Episode 55 Transcript

Ep 55 Transcript | Surrogacy Psychological Screening with Angela Bethea-Walsh, Ph.D.

(This is a reshare of one of our top episodes from Season 1.)

Eloise Drane
Angela Bethea-Walsh is a licensed psychologist in Georgia. She received her doctoral degree in counseling psychology from Lehigh University. She then completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in clinical health and addiction psychology at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center, Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. She is the owner of Bethea Consulting in psychological services as a private practice located in Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys working with individuals presenting with fertility concerns, pre, and postnatal mental health. She co-leads a psychotherapy group for women infertility treatment. Another arm of her practice includes psychological consultation for individuals involved in medically assisted reproduction, including intended parents, gestational carrier candidates, and egg and sperm donor candidates. She practices evidence-based, culturally sensitive interventions with an emphasis on social and reproductive justice. Welcome, Angela.

Intro
Whoever thought making a baby could be so hard? Luckily, the fertility journey isn’t meant to be traveled alone. Eloise Drane has helped hundreds of people build and grow their families over the last 15 years. And she’s ready to share insider knowledge and expertise with you. So grab a seat, and let’s talk fertility and alternative family building in the fertility cafe.

Eloise Drane
Hey, everyone, welcome to this week’s fertility Cafe episode. And this week, we have a guest, and obviously, based on her intro, this is Angela Bethea-Walsh. Welcome, Angela.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Thank you so much for having me, Ellie. Looking forward to talking with you.

Eloise Drane
Yes, thank you so much for joining me and we have a lot to talk about. And the reason why I wanted to do this show, there’s a lot of gestational surrogates. When you tell them well, you have to complete a psychological evaluation, in order to see if you can even qualify to become a surrogate, a lot of them instantly get nervous. I know I got nervous when I had first completed my psychological evaluation, and was going in there and was like, Oh, my God, they’re going to tell me that I’m crazy. They’re going to tell me that there’s no way in the world. And quite honestly, I think we all have a little bit of crazy anyway. But when it comes to the psychological evaluation to become a surrogate, and that’s a determining factor, it’s rather important. So wanted to be able to give everybody an opportunity to understand ahead of time, what is it really like and what can they expect when they go into a mental health professional’s office? Well, right now, maybe not necessarily physically in the office, maybe video. But we’ll talk about all of that. And what they can expect in kind of understand so that they can have a calmer sense of completing this evaluation. So before we get started, again, I know I just did the intro, but would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself and your background? And kind of what got you into this field?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Sure. Well, thank you so much. I really look forward to this and I am a psychologist, I am in fellow private practice. I have been in private practice for eight years in Atlanta. And I actually have a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, but all of my advanced training has been in clinical health and addiction psychology. And if we’re looking on the clinical health side, I really enjoy doing consultations and evaluations of people who are seeking specific kinds of medical interventions. Actually, early on in my career, I did some of that work with people seeking bariatric surgery. And then I ended up in this line of work, I mean, partially because of you, but partially also because of my own experience with fertility treatments. And I actually conceived my daughter, or we conceived our daughter using IVF.

And having just no upfront experience with that, I think, got me thinking about later on down the line. After I had my daughter, I just thought about, wow, how could I be of help or be a resource to other people who are trying to start a family or expand a family and you are a big part of this journey. I have not ever met a gestational surrogate or someone who has served as a surrogate ever before I met you. So I thought more about how I could sort of evolve my practice and be a resource to people who are trying to start to expand and obviously, work alongside a gestational carrier to start or expand a family. So I love this work. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. And so, yeah, so it’s a big part of what I love to do as a psychologist.

