In addition to an executed legal contract between all parties, extensive infectious disease screening, high tech invasive medical procedures, and an ever shrinking bank account, the gestational surrogacy (and all third party reproductive) process also includes psychological screening. The clinic needs to ensure that all parties involved are psychologically capable of the process. I personally think that psychological screening should be mandatory for a lot of processes.
We joked about being scared that being scared that we may not pass the screening process, but in reality some people actually don’t pass the process. If the psychologist feels that the gestational carrier and/or their spouse do not fully understand, does not respect the wishes of the other parties involved, or are just emotionally incapable of handing the GC process then they will not be cleared. The same is true of the intended parents.
The psychological screening was a three parter. First, we needed to go and take a couple of “tests” to the tune of 90 minutes of filling in little circles with a #2 pencil. Second, Mark and I had an appointment together with the psychologist to discuss the results of our tests and to talk about the process. Third, we would have a meeting together with family member and her husband (after they had also completed parts 1 and 2 for themselves) so that the psychologist could ascertain that we were all indeed on the same page and fit for the process. At that point we would all be “cleared” and the psychologist would send the required paperwork to the clinic.
I don’t know if any of you have ever done a psychological screening before, but I think it is an interesting process. I find it fascinating that it is believed that by answering 650+ questions about yourself (things like “Do you see people that other people don’t see?” and “Do you enjoy working with wood?”) that you can be scored and determined sane or not sane. I also wonder how these tests have been standardized over the years and how they can tell if you are answering honestly.
It turns out that Mark and I scored pretty similarly. We both are somewhat “Fake Good” – which means that we answered in a way that paints us in a more favorable light. We thought that was interesting in that we both “admitted fault” on our tests. I would guess that is fairly common. I think most of us want people to see us in a positive light, and sometimes can have trouble admitting our faults. Apparently we were both within the “normal values” so we did OK on the tests.
We then spent some time just talking about how we were doing. We had actually started this process almost three years ago, so the psychologist was interested in what had changed since we had last saw her. We actually took slightly different tests than the first time. We have gone through a lot in the past 3 years – two false starts with gestational carriers, three IVF cycles – one cancelled, one with “poor embryos”, and one which resulting in a negative beta and one early miscarriage, we went to India and had two transfers with two gestational carriers – both failed. Yes, it has been a long three years.
We talked about our feelings of having Mark’s family member as our gestational carrier. In the end, I think that it is best with a close family member or a complete stranger. Each possibility has its own good and bad points. We are lucky that family member is a really warm, loving, and giving person and I think that she will be a fantastic gestational carrier. I honestly think she’ll be a MUCH better pregnant woman than I would ever be. I know that I would spend the entire pregnancy in a panic – just waiting for the moment that the pregnancy would end – which in my case would most likely not result in a child born late enough to survive. With our GC it will be a happy, normal pregnancy. Our child will come into the world on time, healthy, and without stress or fear.
In the end the session was a good experience for us. We decided that we should continue to see the psychologist throughout our process. It is a not often traveled road that will be full of tough emotions. A little help now and then will only be a good thing.