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SSA/Parenting Options maintains the highest level of qualified professional staff. Couples, donors, and surrogates can all feel secure that their needs are being met by staff members who are qualified in the area which they handle. The support staff is trained in HIPPA to protect the rights of confidentiality of our clients.  No agency provides a more qualified staff than SSA/Parenting Options.

Executive Agency Director and Houston Counselor


Kathy Stern holds a Master's Degree in Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, and Board Certified Psychotherapist.  She is also a Professional Certified Mediator, a Distance Credentialed Counselor, and a Clinical Supervisor for counselor interns.   The combination of professional experience in adoption and infertility with personal experience in infertility makes Kathy a specialist in the emotional aspects of infertility.  In addition to her practice as director and counselor of SSA, Kathy leads Mind/Body Wellness Groups for stress reduction.  She also developed an online mind/body program for participants to take in the privacy of their own home on thier own schedule.  Go to

Counseling for the following:

Medical Symptoms Reduction,  Menopause Stress Relief, Marriage and Relationships, Depression and Anxiety, Medical and Health concerns, Grief and Loss, Work and Career issues, Stress Management, Conflict Resolution

Kathy received her training in Infertility, Menopause, Medical Symptom Reduction, and Cancer from the Mind/Body Medical Institute of Harvard Medical School. She is accredited through the International Association of Mind/Body Professionals. Kathy is a member of the American Counseling Association, the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, American Psychotherapist Association, and a Mental Health Member of the American Society For Reproductive Medicine.

Legal Department - The Law Offices of Gregory E. Stern


Greg Stern has been a practicing attorney since 1980. In addition to his private practice, he provides legal services for SSA and Parenting Options clients, as well as other agencies across the country. Greg has completed numerous surrogate and egg donor arrangements and adoptions in the Texas courts. He represents several of the major Texas fertility clinics on legal matters for their assisted reproduction programs. Greg speaks frequently at RESOLVE and elsewhere and has published several articles explaining the legal issues of assisted reproduction. Greg is a graduate of NYU Law School and a former adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law School. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, State Bar of Georgia, State Bar of Colorado, and State Bar of Maryland, and the Reproductive & Genetic Technologies Committee of the American Bar Association, and the American Society For Reproductive Medicine.  Greg is licensed in the states of Texas, Georgia, Colorado, and Maryland.

Dallas Counselor

Erica Almendarez holds a Master's of Science degree in Psychology and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. She graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University, with a concentration in marriage and family therapy.  She has experience in couples and family outpatient therapy, as well as psychosocial assessments. She has conducted both group and individual therapy. She assists the Dallas and surrounding clients and facilitates the Dallas support group meetings.

Atlanta Counselor

Lori Owens holds a master's degree in social work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.   She attended Sorbone in Paris and assist with our French speaking clients.   Lori  is also a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner.  She has experience in adult outpatient therapy,  and psychosocial assessments.  She has conducted both group and individual therapy.   She assist the Atlanta and surrounding clients and facilitates the Atlanta support group meetings.

SSA/Parenting Options Coordinator

Amanda Hodges holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Biology.  She provides assistance to the surrogates, donors and couples throughout the process by keeping in contact with all parties, offering support and notifying all parties of any updates throughout the arrangement.  She assists in the initial paperwork and interviewing process and also manages the surrogate and donor database.  Amanda works closely with Kathy and provides her support as needed.

Cathy Zelzer holds a master's degree in counseling. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. She is the President of Counseling Solutions. Cathy specializes in family therapy and mediation.   In addition to her responsibilities with SSA/Parenting Options, Cathy conducts classes in Parenting, Life Skills, and Crisis Intervention. Cathy is the agency Coordinating Counselor, assisting all SSA arrangements in a counseling capacity.   She counsels both surrogates and couples throughout the process and coordinates with the hospital social workers to facilitate a smoother process at delivery time.  Cathy conducts SSA mediated meetings and facilitates the Dallas area support groups.

Home Visit Counselor

Miranda Swiderski is our lead home visit counselor.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Counseling and Development. Miranda has experience as a caseworker for MHMR, where she worked extensively with families in their home environments. Miranda visits our surrogates in their home. She conducts an investigation of the home and reports on the family dynamics.  Miranda is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Intern.  Miranda has conducted SSA home visits since 2003.