Eloise Drane
Awesome. Well, I’m glad you are too so. Okay, so first question. Why, why? What is the purpose of having a surrogate, or a potential woman who is interested in becoming a surrogate? Or should I just say, your gestational carrier? What is the purpose of having a psychological evaluation?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
There are a couple of reasons. I do want to preface my answer with one. This being a gestational carrier is one of the greatest sacrifices that any woman could make. And so right, you would know firsthand, so we want to make sure that people who are interested, who are candidates are good candidates. We also realize, circling back to your point earlier, that nobody coming through this process is going to be squeaky clean. Everybody’s got something, anybody who’s doing this kind of work, you know, consultations and evaluations know that something’s gonna pop up in the evaluation process. And we’re just trying to figure out, given that, to what extent is this person still a good candidate. We also want to help people understand or candidates understand the process that they might have to go through, if they’re cleared in terms of medical risks, medical demands, psychological risks, how might you handle it If there’s a setback? If there’s a transfer and a transfer doesn’t take, or, you know, there’s a spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, or how might you handle it if you move forward. And given all these demands, it results in the strain and your own relationship with your partner or your spouse.

To try to help people understand more about what they might be signing up for. Another reason why these consultations are helpful is that it’s often the case that intended parents want to have a little bit of a snapshot of the carrier trying to get a sense of who they are, see what they have in common, it’s often helpful for them to feel connected in some way to the gestational carrier candidate. And that might help them in decision making in terms of matching and things of that nature. And finally, we’re just trying to get a snapshot of who the candidate is, at the moment. I mean, we can’t predict with any great degree of specificity how the process will be like for them, you know, the arranger will be like for them months, maybe even years down the line, but we want to collect as much information as possible to be able to have a sense of what it might be like for them. So those are just a couple of reasons. I mean, we’ll go into greater detail, but those are just a couple of reasons as to why.

Eloise Drane
Okay, and then the majority of candidates, not the majority, but a lot of people also have spouses or partners, why do they have to be involved in a psychological evaluation?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Mm-hmm. Well, I mean, they play a big role, right? Like, we want to be able to have a sense of one, it’s also it’s always nice to see how the couple interacts during the consultation. And most couples come in and they say they’re nervous, and they’re like holding hands, and they want me to know that they get along and get along great. And we also have wonderful, we also want to get a sense of how they handle conflict, difficult conversations. We want to also have a sense of the spouse and the partner’s sort of status snapshot, who are they? And we also want to know if the spouse in the partner is going to be supportive is someone who’s encouraging the candidate to pursue this process, is this a spouse or a partner who is trying to sabotage the process or coerce the GC candidate in some way. So it really is important and required for the spouse or the partner to attend. So it’s helpful for the person or the examiner to have a sense of how they fit into all this. And also, I mean, we also asked many of the same questions of the spouse or partner as we do the carrier like we also want to know more about who they are, about their history. They play a huge role in this process.

Eloise Drane
Yeah, definitely. And that’s what I always try to impart to people when it comes to surrogacy is like, yes, the gestational carrier may be the one carrying the pregnancy and doing all of the work pretty much but she’s not the only one involved. I mean, it really is her, her spouse or partner, children, everybody that is in her circle as part of this journey, it’s not just her. So to have that support, I mean, I can’t even go into detail about how important it is to have support during a surrogacy pregnancy.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
For sure, we just want to make sure that the spouse, at least the spouse is they’re on the same page. And we also do ask about other people in their orbit, what about parenting their own parents or siblings or friends or sometimes people refer to their church family or something like that. And we just want to get a sense of to what extent people are supportive, or whether there is anyone else, even in their circles, who might be urging them to do this or pressuring them to do this. Because we certainly want to be able to make sure and talk with the carrier about that this is your decision really and no one else’s. And be very clear about that. Because this is, again, one of the highest sacrifices, and this is also carrying a baby for another couple, so we really want to assess pretty well for that.

