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 other medical condition
  • Solo parent family building
  • 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 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:

What happens in a third-party reproduction counselling session?

  • 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 participates in regular professional development and training in third-party reproduction and assisted reproduction through organizations such as 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.

Are there egg/sperm banks and surrogacy agencies in Canada?

  • In Canada, we are able to purchase donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos from a cryobank. Some of those cryobanks are located in Canada, and sometimes gametes are imported from the USA.
  • 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 if you have more questions.

What about donation or surrogacy with someone I know?

  • Many people in Canada prefer to go through donation or surrogacy with someone they know (friend, family member, acquaintance).
  • The other party will also need a counselling session. If that person has a legal partner they are also required to attend the session.
  • In most cases, a legal contract is also required when you are participating in ‘known/designated” donation or surrogacy; talk to your clinic or go to Fertility Law BC for more information. 

Does each party see the same counsellor?

  • 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 needed in advance.
  • It may not always be possible for all of you to all see the same counsellor, in which case other arrangements can be made.

Does my partner need to participate?

  • Whether you are a donor, a surrogate, or an intended parent (recipient), Canada policies require 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.

What is a ‘third-party reproduction counselling report’?

  • 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 with other people.
  • 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.

Do I need counselling for home insemination/donation?

  • Some people prefer to try to conceive at home with a known donor (friend, etc.) 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, and can be another source of support.
  • There would be no need for a third-party reproduction counselling report if you are not attending a fertility clinic.

How much is third-party reproduction counselling?

  • You can find more information on the Fees page.

Who pays for the third-party counselling session?

  • Each party who attends a counselling session is responsible for payment at the end of their session. An invoice is automatically sent via the online booking app.
  • In some cases, another party offers to pay. For example, it is common for one party (i.e., intended parents) to pay for their donor or surrogate’s session. 
  • If you have arranged payment to/from another party, please inform Holly at the time of your session s that the appropriate person can be invoiced.
  • Note that you are responsible for any outstanding amount that is not covered by the other party. 
  • The invoice will state the names of the person(s) who received the service, as well as the person/organization the invoice is sent to. 
  • There is one fertility clinic in BC that includes counselling in your medical fees. If this is your case, then inform Holly and she will direct bill the clinic. Unfortunately, in this case, you are likely not able to use your extended health benefits. 

Do I have to tell anyone if I use donation or surrogacy?

  • The topics of privacy and disclosure are important, and will be discussed when you have your third-party reproduction counselling with Holly. She will inform you of the current recommendations, latest research, and resources. 

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