Career and Education
Jana is a licensed professional counselor and consultant and has helped thousands of people facing the psychological and social challenges of infertility as well as those preparing for third-party family building and adoption. She received a bachelor of science from Texas A&M University and a master of arts, in professional counseling from Amber University.
Author and Speaker
Jana, host and creator of Three Makes Baby Podcast, shares interviews and stories with over 70 guests. Her guests include parents, adults donor conceived people and experts. discussing fertility, family and genetics.
Jana founded International Donor Conception Awareness Day (IDCAD).
Jana knows what it’s like to be in a non-biological family, as an adoptee and adoptive mom. She also knows what it’s like to experience infertility. She and her husband had secondary infertility and adopted their daughter from China. Since then Jana has helped thousands of people during their path to pregnancy, especially those preparing to grow their family in non-traditional ways.
Interview with Donor Conception Newtwork
DCN: What motivated you to become a psychotherapist and why did you decide to specialise in infertility and family building?
Jana: When I was 18 years old, I sat next to a psychologist on an airplane on my first trip to NYC. He happened to be on his way to meet his birth mother for the first time in his life at 55 years old. Two years later, he helped me locate my birth father. After my husband and I experienced secondary infertility and adopted our daughter from China, I knew I wanted to help other non-traditional families like ours. I understood the pain, heartache and healing, as well as the complex topics and unique family dynamics that can emerge in a genetically diverse family system.
DCN: How have your personal family experiences informed your work?
Jana: My mom and dad experienced infertility and a miscarriage which lead them to adopt my twin brother and I as babies. They say the past repeats itself, perhaps in an effort to improve upon it, so my husband and I also experienced infertility and adopted a child. I began working as an infertility and adoption counselor and gradually shifted to donor conception counseling, as a few local doctors began to send donors and parents to me before an egg donation procedure.
DCN: You wear many hats, please can you tell us about your work as a successful author and podcast host?
Jana: I wanted to reach people outside of Dallas here I am based, and I knew there were families out there that needed more resources. I decided that writing a book could serve that need. Three Makes Baby, (a play on the popular American phrase, “Baby Makes Three”, is the result of a decade of work with intended parents through donor conception. A 60-minute session wasn’t enough to cover my client’s needs and they needed a resource they could take home to absorb and process over time.
As the creator and host of Three Makes Baby podcast, I can expand upon the topics in book, making them “come alive” by sharing real stories with real people. I see a gap in communication between parents of donor conceived individuals and donor conceived adults. My passion is to bring these voices together to raise important topics and educate families with the main goal of creating healthy narratives for non-traditional families.
DCN: How important do you think counselling is for people considering family creation through donor conception?
Jana: I think counseling is absolutely essential and should be a standard part of treatment. Donor conception impacts families across the lifespan and many couples are understandably focused on getting pregnant in the present moment. It’s difficult to think about a future that may not happen, but it’s even more difficult to live a life based on misinformed decision. Counseling informs and provides potential perspectives that are otherwise difficult to know.
DCN: What are your thoughts on telling and talking about donor conception?
Jana: I believe that open and honest communication establishes trustworthiness, supports the attachment process and fosters healthy identity development. For these reasons, I am a proponent for telling early and talking often, starting an ongoing dialogue about donor conception beginning in your child’s baby years. I encourage parents to continue the dialogue using teaching moments, probing questions and discussions that arise naturally across the lifespan. Talking to your child about difficult topics requires you to tune in to their actions, feelings and behavior and make connections that they may not have the capacity to at a young age.
Of-course this type of communication requires that parents be comfortable with the topic themselves. That’s why the first half of my book is dedicated to the parent’s emotional, social and psychological preparation for donor conception.
DCN: Do you feel attitudes and understanding about the different routes to family creation have changed over the years?
Jana: Yes, over the past decade of working in the field, I’ve witnessed more people becoming informed and aware of different routes to family building. For example, when I began this work, many people had not heard of egg donation or embryo adoption, so raising awareness of the families’ psycho-social needs was a big leap. Many agencies, doctors, and clinics ignored this aspect of family building and couples weren’t ready to hear it. Secrecy was also the rule, not the exception. It was common for my clients to tell me that I was the only person they had told about their plans to use a donor. Since then, the birth of social media has changed the conversation, opening up the dialogue more than ever before.
DCN: In your experience, do you feel core parental concerns over infertility, family creation and parenting remain the same or are you seeing new challenges presented as attitudes, information and opportunities change over time?
Jana: As the dialogue opens up about infertility and donor conception, parents have questions about the social, family and cultural challenges that arise from being open, as well as the best way to communicate with their children at various stages of development. For example, what you say to a preschool age child is very different than how to communicate with a teenager. My book addresses these natural consequences of openness, including how parents can talk with their children at different ages and stages of development. The second half of the book provides scripts and phrases for parents to use from the baby years to adolescence.
DCN: What has been the impact of DNA testing?
Jana: Direct-to-consumer DNA testing has lifted the lid on the secrecy from the past. It is no longer possible to guarantee that a person’s genetic make-up will remain unknown to them for a lifetime. Genetic kin is able to locate one another online with a few clicks of a keyboard.
DCN: What are your hopes for the future?
Jana: My hope is that the field of donor conception will take lessons from decades of research within the adoption community and implement a higher level of support, resources and ongoing education for families. I also hope that the field of donor conception will take steps toward allowing open access to genetic information for the children born through donation.
Awards and Recognition
Best Author Award 2022
Amazon Best-selling Reproductive Technology Book 2019
Three Makes Baby
Amazon’s top selling book
Three Makes Baby Podcast
In top 10% of podcasts.