What is third-party reproduction?

Third-party reproduction is the assistance of another person's gametes (i.e., eggs or sperm), embryos, or body (i.e., uterus). Individuals and couples have the option to build their family with third-party reproduction when the use of their own gametes or uterus is not possible or not available, possibly due to infertility, single parenting, LGBTQ+ family-building.

Many families are successfully created every day with third-party reproduction! However, this type of family-building can bring a few extra considerations for everyone -- the intended parent(s), donor, gestational surrogate, and child. Third-party reproduction counselling provides support, information, and strategies to help make this type of family-building as positive an experience as possible.

Third-party reproduction counselling can help you to:

  • Make the decision of whether donation/surrogacy is the right option for you
  • Prepare for your experience as an intended parent/recipient, donor, or surrogate
  • Know what to look for in a donor or surrogate/gestational carrier/IP
  • Learn how and when to inform your children of their origin story
  • Know if, how, and when to inform friends and family of your plans
  • Manage the relationships, boundaries, and expectations between all parties
  • Feel more attached and bonded to your child, regardless of genetic connection

What happens in a third-party reproduction counselling session?

If you are participating in third-party reproduction at a fertility clinic (as a donor, surrogate, or as intended parents), they require a counselling session as per regulations. In this session, Holly will provide you with information, support, and strategies to help make your journey as smooth as possible. As in every counselling session, a history is taken and information is collected regarding your family-building plans. Specific topics are discussed according to best practice guidelines. A report is then sent to the fertility clinic of your choice.

Some things to know before your session:

  • Partners: If you are living with a partner (cohabiting, common-law, married), they are required by Health Canada to attend this appointment with you.
  • Unknown donation/surrogacy: If you are working with a clinic and an agency where you do not know your donor/surrogate (e.g., "anonymous" spermbank or eggbank), then your donor will already have had a counselling session as part of the pre-screening process. Please ask if you are unsure.
  • Known donation/surrogacy: If you know the other party (i.e., friends, family, met through a matching service/online), they also need to attend a counselling session. It is recommended that each party have their own session with the same counsellor, whenever possible. This is especially important when you will have contact with each other during medical treatment/pregnancy and in the future.
  • Counselling report: A report that summarizes topics discussed in your session will be sent to your clinic after your meeting. When you know the intended parents/donor/surrogate, information from each party will be compiled into one report and sent to the clinic. The report is specific to each arrangement and is not transferable to other parties/arrangements or clinics. In most cases, the report is valid for one year, unless circumstances have occurred that alter your arrangement (e.g., changes in health or mental health status, partner(s), source of gametes, etc.).
  • Videoconferencing/remote sessions: In some cases, this session can be offered using the Zoom videoconferencing app, which is free, encrypted, and approved for counselling sessions. To book a Zoom session, you will need to return the Intake & Consent Forms at least two days in advance, at which time you will be sent a link to the online meeting. You will need a device/computer with access to a camera/webcam and a microphone.
  • Fees: Each one-hour session is $180 (including the report and GST). Fees are set according to recommendations by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors. You will be provided with a receipt that you can submit to your extended health care plan for reimbursement. In some cases, another party (e.g., intended parents, clinic) will offer to pay for a session; please ask your clinic how invoicing works in this situation.

About Holly Yager

Holly Yager, M.Ed., RCC, CCC is reproductive health & fertility counsellor with extensive experience in third-party reproduction counselling for donation and surrogacy. Holly provides counselling to intended parents, donors, and surrogates all over British Columbia and across Canada. Holly follows the best practice guidelines set by the CFAS, by the ASRM, and by Health Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA).