Screening of the surrogate and counseling for the parties – the mental health component of a surrogacy arrangement – is critical to a successful surrogacy.
The surrogate will meet with a mental health professional who does the following:
- Provides information about the process.
- Raises and discusses psychological issues related to surrogacy.
- Reviews the surrogate’s mental health history.
- Ensures that the surrogate has a solid understanding of the psychological risks, has had all of her questions fully answered, and is emotionally prepared and able to be a surrogate.
The surrogate may also be asked to complete a written assessment. The counselor will write a report for the fertility center that either recommends the surrogate as a participant or may recommend that the surrogate not participate.
The intended parent or parents will also meet with the mental health counselor to discuss the surrogacy arrangement. Usually, there is an additional clinical interview in which the intended parent(s) and the surrogate, along with any spouse or partner, have a joint discussion. This neutral conversation, guided by the counselor, provides a good opportunity to discuss situations that might occur during a pregnancy and decide how everyone will handle them.
Counseling should be available throughout the entire arrangement. Ongoing mental health counseling provides support and may facilitate a healthy relationship among the parties. The fertility center, the matching program, or your attorney can recommend a qualified counselor.
When going through a surrogacy journey, it is also imperative to have criminal background checks done during the screening process on all adults participating in the arrangements, and possibly also those living in the home. This includes the intended parent(s) and the gestational surrogate (and spouse or significant others living in the home). From a surrogate’s perspective, having these checks done during the mental health counseling can help to assure her that the family with whom she is working is fit and has no criminal background. From the intended parents’ perspective, it can provide some peace of mind that there is no history of criminal activity in the home. Of course, for all parties, it is important to gauge the nature of the activity when something comes up in a background check. A minor non-violent offense 20 years ago may not be given the same weight as an incident that is more recent.