Why do surrogates have a psychological evaluation?

At Brilliant Beginnings we place great value on ethical practices and safeguarding everyone involved in a surrogacy journey. At the centre of any journey is a surrogate who is in the unique position of experiencing the ups and downs of fertility treatment, pregnancy and the associated risks. 

Surrogates are also developing and navigating a relationship with their intended parents through each different stage of the journey, including the ultimate goal of seeing a new family created. A surrogate will experience a number of different emotions, ones that are both filled with positivity and joy, but also ones where her physical, mental and emotional capabilities may be tested. 

Our screening and preparation process is there to help a surrogate to think about this with support from us and other experienced professionals. The psychological evaluation is a hugely important part of this, and complements and enhances our process to ensure that surrogates are fully prepared and ready for what lies ahead. 

What is a psychological evaluation? 

The health of surrogates is of paramount importance during any journey. A psychological evaluation is undertaken with an independent clinical psychologist to check that surrogacy is safe, emotionally and psychologically, for surrogates. Psychological evaluations for BB surrogates are carried out by Jerome Tierney, a clinical psychologist and father of two through surrogacy. 

He spoke to us recently about the work he carries out to assess and evaluate new surrogates that come through the Brilliant Beginnings screening process. He said: “The assessment consists of an interview, during which we discuss the current life circumstances of surrogates as well as their past, so as to get a sense of who they are and the life experiences that have shaped them. We also explore their hopes regarding surrogacy”.

Jerome explained that by looking at earlier losses, traumas or painful events, we can better consider stressors and those things which might “trigger” difficulties for the surrogate. In addition to the interview, the evaluation also includes questionnaires and a personality assessment all coordinated by Jerome.

What are the benefits of the psychological evaluation?

Once completed, the separate parts of the evaluation Jerome conducts are used to create a more holistic picture of a surrogate. Jerome adds that this process is collaborative with the surrogate, and that “the results of the personality test are discussed with the surrogate so that we decide together which results are accurate. The assessment with surrogates is about coming to an agreed and shared understanding of their life story, rather than being about sticking a psychological label on them”. 

The goal of the assessment is to make the surrogacy journey manageable for all involved and protect the relationships between surrogates and intended parents. Which is ultimately of great benefit to any child conceived through surrogacy.

When considering why a psychological assessment and evaluation is important in ethical surrogacy, Jerome explains that “The psychological assessment (along with implications counselling)….ensure that surrogates embarking on a surrogacy journey understand the potential emotional and practical consequences of such an endeavour, which means they are then able to provide informed consent”

Being a surrogate involves stressful situations. For this reason psychological testing is important in understanding how a woman thinking of becoming a surrogate will resolve issues, which is key to protecting her and all the parties involved. An understanding of how the surrogate communicates and their personality traits is also useful for matching with intended parents. Because we match one to one at Brilliant Beginnings, this is invaluable to helping us get this right, first time.

Alongside the other elements of our process and getting to know the surrogate and her family, psychological evaluations help the Brilliant Beginnings team tailor our support to a particular surrogate. This has meant that we can be mindful of any ‘triggers’ that Jerome has identified, and also respond to any issues that arise and provide or signpost to the best support we can before a small problem grows into something bigger. 

What our Brilliant surrogates have said about the psychological evaluation

It is important for us to know that surrogates see the value and benefits of the evaluation in the same way we do. With this in mind we asked our Brilliant surrogates for their feedback. We were pleased to get some lovely positive comments, and one surrogate summed it up beautifully. 

‘I was very sceptical about the psychological evaluation as I didn’t think one meeting and one person would be enough to get all what was needed from me. I was scared that it wouldn’t be enough to show my true character or I wouldn’t be able to open up enough. 

It is a very long process and takes a few hours alone just to fill out the questionnaire but Jerome is there to guide you through and answer any questions you might have. He automatically makes you feel at ease. 

I find it difficult to open up to people I don’t know or have met for the first time. Jerome is encouraging, empathetic and patient. I spent 4h at the office and at the end of it felt like I could speak to Jerome for another 4h. 

Jerome is very thorough and is good at ‘reading’ people. I believe the report he built about me was ‘spot on’. I have taken on board Jerome’s suggestions and concerns and I have made sure they are covered going forward with my journey. 

I learnt my strengths and weaknesses. I am glad I had the assessment with Jerome as I learnt so much about myself. 

Jerome is everything, and more, you hope a psychologist would be like.’

You can learn more about how this forms part of surrogacy from the surrogate’s perspective and see if being a surrogate is right for you by checking out our surrogates page, or by getting in touch with one of our surrogate managers.


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