There are a lot of steps to the surrogacy process – remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. However, all these steps are put in place for a very important reason: to protect everyone’s health and make sure that each party is fully committed, able to consent, and prepared for the journey ahead.
One of the methods that surrogacy agencies use to screen potential surrogates and hopeful intended parents is via a psychological evaluation – also known as a psych evaluation or psych eval. For many hopeful surrogates or intended parents, the surrogacy psych evaluation is the most intimidating part of the surrogacy process.
Don’t panic! This is not a test and it’s not a judgment on you or who you are. The psych evaluation is simply put into place to make sure that you’re 100% ready. In this post, we’ll go over why the psych evaluation is so important, what to expect, and what happens if you “fail” the psych evaluation.
Why Is The Surrogacy Psych Evaluation Important?
Surrogacy – including both gestational and traditional surrogacy – can be demanding for the hopeful surrogates or the intended parents. That’s why it’s imperative that each party be 100% prepared for the demands ahead – this will ensure that the surrogate’s pregnancy is successful and that everyone, including the baby, stays healthy.
Most surrogacy agencies need some level of proof or reassurance that all parties involved in the surrogacy process – including both hopeful surrogates and intended parents – are of sound mind to participate. In other words, they need to know that everyone can consent to being a part of the process.
This means that each party must be mentally capable to make such a huge decision since it’s such a life-changing event. For instance, the agency must be certain that no one is being pressured and/or coerced into the process, for obvious legal reasons. Plus, they need to ensure that all parties are prepared for the responsibilities, pressures, and challenges that may lie ahead.
This is where the surrogacy psych evaluation comes in! This is the process that determines and certifies that the hopeful surrogates and intended parents are ready to go through with the surrogacy.
In that sense, the surrogacy psych evaluation is an assessment of your mental state; how do you feel about becoming a surrogate or intended parent? This is emphatically not a judgment or test, it’s simply a way to make sure that everyone is prepared. Plus, it can also help hopeful surrogates or intended parents get even more prepared for the process.
What Should I Expect From My Surrogacy Psych Evaluation?
There are two basic parts to the psych evaluation: the clinical interview and a personality test. The interview is always part of the process, whereas the personality test will depend on the surrogacy agency and interviewer you work with.
The clinical interview is just a conversation with a qualified and certified mental health professional, usually from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The interviewer will simply want to get to know you and determine if you’re ready to go through with the surrogacy process.
Additionally, you may be asked to take a personality test, usually either the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). These consist of a series of statements that you then have to answer with true or false as they apply to you. These are meant to determine your emotional state and there are no right or wrong answers.
The surrogacy psych evaluation is not a test and it’s not meant to be a judgment. You’ll have to talk with an interviewer and answer some questions – it’s all pretty easy. Just remember: don’t panic because there are no right or wrong answers! Answer as best as you can based on how you feel.
Useful Tips For Your Surrogacy Psych Evaluation
If you’re a hopeful surrogate or intended parent, here are some tips to help you through the surrogacy psych evaluation:
- Stay honest and transparent. This might seem obvious, but you have to be honest with your interviewer!
- Just be yourself. This is always good advice, but make sure you stay natural during the surrogacy psych evaluation.
- Don’t panic. While it may be easier said than done, make sure you don’t panic – the interviewer is there to help you.
- Let your personality shine through. Chances are, if you’re trying to take the surrogacy journey, then you probably feel very strongly about your decision.
- Remember that it’s not a test. This is crucial! There are no wrong answers, just stay true to yourself and your experiences.
It’s all pretty intuitive. This is not like a job interview; the interviewer is not trying to determine if you’re fit to be a parent. Instead, the surrogacy psych evaluation is used to educate all parties – both surrogates and intended parents – about what to expect during the surrogacy process. They’re here to help; they want you to become part of the process!
In fact, you should use the psych evaluation as an opportunity to learn more about surrogacy and what to expect. It’s meant to make you stronger and not put you down or damage your self-confidence.
What Are Some Common Questions In The Psych Evaluation?