Eloise Drane
Yep, absolutely. So let’s talk about the evaluation itself. And I typically tell people that it’s kind of a two-part process. And that there’s a part of verbally communicating and answering the questions that are being asked by the mental health professional, but then there’s also testing that is involved. So can you kind of speak on both parts? And then perhaps, also talk about what the testing is really utilized for.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Sure, sure. So we usually conduct what I call a clinical interview, but it really ends up being a different conversation. And, it’s really helpful to get a sense of who both parties are, the carrier and for a spouse or partner. And usually, you start the conversation, asking them about how they met, that’s always a fun story. Sort of getting a sense of where they been, where they going. A little bit about their family of origin. It’s also helpful to know, work history, we also obviously talk about their own relationship history. And again, how do they manage conflict? What have been some highs, what have been some lows in their relationship? And how have they managed that all? What if any significant losses have there been because we do also want to get a sense of how people manage separation from a significant relationship. In this case, and I’ll talk about this a little bit later, we also want to have a clearer sense of as clear as a possible sense of how the carrier might manage separation from the intended offspring at birth.

Often we ask about other aspects of their personal history, sexual history, we talk about medical history, it’s always nice to talk about what’s important to them what their values are, what are their goals, personally, you know, what are their strengths, personally, what are their growth, religion, it’s always a great opportunity to talk about what they believe. And, again, we’ll circle back later and talk about why that’s important when it comes to assisted reproductive technology. Yeah, again, just trying to get a sense of how people cope with stress, we asked about their history of emotional concerns, financial status. So it really is a pretty well rounded, I would say, conversation again, just trying to get this sort of 360 views of somebody, and just really two and a half hours, which is why we also do some testing, and I’ll come back to that in a little bit.

And just giving people often an opportunity to describe themselves, what are their qualities and things of that nature. And then later on, in the interview, and sometimes sprinkled here or there, it’s always helpful to get a sense of why, like, why and why now? What are your reasons for pursuing surrogacy? Why now? And sometimes carriers say, Well, I thought about it years ago, and I had a friend who served as a carrier and I just wasn’t in a position in my life where I could do it. And now that I’m married, and we’re finished having children, it seems to be like the right time. And that’s always like, a nice conversation to have with people and just our thoughts about surrogacy in general, we do get into some deeper details in terms of what if any thoughts they had about, you know, just envisioning what this process might be like for them. So for example, how many transfers are they willing to undergo in order to achieve a successful pregnancy? What are their thoughts about the medical demands, for example, having to possibly take medication or injections for an extended period of time? That is an awfully demanding process. You know, just it is a huge lifestyle change, you’re doing what you do day today. And then you also have to take medications or injections at a certain time and for an extended period of time. And so we do have questions around adherence and is this something that you think you could do? How do you think you might do it? We also explore again, the morals and religion and that piece, what do you believe about pregnancy, or what kinds of morals you have that might affect the process of selective reduction or abortion in the case that there might be multiple, or a great number of multiples.

Or if in the case, the fetus’s life, or it looks like the fetus, or the intended offspring might have a really poor quality of life? You know, where do you draw the line there in terms of what you believe morally, are your religious beliefs? And you know, under what circumstances would you do this or not? So that is really important because we have a similar conversation with intended parents there. What if they have multiples? Having a conversation about risks, and the potential for infertility and death in general, as it relates to pregnancy, the increased risk when it comes to multiples, were their thoughts about that, are they willing to carry multiplies? If so, up to how many? Cross-cultural issues and this is also a very interesting conversation to have with people like, what are your thoughts about cross cultural dynamics? Who are you willing to carry for? Maybe who are you not willing to carry for? Are you willing to carry for intended parents who are racially or ethnically different from you? Who has religious differences? Maybe differences in sexual orientation? If you’re a heterosexual carrier, are you open to carrying for same-sex couple? And if that is the case, are there allies again, in your orbit? This is where the support system comes becomes really important? Are there allies in your orbit? Who, you know, if the couple went to visit you while you were pregnant, that would be an affirming space for them? And then, you know, to some other questions like, Are you willing to stay in the state where you are until parentage is established? If the IPs intended parents have many restrictions what do you think about that? If they asked you to follow a vegetarian diet, is that something you’re willing to sign up for? They have travel restrictions, which has been definitely a conversation to have during the pandemic, it already was in terms of, Zika infected areas, but with the pandemic, we’ve become even more restricted in terms of our freedom to travel.

