While surrogacy is rife with anticipation in helping someone finally fulfill their dreams of parenthood, it’s also a delicate journey where care, compassion and harmony need to be in sync. As many women commit to this memorable experience, they may speak to other women who have traveled the same path for support and information. However, top-shelf surrogacy agencies have professional counselors on hand for women to lean on.
Ladies preparing to become surrogates may have different perceptions on the process. An in-house counselor at a regarded agency affords women to establish a special rapport with someone they can trust. Above all, it offers all women the care they deserve during such an incredible and selfless moment in their lives.
Shannon Herman, MA, is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Extraordinary Conceptions, a California surrogacy and egg donor agency. In addition to conducting the psychological screenings, she meets with surrogates on a monthly basis.
“I love being there to assist in any way throughout the surrogacy journey,” Herman said. “I believe that this is a highly emotional journey and knowing that I can provide some support is a great feeling.”
After a surrogate is matched with her intended parent(s), Herman steps in ensuring that a woman is comfortable during the process, including the various stages she undergoes. Herman shared that she is “there” to support the ladies while they are going through the expected hormonal changes and the normal everyday stressors of life. Based on logistics, Herman is on hand for these ladies via Skype, phone and in-person.
“I want them to feel that they have someone in their corner to assist with anything they may need during the process,” Herman said. She added, “I want them to feel emotionally supported so they can focus on caring for their surrogate baby and themselves and enjoying the fact that they are helping to give a family the baby that they have always wanted.”
While every woman is unique in her own way, Herman understands that unanticipated feelings may surface. And if that is the case, she is there to help discuss any issues, allowing a woman the platform she needs to express those emotions.
For Herman, surrogates need to know that care and support is ever present at Extraordinary Conceptions.
“Even though these surrogates have been pregnant before, every pregnancy is different, and we never really know how our bodies and hormones are going to respond. Making sure that there is someone there to assist with these feelings is key in helping everyone have a positive experience,” she said.
The help that Herman provides is tailored because every surrogacy journey and those involved are distinctly unique. Allowing surrogates the opportunity to have a counselor who listens and genuinely cares is vital.
While empathy is in the lead, a counselor should be competent not only in their field but also about surrogacy and all its subtle nuances.
Herman is honored that both the surrogates and intended parents have entrusted her.
“It means a lot to know that these families and surrogates are allowing me into such a private and special time in their lives,” she said.