Screening involves several steps: medical clearance from the intended parents’ fertility clinic, perhaps a check-in with your OB, and something that might be new for you: a psychological assessment. The prospect can be a little intimidating, but the reality wasn’t, and of course it helps to understand that this is done to provide the best outcome for everyone: a healthy and happy surrogate, baby, and intended parents.
When it came time for my psych screening, my lawyer recommended someone she had worked with in adoption cases. Once I’d made an appointment, the licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) sent me some paperwork that included a depression inventory, the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and a personality diagnostic questionnaire. These can seem overwhelming at first, but the important thing to keep in mind is to answer honestly rather than with the answers you think are “right.” Depending on who you use for your screening, the paperwork and specific assessments may vary. There will likely be less paperwork involved if you are using New York Surrogacy Center because the agency will send all of your intake paperwork to the counselor in advance to save you some time. If you have dealt with anxiety, that’s not an automatic disqualification. If you have experienced trauma or tragedy, that’s also not an automatic disqualification. This was the case with me, in fact.
I then had a one-on-one session with the LMHC in which I basically told my life story. The LMHC directed me towards the topics of family, motherhood, my childhood, education, and my relationship with my intended parents. It was very thorough, lasting about two hours. If you like talking about yourself, even better!
The last part of the assessment was a home visit by the LMHC. This was an opportunity for her to meet my husband and daughter (who was two at the time) to get their thoughts on my potential surrogacy. This may or may not happen with New York Surrogacy Center; it can be done virtually. However, it is important for the mental health professional to see that you have the support you need from your partner, if applicable, and from your child(ren).
While the psychological assessment is likely the most time-consuming part of the screening process, it’s a vital one. For me personally, it assured me that I was making the right decision in deciding to carry for my cousin and her husband.