So you know, how might you handle that? Or, obviously, how might you handle separations and time of delivery? So, we really do walk people, through the process help them to envision what might it be like leading up to the transfer, after the transfer, during pregnancy, at the time of delivery? And then like, what kind of relationships we even want with IPs? Do you want this to be a business-like relationship? Do you want there to be like, do you want to receive sort of updates on milestones over the years? Or do you want to be more like an extended family to the IPs to the intended offspring? Do you even want to meet the intended offspring? Oftentimes, and you know, the surrogacy agencies, and especially yours sound like do a really good job with having these conversations upfront. And so the consultation is another opportunity to have this conversation. And oftentimes, I noticed that people think more about this from the time they meet with the surrogacy agency to the time that they show up and see me. But you know, we still have some conversations about issues or dynamics they may not have even thought of.

Eloise Drane
So now, what about going back to the testing, and there is this, which I really hate, but this personality tests that that’s out there? So there are two correct that people tend to use?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
There are two that people tend to use. Yes. And the reason for this is because we often have way more questions to ask them than time allows for. And not to mention, even according to you know, basically any ethics code you might see around assessment will usually say that it’s really helpful to collect more than one source of data in order to help make a determination. Or in order to develop some like impressions about what you see as an examiner. So it really is an ethical thing to do some testing. And so it really is helpful because these are tests that are designed to pick up on a very wide variety of personality characteristics. And so basically just I usually tell people, you know that and so, just try to approach it in an honest and open manner. I mean, you know, we’re trying to get to know you. And the only way we can again, determine the degree of fit for this process, and obviously, for the IPs is to really for the carrier candidate to be as open as possible, so we can have the information you need to make that determination about fit and match.

Eloise Drane
And what are the tests called?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
And there’s, I mean, there are no specific tests that we have to choose, but it seems like one of them, some of the more popular ones are the MMPI, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, and the PMI personality assessment inventory.

Eloise Drane
And is it, and I know this because I’ve taken them many, many times. Fill in the bubble.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Yep. They’re both multiple choice. And they’re self-administered. So people, you know, usually in most cases, do it themselves. And then, you know, we may Proctor, and usually do Proctor and just be there the person has any questions, obviously, you know, give them directions, see if they have any questions, and then they completed on their own. And then once they’re finished, they let us know. And then what we do is take time to score it, interpret it, take that information, compare it to the information we collected during the conversation, and it’s really, really is often very helpful to help us again, like, get a sense of who people are, how they might manage certain situations, communicate, manage conflict, things of that nature.

Eloise Drane
Okay. Is it common for the spouses to also take those tests? We don’t necessarily require the spouses to take them. But you know, I don’t know about every other agency or physician or whatever.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Right. It seems to me that it varies, it’s really up to the clinical judgment of the mental health provider, I don’t typically administer the questionnaire to the spouses or partners unless I have a question or less I observe something and I think I want to look into something or maybe there’s something about their history or psychological history or something I’d like to look further into. It’s rare that I administer a questionnaire. And then I know people who do that in regular practice, they actually assess both the spouse or partner and the carrier candidate. So really just varies by the provider.

Eloise Drane
Yeah, definitely. So now, obviously, we’ve done the GCs evaluation. And so let’s hop over to the intended parents. And for the intended parents, though, it’s not necessarily an evaluation, it’s more of a consultation. Can you share the difference?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Yes. So, you know, I often begin, I do begin the conversation with the intended parents and let them know, this is not a parental fitness evaluation. I’m not trying to determine whether or not they would be good parents, the purpose of the consultation is really again, just to make sure they know what they’re signing up for in the process of seeking a gestational carrier. Help them understand, again, some of the demands some of the psychological risks, and we really just want to make sure that we have a conversation necessary to that it’s a positive experience for them, it’s a healthy experience for them. We also want them to have a sense of what the nuances are in their process. And for the most part, I’ve worked with intended parents who had their own experience with fertility treatment.

