is the founder of Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP where her entire practice is devoted exclusively to the practice of fertility law, and is the most well-known fertility lawyer in Canada. She regularly acts for intended parents, surrogates, donors, cryobanks, hospitals, distributors and fertility clinics on a wide range of fertility law issues.
Prior to her career as a fertility lawyer, Sara practiced commercial litigation and public law (including constitutional law issues) at Canada’s then largest firm.
Sara has recently been named by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada. She is the co-chair of the Ethics and Law Special Interest Group of Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, a director of Fertility Matters Canada, and an adjunct professor of reproductive law at Osgoode Hall Law School. Sara co-chaired Canada’s first national symposium on fertility law in Canada, is one of two international members of the executive council of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Committee of the ABA’s Family Law Section, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys (AAARTA). Sara has given expert testimony on third party reproduction and legal parentage issues at Queen’s Park for the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
Sara has been published on issues relating to reproductive law in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, Huffington Post, and Lawyers Weekly and a frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail on fertility law issues. She is an in-demand speaker, having lectured at Suffolk University Law School, University of Toronto, Osgoode Hall Law School, McMaster University, AAARTA, Canadian Bar Association, Ontario Bar Association, Law Society of Upper Canada, American Bar Association, National Family Law Program, CLEBC, and Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. She is the winner of the 2013 Precedent Setter Award and a Clawbie Award for her blog about fertility law in Canada.
Sara R. Cohen
Dara Roth Edney
Assisted Fertility/Infertility Counsellor
My name is Dara Roth Edney and I have been practicing social work since 2000, with a Master’s degree from the University of Toronto. I was born in Montreal, Quebec but now live in downtown Toronto with my partner and our two daughters, both of whom were carried by wonderful gestational surrogates after our years long battle with infertility.
My personal struggle began back in 1998 and over the years, included countless invasive tests, surgeries, medications, unsuccessful intrauterine inseminations (IUI), numerous in-vitro fertilizations (IVF) and more anguish than I can express. During this period, while immersed in my own grief, I discovered how many others were struggling with infertility and loss as well.
Over time, my social work practice, which had been in geriatric women’s mental health, evolved into supporting women and men struggling with infertility and loss. And once it became clear that I would never be able to carry a baby myself, my personal journey informed my practice once again and I developed a unique expertise in the area of 3rd party reproduction (egg and sperm donation, surrogacy and embryo donation.) My practice is now entirely in the area of assisted fertility, supporting individuals and couples experiencing infertility/loss, and of course, also working with people accessing Assisted Reproduction (AR) options for reasons other than infertility, i.e. sexual orientation, gender identity, medical conditions, relationship status.
In 2001, while in the middle of my own battle with infertility, I became very involved in the developing legislation around Assisted Human Reproductive Technologies. I was invited to speak before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in 2002 and consulted with Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC) for many years. Though the Agency has been disbanded, I continue to work with expert and public stakeholders to advocate for patients and highlight the needs of those of us who use these technologies to have our babies.
In my daily practice, I conduct the mandatory assessments for egg donors, known sperm donors, surrogates and embryo donors/recipients, as well as provide the required counselling for individuals/couples using donors and surrogates (this is called Intended Parent Implications Counselling and is not an assessment!).
While I compassionately support people experiencing infertility, I am equally committed to supporting people accessing AR options for reasons other than infertility, as well as supporting all the incredible women who act as surrogates, and the amazing women and men who donate their gametes so others can become parents.
I am here to support you while you deal with the profound emotions of infertility and loss, offer pragmatic guidance pertaining to short and long term decision-making processes impacting you and your future child(ren), and assist in developing effective coping strategies. My expertise includes individual and couple counselling, and grief counselling when treatment has been unsuccessful or when miscarriage/perinatal loss has occurred.
I am also here to offer support to surrogates and egg donors as they go through their own emotional and physical journey in reaching their goal of helping someone else create a family.
Though I am located in downtown Toronto, I offer remote counselling/assessments via Skype or Facetime, when appropriate.
My educational background, years of counselling in this field and my own personal experience with infertility, IVF and 3rd party reproduction, combined with knowledge of current research and practice methods, enables me to respond to the particular needs of clients and provide counselling that is empathetic, personalized and helpful. And happily, my services are covered by many employee Extended Health Benefit programs and are also tax deductible as a medical expense!
I am a Registered Social Worker (RSW) with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW), the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS), the Counselling Special Interest Group (CCSIG) of the CFAS, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and a Professional Member of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada (IAAC). I am also a regularly invited speaker at the 519 LGBTQ Community Centre.
No matter what brought you to this point, I am here to support you, to answer your questions and to help facilitate what can be a very emotional, exciting, scary and wonderful journey – for Intended Parents and for surrogates and donors. Please remember that I am only a phone call – or email - away.
Dara Roth Edney
My name is Jaclyn Swinkels, I'm the current webmaster for Surrogacy in Canada Online. The company I work for, The Net Now has worked with Sally for over 10 years. In 2009 I began creating the current website with Sally and have continued to work with her ever since. My role includes maintaining the current site and also working with Sally on updating/adding to various resources on the site.
As a young woman just starting in my field I remember the day we started working on the website. I was unfamiliar with the world of a surrogacy. I remember discussions with my boss where she explained how surrogacy worked and told me of Sally's surrogacy journey. I've since learned lots through Sally and from reading the stories on the website. I constantly find myself reading materials that Sally has posted. Needless to say I find the information on this site very interesting.
I look forward to continuing to assist with the surrogacy.ca website and am excited for what the future brings as far as further developing different features of the site so it continues to be a go-to resource for those interested in surrogacy.