SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – There is a new non-profit organization in South Dakota looking to advocate for people struggling with infertility and the options they have for growing a family. Options like surrogacy.
Lisa Rahja founded Families from South Dakota Surrogacy in January.
“Our role is truly to help create the laws to ensure the safety of surrogacy in our future and then also to help provide resources,” she said.
This cause means a lot to Rahja because she has suffered through the loss of ten of her own pregnancies.
“I know that I would not have my son Easton here today without gestational surrogacy,” she said.
Rahja isn’t the only board member of the non-profit organization that has a personal connection to surrogacy.
“I knew at a young age that I would never be able to carry a child myself and so that raw reality was the pathway that led me to surrogacy,” board member Elizabeth Waletich said.
“Recent studies by Everlasting Hope and Fertility Within Reach have actually found that in South Dakota, it’s 1 in 6. 1 in 6 people will struggle to have a child,” Rahja said.
Families from South Dakota Surrogacy was started after a bill in the 2020 South Dakota legislative session attempted to ban commercial surrogacy contracts and make it a crime to facilitate the process.
As a retired surrogate, Amber Rikansrud knew she wanted to help Rahja with this organization after learning about that bill.
“Surrogacy has done so much for me and my family and I want that to continue. I know what a great option it is to grow families, especially for those who struggle with infertility,” Rikansrud said.
Rahja hopes that she can one day offer scholarships to help people looking to grow their families through surrogacy.
Sunday is the beginning of National Infertility Awareness Week and Families from South Dakota Surrogacy will be hosting Facebook Lives all week with topics centered on infertility and alternative reproductive options.