In my last blog, I talked about the three main professionals you need to work closely with during a gestational surrogacy arrangement: the medical team, the attorney, and the counselor. Since I am an infertility counselor who has done psychological screening of surrogates and intended parents for over two decades, I want to walk you through this process and what you can expect. If the surrogate, the surrogate’s partner, or the intended parents change their minds about proceeding with this arrangement, it usually occurs in my office. Although it is very disappointing if this happens, you want it to happen now, not after the surrogate is pregnant.
I do not recommend anyone be a surrogate who has not experienced pregnancy and delivery, because without this previous experience, she really does not understand the enormity of what she is consenting to embark upon. The counselor should first meet with the surrogate and her partner (if applicable) for about 90 minutes to gather information about their personal history, marital history, family history, and psychosocial history.Then they spend time discussing the important issues involved in carrying a baby for another couple. Once these discussions are completed, the surrogate takes a personality inventory or another recommended psychological test.
The intended parents should also meet with the counselor for about 90 minutes to gather information and discuss similar issues which were discussed with the surrogate. The next step is, in my opinion, one of the most important parts of the psychological screening. The two couples meet with the counselor in the same room together. This should always be done face-to-face rather than by telephone or skype. There should be open discussion about issues that have been discussed in the separate counseling sessions. The “worst case scenarios” and the “what if’s” should be explored to ensure everyone is on the same page if difficult situations arise during the pregnancy, labor, or delivery. We discuss how often they plan to be in contact before, during,and after pregnancy. We talk about the importance of open, honest communication throughout this relationship. These couples will be intimately connected for at least a year of their lives, and possibly for the rest of their lives.
I cannot think of a greater gift to give anyone than carrying a baby for a couple who is unable to carry a pregnancy to term. This is such a selfless act, and it also has potential risks and consequences. I have to say I get teary eyed as I sit with couples who express their gratitude and appreciation for one another in agreeing to proceed with their surrogacy plans. The love and caring is deep and profound, and I am privileged to be a part of this special time in the lives of others.