So that’s kind of nice, because they already have a good idea about certain medical risks and certain emotional risks, and obviously, still want to have a conversation in terms of how that all plays out when you invite a gestational carrier into the picture. And so, even with intended parents who have not had any experience with art, still having a conversation about what are you signing up for, what are the nuances, how might you manage? We all hope for success, right? In the case that there are setbacks, how might you manage that as a couple or with the GC, or even if there is a disagreement with the GC, how might you handle that? What are your expectations here? So It’s a much shorter conversation that usually runs about an hour to an hour and a half. There’s not usually any testing involved. And again, there that also varies by provider. There are some providers who do administer questionnaires to intended parents, I tend to not do that, again, unless I don’t think I need to look into something, which is usually not the case.

Eloise Drane
So for the intended parents, is there anything that they need to be aware of when they are going in for their psychological consultation? I’ve had many times where we tell the intended parents Oh, yeah, you have to complete a psychological consultation. And everybody’s like, Well, I mean, I think that I’m okay. And, but what kind of questions are they going to ask? I mean, are they going to be, and I always have to remind them, it’s like, nobody is evaluating you to determine if you’re going to be suitable parents. It’s to make sure that you really understand the process, but the way that you can kind of share with them so that they know what they’re going to experience when they’re going in for their consultation.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Yeah, again, and it’s definitely what it is not is a parental fitness evaluation. I think probably most people get anxious when they hear the words, psychologist and evaluation in the same sentence, or even consultation or just even psychologist, right? People are nervous about what’s this person going to think? And also, if they, once they come to a conclusion, how would it affect us? And so, IPs are often nervous. So just helping them understand that this really is just a conversation. The conversation about the process, what to expect, what do you already know? And what, where can I help you fill in the gaps to help you make a decision, a very informed decision about whether or not you want to move forward here. Oftentimes, and obviously, there’s the snapshot about like, trying to get a snapshot of who people are and their background and all of that, and people are often very open because I think by the time I reached that point in the interview, they feel very comfortable. But the point is to be comfortable, to be yourself, I’m not here, or the psychologist or the mental health provider, is not there to make termination of judgment about you that this really is an opportunity again, for us to get to know you. And in order for us to do that, it is helpful for you to be open and honest. And just be yourself really. And also, it can be a great opportunity to, to learn some information. So for example, there are some intended parents I’ve worked with in the past who are interested in working with a gestational carrier. And we’re also interested in using like an egg donor, or a sperm donor and so just to get more information about that, right? What’s the difference between an anonymous donor and open donor and an open ID donor, and really making sure that people have the educational information that they need to make informed decisions about going into this process? And thinking forward to.

What if you do decide to use a donor, and you move forward with the process with a donor egg or sperm? How, how might you handle that five years down the line? 10 years down the line? Is it something you might regret? If this is something that you would like for the intended offspring to know about, how might you handle that? And based on that, related to that what kind of donor might you choose, you know, donor arrangement might you choose? So and it’s also a great opportunity to, for people to think about cultural issues as this plays out. So, if using a donor, for example, having conversations about racial similarities, and things of that nature, so oftentimes intended parents really appreciate the conversation at the end of the day, even though they’re nervous the beginning, but really helps them think this through as much as possible, what they could expect, and help them think about things that they hadn’t really thought about. But obviously in a safe and collaborative space.