There are certain questions that usually pop up in most surrogacy psych evaluations. However, the exact questions will ultimately depend on the mental health professional who’s interviewing you.
That being said, let’s take a look at some of the most common that come up in the interviews.
For Intended Parents
- Why did you choose surrogacy to build your family?
- How has infertility affected your marriage/relationship (if applicable)?
- How do you feel about the upcoming surrogacy process? Nervous? Excited?
- Have you told anyone of your plans to work with a surrogate? What were their reactions?
- Do you need help to explain the surrogacy process to friends or family?
- What type of contact do you want to have with your surrogate during the pregnancy? What about after the birth?
- Will you request that the surrogate undergoes amniocentesis?
- What do you plan to tell the child?
- Why do you want to be a surrogate?
- How do you feel about being a surrogate? Excited? Nervous?
- Do you have a spouse or partner? If so, how do they feel about the surrogacy?
- What does your support system look like? Have you told them about your decision? How did they react?
- How do you know you won’t want to keep the baby once it’s born?
- How do you manage stress? What do you do to relax?
- Will you want to have contact with the intended parents during the pregnancy? What about after the birth?
- Do you have plans for what you’ll do with the compensation you receive?
It’s crucial to remember that the exact interview questions will depend heavily on the interviewer – these are only meant to be a general guide on what you can expect.
Plus, if you look closely at these questions, none of them have “right/wrong” answers. They’re mostly about your personal experiences and state of mind. That’s because the interviewer is trying to understand what you feel and think about the surrogacy process.
What Happens If I Fail My Surrogacy Psych Evaluation?
If you “fail” your surrogacy psych evaluation, then you’ll no longer qualify to move forward in the surrogacy process. This is true with pretty much every surrogacy agency you decide to work with, although some may allow you to try the process again at a later date or even ask for a second opinion.
That being said, it’s important to point out that most applicants don’t “fail” their surrogacy psych evaluation. As a matter of fact, it’s exceedingly rare. That’s probably because if you’ve made it that far in the surrogacy process, then you’re emotionally ready to take on the responsibilities as either a hopeful surrogate or intended parent.
It’s important that you don’t take this as a personal judgment on you or who you are. Remember, this is not a test to determine if you’re fit for parenthood. In all likelihood, if you “fail” your psych evaluation, then it probably means that you’re just not ready to take on all the responsibilities and pressures of surrogacy.
Finally, if you “fail” your psych evaluation, then you can always try independent surrogacy. This means that you work without a surrogacy agency, although there are serious challenges and drawbacks to this method.
What Are The Other Requirements For Becoming A Surrogate?
The surrogacy psych evaluation is just one of the requirements for becoming a surrogate. Some of the other surrogate requirements include:
- Being between 21 and 37 years old.
- Having undergone at least one (1) successful pregnancy with no serious complications.
- Not having had more than five (5) previous deliveries or three (3) previous C-sections.
- Having had all births occurring after 36 weeks (unless it was multiple pregnancies).
- Being in overall good health with a healthy body mass index (BMI), usually 19 to 33.
- Having a healthy heart, kidneys, and blood pressure.
- Having no new piercings or tattoos one (1) year before the pregnancy.
- Not being a smoker or exposed to second-hand smoke.
- Having no history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Not being at high risk for HIV or STIs that can be passed on to the baby.
Plus, you should always be in general good psychological and emotional health.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Are The Disqualifications For Surrogacy?
Choose Surrogacy By Faith As Your Agency
Like most agencies, Surrogacy By Faith requires that hopeful surrogates and intended parents undergo a psych evaluation. If either party “fails” the psych evaluation, then they won’t be eligible to continue in the process.
Surrogacy By Faith is based in Southern California, although we work with surrogates and intended parents from all over the country. We work extra hard to match intended parents with the perfect surrogate, and the surrogacy psych evaluation is an integral part of this process. That being said, we make sure that the process is customized to each party’s needs and avoid having an impersonal, disconnected selection process.
If you’re interested, then make sure you contact us today! Hopeful surrogates should fill out our Surrogate Initial Inquiry form and intended parent should fill out our Intended Parents Initial Inquiry form. Get started right away!