If you’re here, it’s very likely that you’ve been told that you have to complete this item on your “check list” in order to move forward with using donor egg, embryo, or sperm to build your family. In most cases, working with an infertility-trained mental health professional is a required part of the process.

I aim to make this session as insightful as it can be, in the midst of what has already been a long journey, rather than a checkbox to cross off. I hope to help you feel prepared to make the decisions down the path, to provide you with as much insight and understanding as possible, and to leave you with support surrounding any concerns (or any of the other big feelings) that come with the third-party reproduction process. After the appointment, I will provide your clinic or agency with a summary of our session and send you a compilation of resources tailored to your unique situation.

Topics we might discuss include:
  • The limitations and implications of proceeding with a known or unknown donor arrangement.
  • Consideration around disclosures and processes for sharing with genetic siblings and family members.
  • How racial, ethnic, and religious influences may influence how a person communicates and receives support from their family for this process.
  • Best practices and examples of telling your child their origin story.

Psychoeducational Consultation for Intended Parent(s)

01.

Evaluation of Egg Donors

02.

There are psychological and physical risks involved in oocyte donation. A thorough consultation and evaluation helps ensure that donation is being pursued with full informed consent. In addition to a clinical interview, psychological testing using standardized instruments is performed.

Discussion topics will include:
  • Exploration of emotional and financial motivations to donate.
  • Implications of donation on her future relationships with a partner or her own children.
  • Interests and preferences for any future contact with the recipients or resulting child.
  • Discussion of how the evaluation results will be shared within the medical team.

Historically, sperm donors have not gone through the same psychological evaluation as other gamete donations. However, the ASRM recommends assessment and counseling for sperm donors as well. In addition to a clinical interview, psychological testing using standardized instruments is performed.

Discussion topics will include:
  • Exploration of emotional and financial motivations to donate.
  • Implications of donation on his future relationships with a partner or his own children.
  • Interests and preferences for any future contact with the recipients or resulting child.
  • Psychological motivations and risks to donating.
  • Discussion of how the evaluation results will be shared within the medical team.

Evaluation of Sperm Donors

03.

Psychological consultation and clinical interview to discuss psychological concerns related to embryo donation, discussing your readiness and acceptance of the implications before proceeding. Discussion of compatibility of your goals with program guidelines and implications of such choices. 

Discussion topics for this psychological consultation include:
  • How you think about the embryo(s) and levels of attachment
  • Implications for disclosure and future information exchanged
  • If a directed donation, considerations around the type of relationship desired with the recipients and principles for navigating a novel relationship
  • In a non-directed donation, discussion of your background and characteristics in the event that a future disclosure is authorized

Embryo Donor Consultations

04.

Gestational Carrier Evaluations & Arrangements

05.

If you are planning to build your family through the use of a surrogate, or a gestational carrier, you likely know about the innumerable decisions before you–you have already made many of them! My goal is to help identify any concerns you or your surrogate may encounter moving forward, helping the rest of the process go as smoothly as possible.

If you are a potential surrogate needing an evaluation, you likely have many reasons for wanting to be a surrogate. It is an incredible act of service to the intended parents. In the interview and evaluation, we'll explore your reasons for wanting to be a surrogate, what expectations you have for the medical procedures, and other psychosocial influences on your ability to be a surrogate.

A range of appointments are possible, including a psychoeducational consultation with the intended parent(s), clinical interview and psychological evaluation with the potential gestational carrier and a partner (if living together), and a joint group meeting. The use of standardized psychological tests are used.

Discussion topics in these appointments will include:
  • Discussions to promote healthy relationships and clear communication between all parties. 
  • Preferences regarding the following processes: embryo transfer, prenatal care, delivery and post-birth procedures.
  • Exploration of emotional and financial motivations to donate.
  • How racial, ethnic, and religious influences may influence how a person communicates and receives support from their family for this process.
  • Discussion of how the evaluation results will be shared within the medical team.

In known donor arrangements the group meeting provides a chance for a facilitated discussion with a psychologist trained in interpersonal group communication.

Discussion topics for these meetings includes:
  • What information to include in disclosures.
  • Desired future relationships between the parties.
  • Potential areas of concern that need to be addressed that were discovered in the evaluation of the donor.

Intended Parent(s) and Donor Group Meetings

06.

I wholeheartedly support your journey and am so honored to walk with you on your way to building your family. You might still be wondering why you have to see a mental health professional in order to move forward with building your family. I want to highlight that this is not an evaluation; instead, my goal is to help you understand your options and the implications of the choices you make on your journey in an affirming and non-judgmental process.

Discussion topics for psychoeducational consultations with LGBTQ+ clients include:
  • Research and support in navigating the traditionally heteronormative framework of fertility services.
  • Considerations of who might be the genetic parent, gestational parent, and implications on the resulting familial relationships.
  • Potential shifts in gender identity and perceptions of gender by others due to pregnancy.
  • Possible changes in social networks and support systems in the transition to parenthood.
  • Reflections on cultural narratives and how they influence donor conceived children in LGBTQ+ families. 
  • How racial, ethnic, and religious influences may influence how a person communicates and receives support from their family for this process.
  • Best practices and considerations for telling your child their origin story.

LGBTQ+ Family Building

07.

I offer one hour drop-in discussion groups for intended parents. These are customized for specific agencies who want to offer additional support to intended parents. Being an IP can be an isolating and lonely experience, and these virtual sessions allow IPs to connect, learn new skills, and find relief from learning they aren't alone in their struggles. A typical group involves 15 minutes of teaching new skills (e.g., breathwork to reduce anxiety, relating to thoughts and emotions differently) then 45 minutes of facilitated discussion to connect members to each other. These are offered as a stand alone drop-in group and IPs can attend as they are available. Contact me if you are interested in a longer term series of Wellness Workshops that IPs can register for (3 or 6 session series available). 

Wellness & Support Groups

08.