Robin Newman chose to make lemonade from the lemons life gave her. After battling infertility, she now helps couples worldwide with their dream of conceiving children through her program Global Egg Donors.
Raised in Montecito, Newman says she always had an intense connection with the outdoors. Her father, Robert, a former district attorney, was responsible for limitations on building heights, awnings and billboards. In her mid-20s, Newman made her way east to attend the University of Maine for a degree in environmental studies.
She taught Montessori education as well as outdoor adventure programs for children before deciding to pursue a career as a professional organizer. After reading several books on the topic, she believes she knew as much as those in the field, so she started giving lectures at local bookstores. The media covered one of her talks, which led to numerous jobs and a stable livelihood.
During her 30s, Newman and her husband tried to get pregnant. Unsuccessful, they sought medical help, which led to numerous tests and operations.
“We spent all our savings and our emotions — to no avail,” she said, adding that she attributes their subsequent divorce to her infertility.
At age 42, Newman decided to start over by taking what she calls her “walkabout.” She traveled alone throughout Europe and the Greek Isles and ended in Cape Town, South Africa. Wanting to stay, she began brainstorming about businesses that could use her skills and support her life in there.
Her initial idea was to pair Americans with skilled South African physicians for a variety of services, such as Lasik and cosmetic surgery and dentistry. After building her company infrastructure, she met with a fertility clinic and decided to pursue only the one service. Experiencing the headache and heartache of infertility, she understood well the challenges of couples seeking help.
Newman initially attracted Americans and eventually couples worldwide because she offered to match donors of nearly every race or mixed race to birth parents. To date, Global Egg Donors has donors from 12 countries and recipients from 23 countries worldwide, with the majority residing in Australia and the United States. Additionally, Newman says the clinics with which she partners are considerably more affordable than domestic ones, offering equal services for nearly half the cost.
She has navigated the fertility industry, which varies dramatically from one country to the next. To compare, she says the U.S. fertility industry is money driven, with donors paid handsomely, and almost no restrictions on doctors or clinics. As a result, recipients can often have multiple births. The United Kingdom mandates that donors remain anonymous and can receive no payment. Australia mandates that donors be known and unpaid, and the recipients must go through counseling before services.
As a result, Global Egg Donors has grown steadily in the past decade with partner clinics in India, Thailand, South Africa and, most recently, Barbados. Donors and recipients travel to the clinic for the 10-day procedure. From start to fertilization typically takes three months, and Global Egg Donors has more than 300 births to date.
Newman has eight employees scattered throughout South Africa, Barbados, Canada and the United States. While based in Santa Barbara, she keeps a fairly aggressive travel schedule — moving between the clinic locations.
“I love my life today,” she said, “and I feel proud to be helping so many couples have children.”