In an earlier blog post (over a year ago!) we mentioned that ‘building our team’ involved five key players: a lawyer, a doctor (clinic), an agency, a counselor, and of course, a surrogate. Over the past year, we have been working to build our team and are finally able to say that it is complete. While our surrogate Ashley was undergoing medical screening, we took the opportunity to meet with a psychotherapist that specializes in infertility. This is not only recommended, but a requirement by our clinic before proceeding to transfer.
We are very fortunate that our agency, 4U Surrogacy Canada, has a relationship with Erica Berman, a Toronto-based counsellor. Erica’s screening fees were included in our payment to 4U, so we didn’t have to pay any out-of-pocket expense.
Our appointment with Erica was thorough. She began by asking us about our families and what our childhoods were like. We spoke about the support system that we have developed and how open we are about our journey. We spoke about our expectations for our surrogacy journey with Ashley and her family, and what our strategies may be if something doesn’t go quite right. We told her honestly, that we couldn’t be closer with Ashley and her husband if we tried, and we are confident that everything can be worked out with honest and open communication. As a therapist, I presume she was listening for how we answered her questions as much as she was listening for what the answers were themselves. Her role is to give her clinical opinion as to whether we comprehend what is involved in a surrogacy journey and if we are prepared for the outcome, whatever it may be.
As a male partner in this journey, it was refreshing to hear my input so valued. My upbringing, hopes, and expectations for this journey are just as valid as Baden’s, and I was encouraged to share my feelings honestly. I imagine for many male partners this may be difficult, as it takes a fair amount of introspection to be able to articulate your feelings to a counselor, and it shouldn’t be. Baden and I have spoken at length in the blog about the importance of regular mental health check-ups on fertility journeys and this is just another key touchpoint.
We learned a few days later that we were psychologically cleared and that Erica would be sending a letter to our clinic to confirm. We are glad to have this milestone behind us as we await Ashley’s final medical clearance and we move on to contracts.
P.S. Erica is available for counseling services for everyone, not just those on surrogacy journeys. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, please feel free to reach out or seek support from a mental health professional.