“Family is not defined by genes; it is defined by love!
So, you made the decision to become an egg donor! Are you emotionally healthy and ready?
As you begin this journey, an assessment should be conducted by a mental health professional to ensure that you have a clear understanding of all that is involved. As such, one of my main objectives during the egg donor evaluation is to ensure that the young women in front of me, and their partner if applicable, fully understand what it means to be an egg donor and what the donation process entails; but most importantly, that they understand the psychological and emotional aspects of the donation process.
The egg donor mental health evaluation has several components: The clinical interview, testing, and reporting. The in-person clinical interview is a vital piece of the evaluation process. Personally, to me, it is the most important component since this is where you discover the true dynamic of the prospective donor ’s mindset as they go through the clinical interview process. It allows the clinician the opportunity to assess and observe the prospective donor’s level of functioning and emotional stability while gathering information about their origin, family, relationships, educational and professional history, any history of abuse, or any indication of chemical dependency. The clinical interview also allows the opportunity to assess the prospective donor’s motivation to donate, expectations, level of commitment, understanding of the medical procedure, medication protocol, and possible risks. During this time, one can also assess and determine if the prospective donor falls under the criteria for exclusion established by The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
Another component of the egg donor evaluation is testing, which is used to rule out any major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that could be genetically inherited by the offspring. These tests also help assess the prospective donor’s cognitive skills and her ability to make informed decisions. The last component is writing the report or what I like to call “painting the picture”.
The report includes a summary of all pertinent information related to the prospective donor’s personal and family history, mental health, test results, affirmation of the donor’s understanding of the donation process, and any recommendations. The report is not given directly to the prospective donor or to the intended parents, they are usually sent directly to the fertility clinics or to the agency that requested the evaluation. Consent to do so is obtained in writing from the potential donor with an explanation of who will, and who will not receive a copy of the report.
As a mental health professional, I feel that we must wear several hats while conducting an egg donor evaluation, that of an “educator, counselor, psychotherapist, and yes, a gatekeeper”. I strongly believe that our responsibility as mental health professionals are to protect all parties involved but most importantly, the children that are being conceived via egg donation.
For more information on the egg donation process, you can visit the ASRM website at:
Elisa Natiello, LCSW Reproductive & infertility counseling 2250 NW 136 Avenue Suite, 111 Pembroke Pines, FL 33028 Ph: (954) 695-9073 firstname.lastname@example.org