Eloise Drane
And then now, so the parents have to have their psychological consultation. And then of course, the GC has had her psychological evaluation. And then once everybody’s matched and ready to go, then we say, well, you also have to have a joint psychological consultation. So can you share a bit about that?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
And that’s really brief, like that might be 30 minutes to an hour. And it’s just sort of a meeting of the minds, the parties come together, and the mental health provider goes through and basically just a meeting to make sure sure that everybody’s on the same page with the transfer plan, the delivery plan, what if any expectations there might be the carrier once the carrier’s pregnant. Again, this is an opportunity to make sure everyone’s on the same page about what if any dietary restrictions, there are travel restrictions. Also another opportunity to have a conversation about morals and religion and you know, an agreement on how folks might handle the situation if there’s a need for selective reduction. If there are many multiples or abortions and just want to make sure everyone’s on the same page, and get a sense of how they communicate.

Whether it’s in the actual room or the virtual room, helps us get a sense of how they might manage conflict. Also, have a conversation about that when there are disagreements, and they often say, oh, no, no, no, there’s not gonna be any disagreements. And I have to go back in and say when there are disagreements because that’s going to happen. We want to talk about how do you want to handle that. What is going to be the norm? You know, how do you prefer to have these conversations, most people say, Well, definitely not texting or email, phone is preferable or video conference, or something of that nature or a physical meeting, even. So it really is stuff that happens on the backend. And we just want to fine-tune and make sure everyone’s on the same page about how they will move forward in the process, again, to the best of our ability, we can’t predict, again, with any great degree of specificity how things are going to play out, especially in the middle of the pandemic, but at least have a game plan or blueprint.

Eloise Drane
And the thing about surrogacy is really about trust like you have to be able to trust one another. And then you have to be able to communicate with one another. And if there are those two things involved, then not to say that there’s not going to be hiccups and issues or whatever. But if you can, if you can easily communicate, and if you trust each other, then those things that come up are easier to figure out and adapt to and move forward.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Yes, for sure. And that’s part of the reason why we do all of this assessment is because we want to make sure that one of the qualities a carrier has, for example, is that she has the potential to trust people. There might be some carriers who had been burned in the past or have like an extensive history, where it really is hard for them to take a risk and trust people. And even communicate with people. So we really want to make sure that again, we’re not looking for a squeaky clean candidate, there’s, there’s no such thing, we do want to have a sense of how this person approaches difficult conversations.

And sometimes actually, what’s often the case is I’m having to talk to the carrier candidate about their need to be assertive. There’s something that the intended parent is asking them to do to say something. Many carriers think and some of them have this style where they tend to be maybe passive or defer to other people in general. And then just imagine how that might show up in an arrangement where intended parents are spending 1000s and 1000s of dollars on medical interventions, and this and that. And so sometimes carriers feel like, well, I’m not in any place to say anything, because I’m doing them a favor. And it really is important to have a conversation about that not just during the consultation with a carrier candidate, but also during the joint consultation. How are you going to definitely important to assert yourself, tell them what you need, right? And step up and just be clear about what your boundaries are with the IP and you can feel it do a good job as a carrier while being firm and direct and assertive.

Eloise Drane
Yeah, definitely. Sometimes, there are others like me, who are very direct and just need to say so.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Right. But even then that, like being direct, trust comes from that. If someone is direct about what they need the receiving party’s like, Hmm, well, at least I know that, you know, they’re a straight shooter. They say what they need to say and so, trust can grow from that I think transparency.

Eloise Drane
So what would you tell both parties in conclusion, when it comes to the psychological or the should I say the mental health side of surrogacy?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
In terms of the life cycle?

Eloise Drane
Just in general. What should or what can help them through the process and try to make it as smooth as possible? So not that it’s another thing to check off the box and okay, fine, it’s behind me, and I’m done. But so that they can really utilize and really take what you said or take what the mental health person said, and really help use it to help them throughout their journeys.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Got it? Right. Well, one thing that can be helpful, or I have a conversation with people about is, let’s say there is a history of either party or both parties sometimes have a history of anxiety or depression and to some extent depression. It’s a nice opportunity to talk about, if this pops up during this process, how might you handle this? And again, we do get into assessing what the potential risks are there as well. Like, if someone has a history, like a history of psychological problems, how might this play out? So we do have a conversation about potential risks that they do move forward, and if they are cleared, then how might you handle this, if it pops up? This anxiety or depression or whatever that is. Or if there’s a trauma history, how might you or how have you in the past managed to go in for GYN exams, or OB exams, or whatever that is? So it’s nice to sort of foreshadow a little bit or predict a little bit around that. The other thing that I strongly encourage both parties to do is to seek professional support, at any time during this process, whether even if they’re just waiting for medical clearance, before to transfer after the transfer during pregnancy, following delivery, at any time. It can be very, very, very, very helpful. Again, there are so many, just not just the medical demands and the schedules of the medication, but also just the, again, the emotional risks here.

