For Prospective Parents



Dear Intended Parent - Parenthood involves much more than simply having a baby. So to, Assisted Reproduction is much more than fertilizing an egg in a laboratory.

There are three groups of issues in Assisted Reproduction; medical, legal and psychological. All are equally important. Success requires careful attention to all three - neglect of any one can mean failure. In fact, many of the early problems reported in the news revolved around psychological issues. We don't want your experience to become a headline.

This history and the growing body of evidence has taught us that the best outcomes do not occur by accident. Among other things it requires careful, experienced psychological screening of the participants, along with compassionate professional support of the parties before, during and after the process.

This represents a consensus of opinion. Your physician or agency, along with almost all others, recognizes this need. The treatment protocol of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine requires it and attorneys in this arena universally urge it's incorporation.

Two people who have the unaided ability to create a family of their own are solely responsible for their actions. If they are unprepared or ill-equipped for the journey of pregnancy, birth and parenthood, it’s the parents who bear the responsibility and the children who pay the price. Sadly, this happens all too frequently. However, when reproductive assistance is required, the circle of fiduciary responsibility widens to those who help. It is vitally important to ensure, as best we can, that the donors, surrogates and parents are emotionally stable and psychologically ready for the experience. This is not only important for your journey but socially and legally it helps to keep this option open for other childless couples in the future. Problems await the otherwise unprepared.

Nothing is fool proof, not medical science, psychology, genetics or any of the other widely variable components of this complex mix. But, as an integral part of a responsible group of professionals, organizations such as the one you are working with now, utilize psychologists to improve the odds of success.

The importance of the decisions you are now making cannot be overstated. Unlike career choices or even many marriages, children are forever and beyond. Go ahead and shop for a television or the best deal on a car..... Don’t shop for the cheapest physician, attorney or psychologist. Use the best. You should enlist someone with a doctorate in Clinical Psychology. One who has a demonstrated expertise in testing, with an extensive background in the field of Assisted Reproduction.


There are several members of your team; your agency, the physician, psychologist, embryologist, nurses, lawyer, donor, surrogate and parents. Each plays a different but vital roll. What we will be doing together will be slightly different as well - depending on the part you play and the program your physician or agency has established. Each of the participants need and deserve the opportunity to discuss the psychological aspects of Assisted Reproduction and to better understand their role in that process.

Experience, professional standards and the guidelines established by organizations such as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the Society of Assisted Reproductive Professionals, creates the basis of the process. It may take the form of a clinical interview and psychological testing as well as counseling and support sessions.

After our time together, a great deal of additional effort is then taken to review notes and analyze test results. Exhaustive reports are prepared, often exceeding 12 pages (depending on the program and circumstance). These are then submitted to your agency and physician. Further consultation with the participants, support meetings and phone calls are often required. I can make available more details about the procedures tailored specifically for you when we first meet.


For some individuals, the act of procreation can be the easy and inadvertent result of a mindless encounter. It may only require the back seat of a Chevrolet, a six pack of beer and a large dose of irresponsibility. For others, it’s neither easy nor mindless. The absence of children can be a painful experience. I know, I’ve been where you are and I’ve felt what you feel. For those people, their “back seat” is a medical environment and their “six-pack” a team of professionals, including the psychologist, who take great care, thought and preparation in the outcome.

A child magically transforms a couple into a family. Nothing is more precious than that little baby. A smile borrowed from an uncle, or hair color from grandma, all familiar notes in a new arrangement, giving voice to a new song. The greatest good most of us will ever achieve is that of being a good parent.....the greatest gift we can give may be helping someone touch that dream.

I wish you success in the quest of our shared goal - that of the birth of a child.

Sylvia Marnella, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist

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