The surrogacy screening process is a lengthy and involved one that often takes several weeks to complete. It can seem, at times, completely overwhelming. It’s not abnormal to feel intimated and frustrated by the process. It’s also completely normal to feel excited by the process. Here’s a look at what to expect.
Most surrogate screenings are done by agencies. Of course, if you’ve chosen to go independent, your screening will be much different, and often completed by the intended parents or a few outside professionals. If you do go independent, be weary of parents who don’t seem interested in thoroughly screening you. Screening procedures are in place to protect both you and in the parents’ best interests as you move through this process, and should be taken seriously.
The Initial Screening
The first screenings you’re likely to experience are basic parameters. The agencies or intended parents will start by looking at you on a very surface level to see if you’re a good candidate for surrogacy. Do you live in a surrogacy friendly state, is your BMI healthy, do you already have children that you’re currently raising, do you smoke or drink alcohol? These are just a few of the very basic questions that will make up phase one of your screening. You’ll also be asked about your previous pregnancy and childbirth experience as well as your motives for choosing to become a surrogate in the first place.
If everything looks good and you remain a qualified candidate, most surrogates will move on to a medical screening.
The medical screening is done by a doctor, in their office, and can be made of up of many factors. Some agencies and parents will have you complete some blood work at a local lab prior to meeting with a doctor, but some won’t. If you’re asked to complete these labs, often looking at your blood sugar and thyroid levels, don’t panic. It’s completely normal. Typically, in order to continue to move forward, you’ll need to pass these screenings before meeting with a doctor.
When you’re ready to meet with a doctor, it probably won’t be a standard OBGYN. Since you’ll be using IVF to get pregnant, chances are good that you’ll be meeting with an IVF specialist, often called a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE for short) for this part of your screening. You’ll likely have more blood drawn, this time to check for drugs, alcohol, and potentially for STDs. Most doctors will also have you complete a pelvic exam. Relax, it’s not as scary as it sounds! This is just an in office, transvaginal ultrasound, completed with a wand instead of a stomach top sensor. This may be new to you, but it shouldn’t be uncomfortable. The scan is meant to check the positioning of your uterus, ovaries, and to rule out any potential fibroids, adhesions, or other intrauterine irregularities that could make it difficult to get pregnant with IVF.
The last step of your screening typically entrails meeting with a mental health professional. For your own safety, make sure that this is a person with experience in surrogacy or reproductive matters. Most agencies will have that covered, but if you’re not working with an agency, it is important to work with a psychologist who understands the emotional impact of surrogacy.
This screening step, sometimes completed in conjunction with a computer generated personality test, can feel nerve-wracking. It’s the ultimate first date, isn’t it? Just know that, so long as you answer honestly, there is no wrong answer. Even if your honest answer doesn’t seem like what the examiner would want to hear, you should absolutely be honest in your replies. This step of the process is meant to make sure that you have a personality and emotional maturity to fully understand what will be asked of you as a surrogate, and it’s not a bad thing to learn that maybe you don’t! It’s far better to learn at the onset that this process could impact you negatively, than to have a poor experience over the course of a yearlong surrogacy journey.
That’s it- you’re done! Once you’ve been cleared by a mental health expert, a medical expert, and a basic admissions screening. The entire process tends to move at a speed that is set by you. If you make your appointments quickly and have an open availability, the entire thing can be completed in about 4-6 weeks. However, the process can take much, much longer if you have reduced availability or are not quick to schedule and keep your appointments.