Along For The Ride: A Real Time Surrogacy Experience

Me with the LA staff during my screening process.


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Application & Screening 

Modern technology is a great thing, is it not? I remember in my first experience with surrogacy that the paperwork phase made me feel a little buried. There was just so.much.paper. From insurance verification, to OB records, consent forms… oh man, it was a little overwhelming. But here we are, just a few short years later, and most of these forms no longer require a print out, sign, and fax back. Now, most of it can be done through this nifty online tool. It certainly takes some of the stress out.

Make no mistake though, there are still a lot of forms to read. I’m glad for that, though. Surrogacy is no small thing. It’s not like adopting a goldfish (I hereby promise to feed Goldie at least twice per day and change the water at least once per month), it’s a major commitment. It should require a little stack of forms. I’d be scared if it didn’t.

Once the forms are returned and accepted we have a phone consultation and schedule some local labs. Basically checking my thyroid, glucose and vitamin D levels. Living in Seattle, it was no surprise to me that my Vitamin D (which most of us get through sun exposure) came back a little low. I tried to use that to talk the husband into a beach vacation (you know, for medical reasons) but wound up just getting a bottle of over the counter vitamins instead. Foiled again!

After that it was off to California for an in person medical and psychological screening. One of the things I love most about Growing Generations is that they don’t cut corners. They incur the expense to send surrogates and our partners to CA to meet with the doctors and staff in person. It gives them a better idea of who we are, and also creates some familiarity between the us and the staff we will be working with.

So first we head over to the GG offices to talk about why I want to be a surrogate. I also take a 600 question computer test. Those things always make me so nervous. They ask questions like, “True or False, I think I would enjoy being a race car driver” What if I answer incorrectly? What if I DO want to be a race car driver? Is that OK?? Luckily, I passed the test and was sent on over to the RE (reproductive endocrinologist)’s office.

The doctor’s visit is a battery of tests. Blood and urine samples to ensure we are disease, nicotine, and drug free. Chris, my husband, had to do these as well. Then there is the pelvic exam. I have always been told that I have a beautiful uterus. Prior to surrogacy though, I was also told that I have a severely tilted uterus. I’m always nervous (again) that I’ll be ruled out as a surrogate because of that. But, that’s never been my reality.

We left the doctor’s appointment and flew home. Somewhere in the next two weeks the medical tests all came back looking A-OK and medical clearance was issued. I was approved as a Growing Generations’ surrogate and ready to be matched with new intended parents.

Clearly, this phase of the journey was kind of nerve wracking, at least for me. I think that’s normal. It kind of feels like one big interview, especially when you know that only 1% of applicants make it through to become the cream of the crop: a Growing Generations’ Surrogate. But, as I said, I love that the application and screening process is so thorough. It’s probably why, in more than 20 years, Growing Generations has not had any surrogates change their mind at the end, or make the news in a negative way. When you take your time on the front end, it makes the journey less stressful for everyone.  

Resources:

The Surrogate Screening Process- What We Look for in YOUR Surrogate

What to Expect During Your Screening Process: Part 1

What To Expect During Your Screening process. Part 2

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.