Friday, April 18, 2014

Maybe We're Craaaazy...

One of the requirements of surrogacy is a psychological evaluation. The purpose is to rule out any glaring psychological issues that would get in the way of a healthy surrogacy relationship as well as iron out any details that might cause issues along the way.  It involves a meeting with the “Intended Parents” (Jason and I), a meeting with the Surrogate and her husband, and a joint meeting with all four of us.  Our surrogate is also required to complete a personality test.   Thankfully, the psychologist with whom I spoke said she typically uses the PAI (Personality Assessment Inventory) which consists of 344 questions and usually takes 20-30 minutes.  Many psychologists use the more laborious MMPI (Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Inventory) which consists of 567 questions and takes 1-2 hours. 

I was relieved to hear the inventory she uses was different than the MMPI, and not just because it was shorter.  I also question its validity.  Jason and I had to take an MMPI last March when we were looking to adopt.  We were both put in a room with pencil and paper and spent the next couple of hours answering question after question.  I’m quite certain I must have skipped or mis-read some questions as I was embarrassed and a little outraged when I received the results.   For example, there was a question,  "I have no enemies who really wish to harm me".  I apparently answered that as false.  I'm thinking that I didn't see the "No" in there because I don't really think I have enemies, let alone ones that really wish to harm me.   Answering that question as false apparently flagged me as someone who has Persecutory Ideas.  In other areas, I think I was perhaps too honest.  For example, there was a question that said "I have never been in trouble with the law".   I answered this question as true, since I did get caught drinking at Florida Field when I was in my late 20's.  I received a misdemeanor citation and was ejected from the stadium.   According to the MMPI, endorsing that answer, along with answering true to "Sometimes when I was young I stole things" (five dollars from my parents) classifies me as having an Anti-social Attitude.  Whatever.  For these reasons, I was less than impressed with the MMPI and was glad that my surro wouldn't have to take it.   (I was also glad that we never had to use those MMPI results because I truly did worry if they would make me look un-suitable for adoption.  Good thing it's been a year since we took it-which means we can re-take the test if need be! )

Our meeting with the psychologist was scheduled for a Tuesday morning.  Each of us had to go to work after the meeting so we all arrived in separate vehicles (Swinger's style)When we got there, the psychologist had not yet arrived and the door was locked.  At first, we got out of our cars to wait.  However, it was getting cold so we all ended up piling into my surro’s suburban-type truck.   I sat in the front with my surro and the two husbands sat in the back.  This was the first time the four of us had been together since our first meeting and it was initially a little uncomfortable, especially given that we were all about to get psycho-analyzed.  That discomfort quickly melted away once we saw this phallic-shaped balloon in the center console. 

Dare I ask?  My surro immediately shared that she had been to a carnival with her children and that the balloon was once a dachshund.   Likely story.    Needless to say, it definitely provided some comic relief for all of us.

When the psychologist arrived, she immediately apologized for being late, as well as for the state of her office.  She explained that this was a satellite office that she really only uses for overflow when she needs to get client in on a particular day.   Since it isn't her main office, the decor was quite sparse. In fact, she had taken tables and chairs from her own home in order to ensure that we all had a place to sit.   While the psychologist was getting our surro set up with the testing in the waiting room, she told Jason and I to head back to her office.  As we were nervously waiting, Jason pointed out the sole painting that was on the wall.  It was a lighthouse.  I immediately felt a sense of ease.  Lighthouses had become a bit of a symbol of hope for Jason and I.  It's meaning stems from Jason's father, who began photographing lighthouses towards the end of his life.  I never had the honor of meeting Jason's dad, but by all accounts he was a wonderful man.  Whenever we see a lighthouse we think of him and I'd like to think that it's his way of connecting with us from beyond.  Jason doesn't put as much stock into the lighthouses as I do, but I do think that seeing that lighthouse painting was reassuring to us both.

When the psychologist came into the room, she asked us a lot of questions.  She basically just wanted to understand what had brought us to this point, if we had any concerns thus far with our surrogate, and if we anticipated any concerns moving forward.  Our story is long and complicated.  I probably could have given an abridged version but its hard to stop once I get going, so both the psychologist and Jason were patient with me.  When we were done, we switched places with our surro and her husband and went and grabbed a quick cup of coffee. Finally, the four of us met together.  The psychologist explained that given our history of loss, we would likely need some hand-holding during the initial stages of pregnancy. I was glad that she said this because I know how hard my own subsequent pregnancies were after our first miscarriage.  I can only imagine how hard someone else's pregnancy will be after three more miscarriages.  We also discussed what we wanted our contact to look like and all agreed that we hoped it would continue beyond the birth.  We fought back tears as we expressed our gratitude for this opportunity to finally create our family.

One of the things the therapist said really resonated with us:   The more struggle and heartbreak you endure, the more you are capable of experiencing joy when it comes your way.  We so look forward to the joyous times ahead...

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