Psychologists as gatekeepers: A qualitative examination of intended parents’ feelings about meeting with a psychologist before surrogacy

Psychologists often act as gatekeepers in healthcare contexts (e.g., organ donation/receipt, gender-affirming care), including for assisted reproductive care, such as surrogacy. However, given that many people can build their families without medical intervention, some have posited that the involvement of psychologists in these cases may be discriminatory. In the current study, we aimed to answer: how do intended parents feel about being required to meet with a psychologist as part of their surrogacy journeys?

Using data from a dissertation project, interviews with intended parents (n = 8) were analyzed. Seven were cisgender women and six were Black.

Every participant agreed that seeing a psychologist should be required for intended parents pursuing surrogacy. Three themes emerged: a) managing worry and enhancing preparedness, b) addressing psychological and relational concerns, including those related to how the intended parent(s) came to pursue surrogacy, and c) feeling this is merely part of the process. This study suggests that intended parents find diverse value in the experience of meeting with a psychologist, rather than finding it harmful.

Haviland Byrd, she/her, Undergraduate Student, Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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