How Are Surrogates Screened – The Medical, Psychological & Socio-Economic Tests Surrogate Undergo
Qualified surrogates are women who went through a long and thorough screening process. Many apply, only a few make it through and the ones who do, get to change someone’s life forever
The surrogacy process is emotionally and physically challenging for both intended parents and surrogates. That’s why properly screening women who are interested in becoming a surrogate is so important, as it ensures they are ready for the process ahead, armed with a stable home environment and a good support system.
Full VS partial screening
There are agencies that screen each potential surrogate thoroughly before adding them to their pool, so that intended parents can be sure that their match fully qualifies as a surrogate, while others pre-screen the candidates partially (step #1 only) and then more rigorously after they match with intended parents.
Agencies that only partially pre-screen potential surrogates often charge lower agency fees than those that screen candidates thoroughly in advance.
Yet, keep in mind that partial pre-screening is risky, because if it turns out the potential surrogate does not qualify it can not only add more time to the already long process of surrogacy, but also cause disappointment. In such instances, the intended parents will have no choice but to go back to square one and start their search all over again.
“I would recommend that intended parents ask their agency about their screening policy, because it can significantly affect the time it takes to start the journey,” says Parham Zar, founder and managing director of EDSI fertility agency that’s known for its rigorous screening process.
To help you better understand the screening process, what follows is a general outline of the different steps of a proper screening process.
Step #1 - initial screening
The surrogate candidate is first asked to fill-in a simple questionnaire, used to determine she meets the basic surrogacy requirements.
The questionnaire will verify that the surrogate:
- Is an American citizen.
- Is 21-40 years old.
- Is within the healthy weight range (BMI between 19 and 32).
- Has given birth to at least one child with no serious complications.
- Has undergone no more than 2 C-sections.
- Is in good health.
- Is a non-smoker.
- Consumes alcohol in moderation.
- Is not a drug user.
- Doesn’t have a medical history that could affect the pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, diabetes and hepatitis.
In addition, if the surrogate is on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications she will be disqualified, as it is required that all surrogates be off such medication for at least 6 months prior to starting the journey.
Usually, after the candidate fills-in the questionnaire and it is determined she meets all the basic requirements, often the agency or clinic will meet with her, either face to face or online, to make sure all the details she provided check-out.
Step #2 - medical records
At this stage, the agency or clinic will want to ensure that the surrogate candidate can physically become pregnant and sustain the pregnancy.
For that purpose, the candidate’s past and current medical records will be thoroughly evaluated, including pregnancy-related hospital records.
Once the agency or clinic completes their full review, intended parents can ask to be given access to certain details, such as dates of previous deliveries, how many weeks each pregnancy lasted and were there any issues during childbirth.
Step #3 - background checks
The background checks are designed to ensure that the potential surrogate and her spouse or significant other - as well as anyone in their home over the age of 18 - don’t have a criminal record or are involved in any civil disputes, and verify that nothing can interfere with the surrogate’s ability to be an excellent candidate.
For that purpose, the background checks also include:
- A home visit by a social worker to make sure that the potential surrogate has the appropriate physical and emotional support system.
- A financial review of the potential surrogate’s household income and assessment of her economic stability.
Step #4 - psychological screening
Potential surrogate and spouse or significant other will also undergo an in-person psychological evaluation, carried out by an experienced mental health professional, to ensure that the surrogacy process is emotionally and psychologically safe for the surrogate.