What to Expect in the Psychological Evaluation for Family Planning

by Amy Vigliotti, Ph.D

Intended parents of third-party reproduction.

Originally published on Psychology Today

The anticipation of becoming a parent is a spectrum of emotions including excitement, hesitation, and even vulnerability. If you’ve arrived at family planning with the plan of third-party reproduction efforts, your journey has likely meant confusion, loss, cyclical hope and disappointment, and frustration. Your path has also meant reflective honesty, complicated communication, love, determination, and resilience.

The Psychological Evaluation: What Is It?

One of your many doctors’ appointments will include a psychological evaluation. It is an essential step to ensuring the best for your future family. The main goal of this meeting is to speak with a knowledgeable psychologist to think through your needs and wishes for the surrogate or egg donor, predict difficult parts of the journey and how to prepare emotionally for them, and to discuss and prepare for some of the early challenges of parenthood. the рresent moment.

The psychological evaluation resembles a thorough health check-up for your mind and emotions. The psychologist will offer support as you discuss your strengths, uncover potential challenges, or risks, and identify areas requiring additional consideration.

The Interview

Interviews are like the first chapter of your story. The psychologist will ask you and your partner detailed questions about your background, family history, relationship dynamics, parenting experiences, and physical and emotional health. These questions aren’t a test of any sort, but, rather, it is a way for the professional to understand your emotional life and support you and your partner in welcoming a new baby.

Talking About the Hard Stuff

In the evaluation, we’ll dig into your medical history, especially your mental health background. It’s not about reopening old wounds, but about understanding how you and your partner have coped with challenges in the past.

The psychologist will ask questions to better understand your relationship and see how you communicate and work together. This includes how you talk to each other, share your feelings, and deal with challenges. The discussion may also include how you handle disagreements and support each other during difficult times.

Think of these discussions as helpful to pinpoint areas where both of you might benefit from extra support and ways to acknowledge and recognize your strengths as partners.

Disclosure

Lastly and importantly, you will talk about your plans to disclose your son or daughter’s unique birth narrative, which includes how they were conceived, and what that means for future contact and knowledge about their health. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, openness is considered key, and parents should feel comfortable sharing their child’s birth narrative with them once they begin to ask questions, or when the parents feel the time is right.

The ethics and guidelines around donors and surrogacy are nuanced as they account for the donor or surrogate’s wishes for privacy while also considering what is important for the child’s health. For example, some legal agreements may allow for contact should one or the other party develop a health condition that may have implication for the other. This evaluation, along with consultations with your lawyer, may provide opportunities for you to think through both your wishes and limits to disclosure.

Feedback and Recommendations

Finally, as your time together wraps up, your provider may have some short-term and long-term recommendations to support the wellbeing of your family and future little one. Many providers will provide resource lists with journal articles, board books, and online support options.

Reflection and Opportunity

Embrace the evaluation as an opportunity for growth for you and your partner. You will be able to identify the strengths you and your partner have and figure out your areas of growth. Reflecting on the journey you and your partner are partaking in will help you feel more confident in you and your partner’s abilities to be intended parents. Through this guided psychological evaluation, you’re not just fulfilling a requirement; you’re actively shaping your readiness to embrace the joys and challenges of parenthood.

References
https://www.conceiveabilities.com/about/blog/do-intended-parents-undergo-psychological-screening
https://southwestsurro.com/blog/why-intended-parents-need-psych-eval


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