Since gestational surrogates submit to comprehensive application processes that include mental health evaluations for them and their partners, it’s only natural to wonder about similar acceptance requirements for prospective intended parents. What exactly are these guidelines and how are they determined? Read on to learn more about what may be required of you as an intended parent, and how these items are accomplished.
Here at ConceiveAbilities, we believe that everyone deserves a family - regardless of your marital status, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, political beliefs, occupation, etc. That being said, we do need to know that your fertility clinic has cleared you to move forward with surrogacy. You will meet with your doctor prior to being matched with one of our surrogates so we can feel confident that your clinic will proceed with your match. While not necessarily a requirement, many clinics will want to know that you have a medical reason for pursuing surrogacy, and they will want you to demonstrate overall psychological stability, too.
For the safety of our surrogates and to ensure that you will provide a safe environment for a child, we do run criminal background checks on all interested intended parents. Past convictions may preclude you from proceeding.
While some clinics have age requirements for prospective intended parents, you shouldn’t necessarily assume that this rule applies to you. The upper limits of these requirements are typically quite high, since a.) older parents can still be very good parents, and b.) personal circumstances lead many individuals to pursue surrogacy later in life, rather than during the earlier and more traditional childbearing years.
Ultimately, whether you are approved to move forward with a surrogacy match is typically determined by your fertility clinic.
Although a formal psychological evaluation may or may not be conducted, your clinic will want to see evidence of psychological wellness, indicating that you will be able to handle the challenges of surrogacy.
The majority of clinics have a mental health professional on staff who will discuss the emotional aspects of the surrogacy process with you - how to cope with a loss of control, how to communicate best with your surrogate, how to share your story and your plans with loved ones, how to support each other effectively as a couple, how to develop trust in your surrogate, and more.
The primary goal is to ensure that you are educated and well informed about what to expect. After all, family building with a third party can be challenging, and it does present unique issues and stressors for intended parents.
If your clinic has concerns about how your mental health may impact you or your surrogate during the upcoming process, they may ask you to request a formal clearance letter from a therapist prior to approving you for a surrogacy journey. Or, they may suggest or request that you attend counseling sessions to address mental health issues.
Realize that you are not alone. Though no two intended parents have the exact same history, many enter the world of surrogacy after years and years of infertility struggles, painful losses, and crushing disappointments. Others reach this point due to life-threatening complications during previous pregnancies, or due to life-altering medical diagnoses. These life experiences can and do have a dramatic and lasting impact on individuals, intimate relationships, and family systems.
Consider how your experiences have shaped your current reality and molded your dreams for your future. Be open about what has led you to consider surrogacy, what you think you may need in a prospective surrogate, what concerns you, how you can access the support and coping skills you will need throughout your journey, and what your ultimate family-building goals look like. Bring your questions and your curiosity, too, and understand that it’s okay if you feel anxious or uncertain.
For a quick refresher on important topics that may help you to prepare for your screening, review our article: What to Consider Before Entering into a Surrogacy Arrangement.
Your willingness to be honest and transparent will assist both your clinic and ConceiveAbilities as we engage you in meaningful preparation for your role as intended parents.
When surrogates are being screened, we do ask them to consider with which types of intended parents they might prefer to be matched. Some surrogates prefer to match with international intended parents, for example. Others may prefer to work with a married couple, or with an intended parent who does not yet have children from a previous pregnancy or surrogacy. We ask surrogates to share their preferences so we can be more effective in ensuring an ideal match. After all, we know from experience that “matching matters!”
It’s notable that many of our surrogates don’t actually have many requests or “requirements” for intended parents. When we screen our surrogates, it’s not uncommon to hear them say that they will work with anyone, because they just want to help someone to have a child.
Surrogacy is beautiful, and it is a gift. However, it is also a long, complex, intimate, and emotional process for everyone involved. The more that surrogates and intended parents are thoroughly prepared and screened in advance, the greater the likelihood of a positive, successful arrangement and outcome for all. Do you have more questions about these early steps of becoming an intended parent? Contact us. We would be thrilled to talk you through the process and answer any questions that you may have as you start your surrogacy journey.
Written By Lori Jurecko MA, LSW,
ConceiveAbilities Match Manager
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.