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By Jan Elman Stout, Psy.D.

When it comes to egg donation and gestational surrogacy, whether as an intended parent, donor or surrogate, consulting with a mental health professional who specializes in infertility counseling is critical.

Prospective parents may worry that such a referral prior to pursuing medical treatment is to assess their sanity, to decide if  they should become parents. Not at all! The main focus of this type of consultation is to better educate future parents about their chosen family-building method.

This path leads prospective parents to many choices along the way; a mental health professional helps prepare them to make informed choices that are consistent with their personal needs and interests.

Some of the questions a mental health professional may address with you, to assist you in making the best possible choices, include:

  • Do you know how to select a medical program that is right for you?
  • Do you know how to choose a donor or gestational carrier agency to help recruit an appropriate candidate for you?
  • Do you know what’s important in choosing an egg donor or gestational carrier?
  • Are you planning to inform your children about how you became a family?
  • Are you planning on sharing your family story with others?

Being psychologically screened to become an egg donor or gestational carrier is also very important.  A mental health professional can help identify whether or not you are an appropriate egg donor or gestational carrier candidate. The goal is to help you have as much satisfaction and as little regret as possible with your role in this process.  Among the questions the mental health professional will help you answer:

  • Why do you want to be a donor or surrogate?
  • What do you hope to gain through this loving act?
  • Do you know what is involved in the process and are you prepared to assume the emotional and other risks?
  • Can you benefit from guidance in determining whether this is a good decision for you, not only for the moment but also in the future?

At the end of the day, the overriding goal in the counseling process is to facilitate the creation of happy parents, children, and donors and surrogates. Keep this in mind when you feel hesitant to pick up the phone to call the mental health professional for an appointment. Our primary aim is to help, not hinder your efforts to meet your life goals.

By Robin von Halle

Our phones have been ringing off the hook lately. And it’s not just surrogates and egg donors who are calling (although they’re calling too), but reporters. In the last two weeks alone, we’ve been interviewed by the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, ABC News and CNN.

It all started with the Sun-Times, which ran an article suggesting that the slumping economy is actually good for the fertility business. Ours was among the agencies contacted, and, in fact, we have seen the number of calls from potential egg donors and surrogates increase over the last few months.

It doesn’t really surprise me.

For some women, donating eggs is a way to supplement their income, pay off debt or even splurge on a high-priced item. We know that money is a motivating factor, and if it’s the main reason a woman calls us, then that’s okay by us. It only benefits our intended parents.

That being said, egg donation isn’t for everyone. The idea of donating a handful of eggs in order to collect a handful of cash is incredibly simplistic and, in fact, belies the time, effort and, for some, discomfort of the egg collection process. That’s why we thoroughly screen all our donor applicants and have each woman go through psychological counseling. We weed out candidates who wouldn’t be able to handle the emotional aspects of donating or simply aren’t a good fit.

Whatever your reasons for donating in whatever economic environment, the need for them continues unabated. And recipients are extremely thankful.

In the end, that’s the ultimate reward.

Visit our Web site at www.arr1.com.

About Us

Conception Connections is a blog about alternative paths to family creation. It is maintained by Alternative Reproductive Resources. Contributors include intended parents, egg donors and gestational surrogates in addition to ARR staff. Our goal is to facilitate conversations about trends, issues, current events, technology and personal stories surrounding infertility, egg donation and gestational surrogacy. If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail shodge@hodgemediastrategies.com. We also welcome your comments and suggestions. Note: Comments are moderated and posted on approval.

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