What is Third-Party Reproduction?

Third-party reproduction is the use of another person's gametes (i.e., eggs or sperm), embryos, or body (i.e., uterus). Individuals and couples choose third-party reproduction when the use of their own gametes or uterus is not possible/not available, possibly due to:

  • Infertility (low ovarian reserve, low sperm count, hysterectomy)
  • Single parenting
  • LGBTQ+ family building

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

Why Third-Party Reproduction Counselling?

Third-party reproduction counselling can help you to:

  • Make the decision of whether this 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
  • Decide on how to inform your children of their 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
  • Have as positive and successful an experience as possible

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), a counselling session is required by Health Canada. In this session, Holly with provide you with information, support, and strategies to help make your journey as smooth as possible... for everyone involved. A report is sent to your clinic after your appointment to confirm that you attended the required session.

  • Legal partners: If you are living common-law with or married to a partner, they are required by Health Canada to attend this appointment with you.
  • Known arrangements: If you know the other party (i.e., donors/surrogates who are friends, family, met through a matching service/online), they also need to attend a counselling session. This is especially important when you will have contact during medical treatment/pregnancy and in the future. This session is specific to each arrangement and is not transferable to other arrangements with other parties.
  • Unknown arrangements: If you are working with an agency where you do not know your donor/surrogate (e.g., spermbank, eggbank), then donors/surrogates will have already had a counselling session as part of their pre-screening process.
  • Counselling report: A report 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. The report is specific to each arrangement. 
  • Videoconferencing/remote sessions: In some cases, this session can be offered using the Zoom videoconferencing app, which is encrypted and approved for counselling sessions. To book a Zoom session, you will need to return the Intake & Consent Forms 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). The fee is 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.

About Holly Yager

Holly Yager, M.Ed. 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 in British Columbia and across Canada. She has also seen clients pursuing treatment in other countries (e.g., US, Australia). Holly follows the best practice guidelines set by the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society (CFAS), by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and by Health Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Holly is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC 2981) and a Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC 3009).