• Tricia Anbinder

The AFSA Story

Have you ever met someone and instantly known that she would become a part of your life forever? Or experienced a moment when it feels like the lights get turned on for a flash of clarity and awareness? That’s what happened when Shubha and I first met.

In October of 2016, a colleague gathered a group of Atlanta therapists specializing in infertility to meet for case consultation, networking, and peer education (this gathering soon evolved into the Atlanta Fertility Mental Health Consortium). Shubha and I were amongst a handful of clinicians sharing introductions during that first meeting, and our connection was immediate. Before we left that meeting, she and I had scheduled our first of many lunches together.

From that first lunch, Shubha and I began to bond over our individual journeys with infertility and the calling we both feel to work with those struggling to build their own families. And, in speaking about what we each had longed for when we were on that painful path, we asked ourselves: What’s missing? How can we help those experiencing infertility not only survive, but make meaning out of their experience, grow from it, and connect through it?

A list of dream services quickly emerged:

* Seminars that educate couples on the psychological impact of infertility and on the self-care and compassionate practices that can draw couples closer together as they forge ahead into assisted reproduction

* Seminars that educate family members and friends of those experiencing infertility on the diagnoses, treatments, and terminology often involved in infertility services, in addition to how to offer support to their affected loved ones

* Individualized consultation services for anyone considering IUI, IVF, third party donor conception, or any other infertility treatments

* Therapy groups for women, men, and couples that can help them build the kinds of connections that are so critical for traveling the path of infertility with strength and meaning

* Connection to local resources, events, and providers that can give clients a sense of community support and options for building their own self-care treatment plans

* Supportive services for the staff of Reproductive Endocrinology Centers (“Infertility Clinics”), including psychological support for those managing secondary grief, consultation to increase productive partnerships between staff and patients, and staff education on the psychological impact of infertility and how to support patients’ overall wellbeing

The more we talked, the more excited we became. The more excited we became, the more we knew: If these services aren’t being offered, we must offer them. Within weeks, we set to work creating Atlanta Fertility Support Alliance, and we haven’t looked back since.

Today, we are thrilled to spread the word about AFSA and all we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. From the moment we began sharing our vision with colleagues, clients, and clinics, the response has been overwhelming: Atlanta has been thirsty for these services, and AFSA has the momentum, structure, and heart to offer them with widespread accessibility.

AFSA was able to pick up steam quickly, and we are proud to report that we have already begun providing all of those “dream services” we envisioned during our first lunch together. We’ve been touched and encouraged by the response we’ve received from individuals, couples, mental health professionals, nurses, physicians, and the reproductive mental health community at large.

We are continuing to bring our vision to more and more Atlantans experiencing infertility, and we promise that exciting things are in the works! In the meantime, we’re so grateful for your interest and support. And, of course, if you or someone you love is walking the painful path of infertility, we are here to help.