How to cope with the potential setbacks or sometimes cycles are canceled for some reason, or they stop, and hopes, hopes are up. And next thing, you know, things go south and oh, we have to stop and start over again. And that can be extremely difficult for people to accept and very, very stressful and not to mention, having to go to clinics at 7 am in the morning a couple of days consecutive days or whatever that is. But just to help people think about seeking professional support for a mental health provider to help them cope, help them manage stress, along with the many other things that are going on. These folks often already have families, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So really, really strongly encourage people to think about that. And, you know, think far into the future about how they might handle certain situations that tax them quite a bit.

Eloise Drane
And speaking of this pandemic, I know it’s changed a lot of things about how people do stuff now. So how is it working now with people completing evaluations, or consultations, and it all has to be remote or via video?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Right. Well, again, providers vary in how they’re providing mental health services. I’m one of those providers where I plan to work virtually probably well into the spring of 2020.

Eloise Drane
You mean 2021?

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Thank you for that. Funny, funny. Thank you for that correction. So I’m so right now I’m using a video conferencing platform to do all of my work. And even in the virtual room, I think we still are able to have these good conversations. Obviously, I do ask, I have to sort of adjust my direction, like make sure that you both know both parties are the GC carrier candidate, for example, has a spouse or a partner, just make sure your spouse or partner is also within the camera view. I need to see you both same with the intended parents. And I don’t notice a difference in the depth of conversation. We can still have very good conversations. It’s just the format. It’s just very different, the setting is very different. But yeah, just I am still practicing physical distancing, to minimize any risk here and certainly discussion about even being pregnant during the pandemic, that’s obviously a discussion to have. What are your thoughts about that? And actually, many people I speak with are really thinking this is short. I mean, they’re already working from home, they think that’s kind of a nice thing to be pregnant while working from home. Right, like they’re able to rest when they need to. So they actually see it as an advantage to be pregnant during the pandemic.

Eloise Drane
Well, Angela, I thank you so much for joining us in answering these questions and kind of giving somebody a picture of what they can expect. And hopefully, this will kind of give them a better understanding and make them a little less nervous when they’re going in the door.

Angela Bethea-Walsh
Oh, yes, I just want to thank you for the opportunity. I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this conversation, because I think it is important for people to have a better sense of what to expect even from a mental health provider’s perspective. And that the best conversations are the ones where people feel like they can be themselves. You know, all of this is really just to get as much information as we can to make sure that whatever match arrangement happens from this that as much as possible determine that it’s going to be a positive and healthy one for everybody. Right. So, thank you so much, Eloise, I appreciate it.

Eloise Drane
I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. You can follow Fertility Cafe on Instagram and Facebook. If you haven’t yet, go to your listening platform of choice and subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. We’d also love you to share Fertility Café with friends and family members who would benefit from the information shared. This episode concludes Season One of Fertility Café. Stay tuned for season two for more conversations about modern family building. Thank you so much for joining me today. I’m Eloise Drane. Remember, love has no limits, neither should parenthood.

Outro
Thank you for joining us in the Fertility Café. Whether you’re an intended parent, a woman considering egg donation, thinking of becoming a surrogate yourself, or a friend or family member of someone dealing with infertility, we’re here to help. Visit our website the fertilitycafe.com for resources on fertility, alternative family building, and making this journey your own.

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