A psychological evaluation is usually a prerequisite for women who want to become surrogates. While it sounds intimidating, it’s nothing to fear and not as complicated as it sounds.
The surrogacy psychological evaluation gathers essential information about the emotional state of surrogacy candidates. As most of us know, pregnancy can be demanding both physically and emotionally. A surrogacy agency has the responsibility of assessing its candidates and making sure that it’s accepting women who are capable of going through with the surrogacy process.
Pregnancy can give us a double whammy of pleasure and pain all at once. It can be stressful at hard at times. The evaluation assesses a mother’s general personality, medical history, and background. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that all gestational carriers go through psychological evaluation and counseling.
The evaluation also helps parents to determine if the mother meets the general requirements to carry the child. Intended parents want to know that they will be working with someone they can count on. It also ensures that the surrogate knows the full scope of the commitment.
With that said, should you be worried?
Not at all, the evaluation is actually a good thing. It’s a chance for you to talk with a mental health specialist about anything that’s on your mind. Remember, choosing to be a surrogate is a big deal. You want to feel sure that you’re making the right decision, not the wrong one.
Going through the evaluation is a chance for you to discuss your feelings and be open about your concerns. It’s also an opportunity to discuss any potential challenges that may lie ahead and how to prepare for them.
For surrogates, the evaluation contains two components: the first is a written inventory, and the second is a clinical interview.
During the first portion, you will be asked to take the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). The PAI will ask questions regarding mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol use, and other types of behaviors.
This is more of a survey rather than a test. There are no right or wrong answers, but it is important that you be completely truthful.
During the second portion, you will meet with a psychologist or other mental health specialist. This person will ask you more specific questions about your history and background. She will also ask questions such as, “why do you want to be a surrogate” and “what does the surrogacy journey mean for you?”
She may also want to know more about your background and family life, as well as your opinions on abortion and other scenarios that deal with an unsuccessful pregnancy. If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, it may be possible that the psychologist may want to speak to your partner. This conversation guarantees the agency and the intended parents that you have the support of your significant other in your decision.
Intended parents are generally responsible for fees related to psychological screenings. In rare cases, some parents may be willing to forgo this step altogether if they feel confident enough with the surrogate. However, psychological evaluations are standard practice, and most candidates will have to go through one.
Surrogates are not the only ones that go through an evaluation. In fact, you and the parents should all meet together with the psychologist
Surrogacy is a big decision for everyone involved. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of the surrogate, intended parents, and the agency that everyone is on the same page. A group meeting guarantees that everyone is mentally prepared to fulfill their responsibilities.
For the exception of the written assessment, parents will have an individual session with a mental health specialist. This is their chance for them to talk about their expectations and feelings. It is also an opportunity for the psychologist to gauge the state of both parents and determine whether they are ready emotionally and have a strong social support system available. We know that raising a child is a gift, but it’s also hard work.
As we mentioned earlier, at some point all parties will meet together. This is perhaps one of the most crucial parts of the psychological evaluation.
It’s the perfect chance to be open and honest with each other. Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and ask questions.
As a surrogate, you are entitled to work with a couple who shares your vision, values, and expectations. Likewise, the intended parents also have a right to work with the right person. Remember, surrogacy agencies are matching services, and it is their responsibility to make sure that the parent/surrogate relationship will work.
Any disagreements or lack of transparency can affect this relationship. So, if you have a concern about something, make sure you talk about it. It’s better to lay everything out on the table from the start rather than wait when it’s too late.
Licensed mental health specialists do psychological screenings for third-party reproduction services. These individuals must have prior experience working with reproductive medicine issues. They must also have a license that pertains to the state in which they are performing their work. So, a screening done in California must be done by a specialist licensed to practice in California.
All mental health specialist must follow best practices as laid out by industry standards, including those by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Professionals who conduct these screenings must have proper training and experience in the field of reproductive medicine.
The takeaway message here is that surrogacy psychological evaluations are a chance for you, and everyone else, to talk openly. It’s not a test with right or wrong answers.
While it sounds as if you are being “evaluated” for your personality and sanity, the truth it’s not a judgment call about who you are as a person or your “qualifications.” It’s not a job interview.
We recommend that surrogate candidates just be themselves and be honest. Not only does it benefit the agency and the parents, but also you as a person.
If you are upfront about your fears, it makes it easier for us to help you with those concerns. It’s perfectly normal to be worried and feel a little nervous. As an agency, our job is to make the experience comfortable and reassure you throughout the journey.
We are here for you!