Welcome! I’m Meriel, one of the Journey Coordinators at Collective Surrogacy, and I am a three-time past surrogate. In this post, we continue our Surrogacy 101 blog series with this third post about what it looks like to go through the surrogate screening process.
The screening process can feel tedious, but I assure you it is worth the effort and extremely important to ensure your safety and well-being. Each screening step has the surrogate’s best interest in mind, and any great agency will have a thorough screening process.
The first step is filling out the agency's eligibility application. The applications can be lengthy, as there is a lot of information that is required to know whether someone is eligible and learn more about the candidate who is applying. There are the standard questions like age, height, and weight, and it will also inquire about your pregnancy history. Are you in good health to be pregnant again? Do you live in a state that is legally favorable toward surrogacy? What are your views on topics such as managing the shared pregnancy with the intended parents, desired communication throughout the journey, etc?
It can feel time consuming and also thought-provoking. I started to think if I needed a surrogate, what would I want to know about the woman I am trusting with my most precious cargo? The time in the screening process was well spent, as it also prepared me for the journey ahead.
Once cleared through the eligibility process (which takes less than a day after the form is submitted), the true screening process takes place. Many surrogates will tell you that once they started the screening process, there was a feeling of “hurry up and wait”. This was definitely the case for me. I had made the decision and I was ready to move forward, yet there were necessary steps that would take some time and patience, the biggest one being the medical approval process.
A release of health information form will be provided to you for e-signature so the agency may collect your relevant medical records. All previous prenatal and delivery records will be requested from your providers, along with a current physical and pap smear. For me personally, this took some time as I had delivered three children in three different states. In some cases, records are returned to us via fax in a matter of hours or days. Therefore, this can vary depending on the individual circumstances and take anywhere from 1-6 weeks. Along with record collection, we ask that your physician complete a gestational carrier medical clearance form. This is a form that will state that you are healthy to pursue another pregnancy. Depending on the date of your last exam, you may need to schedule an updated appointment for this step.
Throughout these steps, we are in regular communications with you to answer your questions and provide you with updates.
As we wait for your records, we will also have an educational call to talk through all steps of the journey, either be via phone or video chat. This is a meeting where we learn about each other. We learn more about you and your motivations in pursuing surrogacy, and it gives you the opportunity to learn more about us as an agency and the support we offer from start to finish. We can help to clarify any questions that you may have and go into further detail about our process. At this stage we will also review your medical insurance policy to confirm if it covers surrogacy or whether a separate policy will need to be purchased for you by the intended parents (this is the case about 50% of the time).
After all relevant medical records are collected, they are reviewed by our team and one of our fertility clinics. This step takes 1-4 weeks and ensures there are no unreasonable risks to you or baby during a future pregnancy based on your history and current health status. This is important to confirm at this stage before you continue to invest time and energy in future screening steps. It's important to note that if any questions arise about your ability to be medically approved based on your eligibiltiy application, health history form, or medical records, we will share this with you right away.
While you wait for that medical approval, you can work on your profile that will be shared with potential parent matches and complete your file with us. When we receive the medical review approval, we will then move forward with the final steps of screening, which are background checks and psychological evaluation for you and your spouse/partner, if applicable. These final steps can happen pretty quickly (1-3 weeks).
For the psychological evaluation, you (and your spouse/partner, if applicable) will meet via Zoom with our third party psychologist for a 90 minute meeting and written personality inventory. Your mental health is an important component when considering whether or not it is the right time to pursue a surrogacy journey.
When all of these components are complete, you will be cleared to move onto finding your match!
As I previously mentioned, this can feel time consuming and I know I was impatient myself to move forward. However, I understood that all of these steps were put in place to protect me along the way and confirm that I was medically and psychologically prepared to continue this endeavor. Even though I was passionate to realize my dream of becoming a surrogate, I did not want to take any unnecessary risks and only wanted to proceed if it was safe for myself (and therefore my family as well). These vital steps gave me the confidence moving forward and prepared me to meet potential parent matches.
We’d love to share more about Collective Surrogacy and our screening process with you! We are always here to answer any questions you may have.