The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy

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Screening Surrogates

by: Steven C. Litz, Attorney at Law
Director, Surrogate Mothers Inc.


No surrogate should be allowed to participate in a program without thorough psychological screening. While some programs are notorious for their lack of screening, they are also the ones who have had disasters occur. When surrogacy is conducted responsibly, it is universally successful. Of the thousands of children born to surrogates, there has yet to be a single case where a surrogate who was adequately screened prior to conception changed her mind and tried to keep the child. In the Baby M case, for example, Mary Beth Whitehead was screened by two different psychologists, both of whom expressed concern over her ability to relinquish the child. Unfortunately, the couple working with her was never made aware of the extent of the psychological findings.

In fact, prior to any screening at all, most programs generally require that their surrogates be between 18 and 35 (for medical reasons), and that they have previously had a child (for medical and psychological reasons). Surrogates, and their husbands, or significant others, should be evaluated by a licensed psychologist for their stability, maturity, ability to honor their commitments, family life, support systems, etc. Different programs use different testing methods, but those programs that have been successful over the years and not had surrogates who changed their minds consistently subjected their surrogates to a variety of personality tests (the MMPI, for example), IQ test, and marital satisfaction tests. You should always be given a copy of the psychologist's actual report, not just a summary. You should also be given a copy of your surrogate's application. Any program which does not reveal this information should be viewed with skepticism as they are not doing what is in your (and your surrogate's) best interest.

Some programs require ongoing counseling throughout the pregnancy. Others do not, believing that the surrogate is capable of managing her own feelings and that she is intelligent enough to know if she could benefit from formal counseling. Most programs encourage couples to have direct contact with their surrogates before and during the pregnancy, and somewhat less contact afterwards. A surrogate should be conditioned to understand that all of the couple's attention will focus on her during the pregnancy, but after the child is born a rather dramatic shift will occur as the couple, quite understandably, will be dealing with their new child. Oftentimes, after the "novelty" of a newborn wears off, couples reinitiate contact with their surrogate. Many couples send their surrogates pictures, birthday and Christmas cards, small gifts, and the like. Typically these items would be sent directly to the surrogate, although some couples prefer to use their program as an intermediary.


2007 OPTS - The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy