The process of creating a family is both exciting and exhausting. Whether you have had children previously or not, know that you are not alone in this journey. We applaud you for looking into third-party reproduction because we know that this is not easy. Our therapists are well-versed in women’s mental health and couples’ needs as they create a family. Here at Flourish, our inclusive therapists welcome you, your partner, and your story.
Infertility counseling is important. Research shows that the main reason couples stop infertility treatment is not due to lack of money, but because of emotional depletion. With over a decade of experience supporting individuals and couples throughout their fertility journey, our Chicago-based counseling center is here to support you in your journey to growing your family.
Third-Party Reproduction Psychological Consultations
Psychological consultations are an important part of the process in determining intended parents’ readiness to participate in a third-party collaboration. Consultations are helpful for intended parents to explore and understand the psychological issues involved in third-party reproduction.
Emily Heilman, MA, LCSW, PMH-C provides psychological assessments and consultation services to intended parents building their families through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). This includes egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation, or gestational surrogacy. Emily works closely with your fertility clinic. Typically, clinics require partners to meet with a mental health provider trained to conduct an evaluation prior to proceeding with treatment. Likewise, if you are working with a known donor (like a friend or family member), a joint meeting is required. This is a standard part of the assessment to ensure potential issues are discussed openly prior to moving forward. Once the clinical interview is complete, a written report will be sent to your fertility clinic provider.
Consultation Services for Third-Party Reproduction
Psychological Evaluation of Egg Donor
Prior to donating eggs, the potential egg donor must undergo a psychological evaluation to determine if she is suitable for this process. The donor and her partner will meet for an hour-long clinical interview. This interview includes completing a psychological consultation and written report.
Consultation with Intended Parents Using Egg/Sperm Donor
If you are considering using an egg donor, a sperm donor, or a gestational carrier, your fertility clinic likely requires you to schedule a consultation with a licensed mental health clinician specializing in third-party reproduction. The purpose of this meeting is to prepare you for the process and assist you in thinking through the implications of this decision for you and your future family.
When you contact our practice, we will email you an intake questionnaire to be completed at least one day prior to your appointment. During your consultation, we will discuss the following issues:
- How to choose a donor that best suits your family’s needs
- Pros and cons of a known donor vs. an anonymous donor
- The emotional impact of being a recipient
- Guidance for talking to family and friends
- Concerns bout bonding with a child that is not genetically yours
- Any grief about the loss of genetic connection with your child
- How and when to disclose the genetics origins to your child
Furthermore, sometimes one partner is not ready to let go of the dream of genetic parenthood. If you and your partner are not in the same place with your decision, you may benefit from more than one consultation. After the consultation, you will receive a list of resources. This list includes books for parents and children whose families were created by donor egg or sperm.
Joint Consultation with Intended Parents and Known Egg/Sperm Donor
If you are using a known donor such as your sister, brother, relative, or friend, your fertility clinic will recommend a joint meeting. This meeting will be for intended parents, the donor, and their partner. In this meeting we will discuss the following:
- How the egg or sperm donor process may affect the relationship between the donor and recipient in the future
- When and how to share information with the rest of the family
- Effects of this process on the donor’s spouse and children
- Your expectations of each other in the future
- What, if anything, the child will know about the donor
- Any potential relationship the donor will have with the child in the future
A consultation is incredibly important and can prevent future problems from occurring. To ensure the success of the process, we will spend time early on to define each other’s roles and clarify boundaries about the future child’s relationship with the donor. Furthermore, this also helps recipients establish themselves as parents.
Counseling for Parents of Children Conceived by Egg or Sperm Donor
If you are a parent of a child conceived via an egg or a sperm donor, you may face unique concerns that your family and friends cannot help with. You may develop self-doubt or feel “left out” as a non-genetic parent. Further, you may worry that disclosing information about your child’s genetic origins will distress your child or weaken your relationship with them. It is natural to feel anxious about these things. And as a parent, you need support and guidance on how to talk to your child about these topics.
Counseling can help you:
- Become more competent and empowered as a parent
- Grieve the loss of not having a biological child
- Improve your relationship with your child and develop a stronger bond
- Handle genetic disclosure at the child’s various developmental stages
- Create a life story for your child that would include a donor so that your child develops a healthy identity and sense of self-worth
How you handle discussions about your unique type of family and how you respond to your child’s questions and feelings will have a strong impact on how comfortable your child will be with him/herself through childhood and into adulthood. In addition, our practice has many support groups and workshops that can help you find support among parents with a similar story.
Begin Third-Party Reproduction in Chicago, IL
Together, we can resolve the issues that may arise from creating your family with an egg or sperm donor. We want you to be able to fully enjoy your children and develop a healthy family. Our Chicago-area counseling center has worked helped families grow for years. It would be an honor for us to help you along your journey and provide the necessary support. Follow the steps below to get started.
- Contact us using by filling out our contact form.
- Meet with our founder, Emily Heilman, MA, LCSW, PMH-C.
- Get support throughout the third-party reproduction process and start building your family.
Other Services at Flourish Counseling and Wellness
While our founder, Emily serves partners and individuals with third-party reproduction consultation services, the rest of our therapists assist in other areas. Flourish is a Chicago, IL counseling practice that serves women and their partners throughout the fertility experience. If you’re struggling with infertility and not quite ready to consider third-party reproduction, infertility counseling can help. If you are pregnant, our pregnancy and prenatal counseling services may be a good fit. Likewise, if you’ve given birth and are struggling with postpartum, our therapists can help with postpartum support. And, we know that the whole process of creating a family can be anxiety-inducing, so check out our anxiety treatment, couples therapy, and group therapy offerings for additional support. Further, all of these services are accessible both in-person and online. Please reach out to us with any questions about our services.