how we ensure that your surrogate mother is mentally healthy as well

What do you expect from a woman who is planned to become a surrogate mother for your child? Of course, she mustn’t consume alcohol or other toxic substances, including heavy medications and no way she can be a smoker. Those values can be easily tracked down, while there are certainly equally important criteria that needed to be taken into consideration. In this article we’re going to unveil you the process of what we do to ensure that your surrogate mother is psychologically ready for the surrogacy process and has appropriate reasons to participate in it.

In our opinion, psychological assessment in surrogacy is a key factor for successful completion of the program — as not every woman is capable to become a surrogate mother. Even if a candidate to become a gestational carrier is absolutely healthy from the gynecological perspective but has a very distant understanding of what surrogacy means for her and unclear vision of her reasons to participate in such program, we prefer not to risk. From our experience, the perfect candidate to become a surrogate mother is capable to understand the situation the Intended Parents have found themselves in but at the same time she can absolutely feel her own emotions, know her reasons and have a clear acceptation of her role in this program. We deeply believe that surrogate pregnancy requires maintenance of the constant balance between devotion and rational thinking. Let me show you the example:

the Intended Parents are vegetarians and when they meet their surrogate mother (who is not a vegetarian) they ask her to adhere to their principles and keep the diet during her pregnancy. The surrogate mother agrees, as she wants to keep the Intended Parents happy and besides she has extremely weak or no understanding how abrupt change of the diet can influence the baby and the pregnancy itself. The baby is growing, and it actually does not care where from the surrogate mother takes all the necessary macro- and micronutrients — developing fetus will take everything needed from her, even if it means her bones, skin and muscles. Times goes by and oops! on her next visit to the doctor it turns out that the surrogate mother’s blood work shows strange results aside from her poor look and enormously high stress level. During conversation it appeared that she just wanted to show her devotion to the baby’s family and their lifestyle, but she completely forgot that she and her body also had growing needs and changing her diet during pregnancy was not one of them (we do not talk here about the cases when change of a diet is prescribed by the doctor to achieve certain medical purpose). Lack of rational thinking and too much conformity in this case would bring a surrogate mother to a long-term hospitalization and a baby to a NICU unless the intrusion of a pregnancy monitoring specialist.

Can such act of a surrogate mother be qualified as malicious intent — I don’t think so, can such carelessness become a cause of disaster — absolutely. We will dig deeper into every aspect we test our surrogate mothers for further in this article.

In our Repromedicine SEDA practice we utilize the following tools and methods:

1. Introduction to the program

One can’t expect predictable behavior from a surrogate mother if there are gaps in her knowledge of the process or she is unaware of the values we embrace and the purpose of the program. Of course, a potential surrogate mother is always duly advised by one of our recruiters, but that information is more about the mechanics of the process: what are the stages of a surrogacy program?, what are the requirements towards a gestational carrier?, how many visits will a surrogate mother need to make to a healthcare center?, what is her compensation?, what expenses may she incur?, etc. It is not the recruiter’s part to explain the emotional peculiarities of a surrogacy program and human contribution that will be required along the line — this is the field of responsibility of our psychologist. In this context the informed consent of a surrogate mother is not just a formality required by the law, but also a huge investment into future course of a surrogacy program.

2. Beck Depression Inventory

This inventory allows us to assess whether a future surrogate mother suffers from depression. According to American Pregnancy Association

depression that is not treated can have potential dangerous risks to the mother and baby. Untreated depression can lead to poor nutrition, drinking, smoking, and suicidal behavior, which can then cause premature birth, low birth weight, and developmental problems. A woman who is depressed often does not have the strength or desire to adequately care for herself or her developing baby.

Taking into account that pregnancy itself can be a cause of depression, we would really like to eliminate such risk on preparatory stage.

3. Interview

What information is important to define on this stage and why this interview takes place at all – aren’t two inventories results enough?

This is a moment when our psychologist as part of the conversation is retrieving the reasons to become a surrogate mother, woman’s attitude towards children, general family climate – to understand daily emotional state of a surrogate mother, her ongoing work and social duties and the attitude of a surrogate mother candidate towards those duties. Another very important matter to clarify — has the decision to become a surrogate mother been made out of good will? — there are a lot of factors that can make a woman want to become a surrogate mother, but not all of those reasons are good for us. There are cases, when we would not take a woman as our surrogate mother even if she is in perfect health, and in some cases, we would even report the situation to the relevant public authorities:

  • If a woman is forced to become a surrogate mother by her husband or by other family member
  • If a woman has to apply for surrogacy program because of extreme poverty
  • If a woman has to apply for surrogacy program under pressure of her debts
  • If a woman had recently lost a family member and has not recovered after her loss yet
  • If a woman had her own baby miscarried not long time ago and she hasn’t overcome her loss
  • If a woman has a family member or a close friend terminally ill at the moment
  • If a woman is currently in litigation regarding the custody on her own children
  • If a woman doesn’t have permanent residency

Personal meeting is very important, as both: verbal and nonverbal communication are taken into consideration — experienced counsellor can take the best advantage out of 20-30 minutes interview and sometimes they put up a red flag and require additional attention to the aspects that could be found out only in the course of face-to-face conversation with a surrogate mother.

4. Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)

We find the 16PF by R. B. Cattell quite helpful for psychological diagnostics of a woman who wants to become a surrogate mother. It is widely used in business for job candidates evaluation, but in our case not all of the measured criteria are relevant. Let’s say if interpersonal needs, frustration tolerance, emotional stability, agreeableness and possibility of behavioral problems are quite crucial values to be defined before we let the surrogate mother participate in the program, — at the same time there is no requirement for her intelligence level to hit 10 out of 10 for that, of course it shouldn’t be 2 as well. We doubt that such traits of personality as reticence or dreaminess can have same huge impact on the progress of your surrogacy program as emotional self-control or trustfulness. Yes, it will be harder to get some information from a surrogate mother that is not very good with words, but if coincidently she has low anxiety level — there are high chances that she will not be spending hours standing with her neighbors and emotionally discussing how bad political situation in the country is.

Generally, this is the way how we carry our psychological diagnosis in Repromedicine Surrogacy & Egg Donation Agency. It’s important to stress that general summary of that process you will be able to find in the profile of your surrogate mother, but tests and interview results are covered by confidentiality provision.