Family-building through sperm donation

Donor conception is an alternate way of creating a family. Some consider it the same as having a child without donor assistance, although there are differences. Until a child is born, we often don’t see the unique and sometimes complex issues related to this kind of family-building. Therefore, many find it helpful to explore ahead of time, to ensure this method of family-building is right for them.

There are a number of resources available on this topic (e.g., Building a Family with the Assistance of Donor Insemination by Ken Daniels). There are also experts who provide informational sessions on family-building through donor conception. They can provide multiple or one-time educational meetings and/or workshops to help you prepare for having a child with the assistance of a sperm donor. Many recipients and parents find it helpful to seek expert guidance, and find this knowledge to be useful as they move through this process. Below are some of the resources we most recommend:

Note: Many of the individuals below are also available virtually or by phone.

San Francisco & larger Bay Area

Listed alphabetically

  • Kathy Brady, LCSW. Maya Wellness Therapy is a psychotherapy practice specifically focused on meeting the mental health and emotional needs of women of all ages, mothers, and LGBTQ parents and families. Specialty areas include: LGBTQ family dynamics, family formation counseling, postpartum depression and anxiety, parenting issues, adoption and infant mental health.
  • Diane Cote, LCSW. Specializes in mindfulness based psychotherapy, infertility counseling and related reproductive health issues. She is also a yoga teacher (RYT) and offers yoga workshops for fertility and emotional health. San Francisco 415-366-8830
  • Cheryl Deaner, MS, MFT facilitates “considering parenthood” groups and specializes in family-building issues among LGBTQ families. Founder and former director of Our Family Coalition. Oakland & San Francisco 415-282-2200; [email protected]
  • Joelle Ehre, MA, LMFT provides supportive psychotherapy and reproductive counseling to individuals and couples seeking to build their families using gamete donation. Specialties include infertility, couples therapy and intended parent consultations for reproductive clinics. Also provides support around pregnancy loss, infant loss. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. LGBTQ affirmative and antiracist. Oakland and online; 510-788-0804.
  • Diane Ehrensaft, PhD offers consultations and/or therapy related to parenting, LGBTQI families, gender identity and psychological issues for families using assisted reproductive technology. Just because people are brave enough to create nontraditional families doesn’t mean they’ve anticipated the difficult questions those arrangements raise. Oakland 510-280-2938; [email protected]
  • Laura Goldberger, MFT is a therapist who sees individuals and couples who are in the process of making and supporting a family. Laura has worked with LGBTQ+, trans/non-binary, and BIPOC parents, couples, and children for over 25 years and is a queer parent. Berkeley 510-665-7755; [email protected]
  • Aretha Hampton, LCSW works with all populations and specializes in trauma, pregnancy, fertility and parent-infant mental health. 510-847-8847
  • Tracy Jones, LSCW. Founder of Oaktown Therapy for Black and Brown people. Her areas of expertise include Infertility and IVF Struggles, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Single Mother’s By Choice, and Black Maternal Mental Health & Racial Trauma
  • Marsha Hiller, MFT works with children, adolescents and adults who have come together as family through donor insemination and adoption. Marsha has extensive experience with issues related to identity development, parenting, cross-racial families, and, in adoption, searching for and developing relationships with birth parents and siblings. Berkeley 510-644-2724
  • Tracy Jones, LCSW is a therapist who specializes in pregnancy and infant loss, who has also counseled both women and men around issues of (in)fertility. Her practice is 100% virtual, and she is able to see clients throughout California. Her particular populations are Mocha Moms, single mothers by choice, LBGTQ+, heterosexual identified individuals and men. Virtually throughout California, [email protected], (510) 473-2263
  • Madeleine Katz, Psy D provides consultations, education, and resources to help individuals and couples considering and/or doing family building through assisted conception, and with pregnancy loss. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. San Francisco 415-937-0425
  • Sara Lesser, LCSW is an experienced therapist working with couples, individuals and groups helping people lead fulfilling lives. She specializes in LGBTQ+ issues, parenting and alternative family building. Oakland 510-459-7551
  • Lori Rifkin, PhD is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She specializes in psychotherapy, consultation, life transition therapy. San Rafael and San Francisco 415-485-1976
  • Michelle Sicula, MA, JD is an experienced Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing individual and couples therapy for clients building their families through sperm, ovum, or embryo donation or using a gestational carrier. Michelle supports clients experiencing infertility, coping with perinatal loss, and/or making decisions about how to build their family or whether to live child-free. Michelle is certified in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (“EFT”) and is an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. San Francisco and Oakland, CA; 510-457-1246; [email protected]
  • Mary Tennes, PhD works with adolescents and adults on issues related to families created through donor conception. Oakland 510-653-1313

Los Angeles & surrounds

  • Elaine Gordon, PhD. Elaine’s goal is to help individuals build healthy families with the help of donors and/or gestational carriers. Also provides support around pregnancy loss. She is also the author of Mommy, Did I Grow in Your Tummy? Where Many Babies Come From, a children’s book dedicated to explaining a child’s unique reproductive beginnings. Be sure to check out resources at her website. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. Los Angeles area 310-454-0502 [email protected]
  • Carole LieberWilkins, MA, MFT, provides psychoeducational consultations and individual and couples counseling around family building with sperm, egg and embryo donation and/or surrogacy. Also provides support around pregnancy loss. Carole is well known for her work on talking with children about family building, including having co-authored Let’s Talk about Egg Donation: Real Stories from Real People, the quintessential read for those pursuing or already parenting through egg or embryo donation. She is a founding member of Resolve of Greater Los Angeles and a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group. West Los Angeles (310) 470-9049, [email protected] Also licensed in Idaho.
  • Tonya Wood, PhD provides psychotherapy, consultation, psychological evaluations, education, and resources to help individuals and families through the infertility/reproductive process. Whether you’re at the beginning of the fertility process, recovering from miscarriage, pursuing adoption, or considering a child-free life, Tonya Wood and her associates are available to offer support and guidance. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. Los Angeles area 310-404-1816

Seattle area

  • Michele Pomarico, LCSW. Experienced therapist helping individuals through major life transitions, difficult losses, and family building decisions. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. Seattle area 206-524-5066


  • Deborah Simmons, PhD, LMFT. Expert in pregnancy loss & infertility counseling, including psychoeducation for donor eggs, donor sperm, and surrogacy. Twin Cities MN, 612-324-1207

New York City, New Jersey & surrounds

  • Dorian Kavanagh, LCSW.  Specializing in infertility, adoption, complex family building, pregnancy loss and DNA surprises. Dori has particular interests in LGBTQ+ family building and third-party reproduction. Member of American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group and of Postpartum Support International.  Private practice and also available for recipient consults at RMA NJ.  New Jersey, New York, 917-923-5497 [email protected]
  • Lisa Schuman, LCSW. The Center for Family Building. Helps you develop a family-building plan and link you to the latest resources; offers monthly support groups – all accessible online. American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Mental Health Professional Group member. New York 212-874-1318