About a week after our official match, our assigned LCSW reached out to both myself and the IFs to introduce themselves and offer to either discuss the process or send over the initial screening packet with the understanding that we could reach out with any questions. We all opted for the latter. The packet contained Demographics Form, Criminal Affidavits for each adult in my household, Financial Resource Summary, Beck’s Depression Inventory, Hamilton Anxiety Scale, PDQ-4+ Personality Questionnaire, Personal History Questionnaire, and a couple of signed releases for the LCSW to discuss findings with NYSC, my IFs, and a third party company called Creative Organizational Design. They also requested Proof of Employment/Income, a Copy of Most Recent Medical records, Copy of Birth Certificate, and Copy of Marriage Certificate (if applicable).
I did notice that the LCSW was requesting a lot of data I had compiled just months earlier to apply to work with NYSC, so I reached out to Joe so he could hopefully save me some double work. NYSC was able to send my paystub, credit report, criminal history report, and OB Records so that was nice!
The first things I got started on were the scales and questionnaires. I answered 21 multiple-choice questions to assess for depression, 14 multiple-choice questions to assess anxiety, and a slew of open-ended questions about who I am, where I came from, and where I plan to be. A few weeks later, I received (digitally) the link from Creative Organizational Design to complete the Advanced Multidimensional Personality Matrix, which is 175 multiple-choice questions and is a measure of “The Big Five” personality factors: Emotional Stability, Extroversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. The matrix also has built-in detectors for Impression Management (meaning it assesses to what degree the results on the test are distorted or manipulated by the test-taker to present themselves in a better light) and Acquiescence (meaning it assesses whether a test-taker was simply agreeing with the test’s statements and not paying close attention). Once my materials were all submitted, the LCSW reached out to schedule our phone assessment!
During my phone interview, we reviewed and discussed my understanding and feelings about the process and issues involved in being a gestational carrier. We talked about my upbringing, my family (both the one I came from and the one I’ve created), my experience with therapy, my education, relationships, medical history, social life, and spiritual beliefs. When I was done, they took the opportunity to do Jon’s phone interview as well. They asked him a lot of the same questions, and then went into his feelings on the surrogacy process and how equipped he felt to be supportive in various situations that can arise. Before hanging up, I asked them about my AMPM results, fascinated by how in-depth the analysis was. I requested a copy so I could read more and they told me that no one has ever asked them that before. Welp, there’s a first time for everything, huh? They happily emailed them over and I took great pleasure in reading a 19-page analysis of who I am as a person. If you get a chance to do one and read your results, I highly recommend it!
Our next step was a Zoom interview with myself, Jon, Matt, and Kyle, during which we discussed our relationship, the surrogacy process, and expectations moving forward. Our LCSW also offered all of us ongoing support and counseling to assist with the emotional and psychological components that will occur throughout the surrogacy process, which I was very grateful for!
After our joint interview, they told us our report would be ready in two weeks. The report, which wholeheartedly cleared us, was a snapshot of our demographics when our interviews were, and everything we had discussed. At the end was a summary of why they were confident that we were fully prepared and equipped to move forward with my decision, and that Jon and I had given considerable thought to the process. All the months of research and thorough consideration had paid off! Anyway–
December 20th – Initial Contact from LCSW
December 22nd – Received Packet
January 10th – Completed Packet
January 12th – Received and Completed AMPM Assessment
January 22nd – Phone Interview w/ LCSW (Jon and Me)
February 4th – Joint Zoom Interview w/ LCSW (All 4 of Us)
February 21st – Official Psychological Clearance
Looking back, psychological screening was one of the quickest and simplest parts of our process. I might even go so far as to say it was pretty fun! I walked away feeling like I know more about myself and how my brain works, which is never a bad thing. It was also reassuring to move forward with confidence that surrogacy is the right journey for me for lots of different reasons. Stay tuned for my blog entry on medical clearance :)