Third-Party Reproduction Counselling

Third-Party Reproduction Counselling

Sometimes it takes another person (or more) to make a baby.

Third-party reproduction occurs with the help of another party (person or people) who donates eggs, sperm, or embryos, and/or who acts as a gestational surrogate.

The most common reasons for donation and surrogacy are:

  • Infertility or a related medical diagnosis
  • Single parenting
  • LGBTQ+ family-building

Many happy families are created every day with third-party reproduction. However, this special type of baby-making can bring a few extra considerations… some for the adults involved, and some for the future child.

A third-party reproduction counselling session can help you to navigate the information and resources, gain support and coping strategies, and prepare for your future family.

Third-party reproduction counselling can help you to:

  • Gain support, information, and strategies
  • Decide if donation or surrogacy is right for you
  • Learn about the different types of donation available
  • Get help in choosing a donor or surrogate 
  • Learn if, how, and when to inform others of your plans
  • Feel more attached to your child, regardless of genetic connection
  • Feel more prepared to become a parent, a donor, or a surrogate
  • Discuss the possible legal, ethical, and psychosocial implications involved
  • Manage the relationships, boundaries, and expectations between all known parties
  • Discuss the most up to date recommendations 
  • Review the latest research on health and psychological outcomes for children and families

Common questions about donation and surrogacy:

  • Most countries have third-party reproduction guidelines for medical staff and for counsellors.  In Canada, these guidelines are set by Health Canada and by professional associations that specialize in reproduction and fertility.
  • Holly is a member of the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society and the American Society for Assisted Reproduction.
  • In your session, specific topics are discussed prior to donation or surrogacy at a clinic. Holly will provide you with information, support, and strategies to help you and the future child on this journey.
  • A brief report is required to be sent to your fertility clinic, which confirms you have discussed the recommended topics.
  • In Canada, we are able to purchase donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos from a cryobank. 
  • We also have ‘matching services’ that provide assistance on working with someone who has volunteered to be a donor or surrogate.
  • There are costs associated with the above services (admin fees, expenses, etc.), but it is important to know that in Canada, donors and surrogates are not permitted to be paid for the use of their gametes or uterus. Please talk to a lawyer who specializes in third-party reproduction for more information, 
  • Many people in Canada prefer to do donation or surrogacy with someone they know (friend, family member, acquaintance).
  • Your other party will also need a counselling session.
  • In most cases, a legal contract is also required; talk to your clinic or go to Fertility Law BC for more information. 
  • In most cases when participating in surrogacy or donation with a friend or family member, it is recommended that each party meets with the same counsellor for their own separate session.
  • In some cases, an additional session with all parties combined is recommended (e.g., if concerns were revealed in counselling).
  • Working with the same counsellor is especially beneficial if you intend to be in contact with the child and/or other party in the future.
  • Openness and transparency are encouraged when working together to make a baby.
  • Your consent to share some personal information with the other party and clinic is required.
  • It may not always be possible for all of you to all see the same counsellor, in which case other arrangements can be made.
  • Whether you are a donor, a surrogate, or an intended parent (recipient), our government requires that your legal partner attend this appointment with you.
  • Legal partners are defined by Health Canada as someone living with you in a marriage-like relationship (e.g., common-law, married) for at least one year.
  • Even if your relationship does not fit our government’s definition, it can be helpful to include partners in this process. This helps to ensure that everyone understands what is expected, and is especially important if you will have contact with the resulting child/other party in the future.
  • After your session, and if you consent, a report will be sent to the fertility clinic of your choice.
  • The report confirms that you have discussed the required topics in your counselling session.
  • If participating in a known/directed donation or surrogacy where you know the other party, the report is specific to that arrangement. It is not transferable to other arrangements.
  • The report is valid until/unless circumstances alter your arrangement significantly. For example, an updated session and report is required when any of the following changes occur: health or mental health status, legal partner, source of gametes (unknown/agency to known/directed), other party, or expectations (in known arrangements), etc. In addition, your clinic may have a time limit on reports.
  • Some people prefer to try to conceive at home with a known donor instead of going to a fertility clinic.
  • While many successful conceptions have occurred this way, there are potential implications to be aware of.
  • A counselling session is not required, but it can be helpful in determining everyone’s legal and social roles, as well as boundaries and expectations.
  • There would be no need for a report if you are not attending a fertility clinic.
  • You can find more information on the Fees page.
  • Each party who attends a counselling session is responsible for payment at the end of their session.
  • In some cases, another party offers to pay. For example, it is common for intended parents to pay for their donor or surrogate’s session.
  • In some cases, your fertility clinic will pay you counsellor directly.  
  • If you have arranged to pay for another party’s session (or to have another party pay for your session), please inform Holly at the time of your session.
  • Note that you are responsible for any outstanding amount that is not covered by the other party. 
  • The topic of disclosure is an important one, and is one of the conversations you will have in your third-party reproduction counselling with Holly. She will inform you of the current recommendations, latest research, and resources. 

Ready to book a video session with Holly?