We have been trying to grow our family since shortly after our marriage in 2013. Like most couples we dreamed about a nursery and names and eyed baby clothes while shopping. After several months without success we sought treatment. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility, a frustrating finding as there is nothing to “fix.”
A year of pills, tests and procedures followed. Still we were met with heartbreak at every turn. We were regulars at the five A.M. call at Magee Hospital for treatments where we would sit for four hours waiting for our procedures only to return days later for what was inevitably a negative pregnancy test. We were at rock bottom emotionally, financially, physically and spiritually.
Eventually, we realized we would have to grieve the idea of having a biological child. If you’ve never had to do this, you may not realize how difficult it is. We would never experience pregnancy, never have a sonogram picture hanging on our refrigerator and never bring our child home from the hospital. It was a long, gut-wrenching road to travel. With treatment options seemingly at an end, we began to look elsewhere.
In spring of 2015 we started researching adoption. It was a daunting task. We attended meeting after meeting about both domestic and international infant adoption. What we discovered was how much adoption has changed over the years and how everything we thought we knew was false. According to a 2014-2015 report the average cost to a couple adopting a baby internationally or domestically is between $39,996 - $41,532. In addition, there are not nearly as many babies up for adoption as there used to be. In both the U.S. and abroad, many couples wait years or are never matched.
We still pursued adoption, finally settling on an agency in Texas and scheduling a phone consultation for October 8, 2015. The grief of infertility had weighed heavily on us for years and, as our support group states, adoption does not cure infertility. Still, at the end of that phone call, it seemed that this was, indeed, where God was leading us. Whereas before, we were going through the motions, we suddenly felt a calling. Deb looked at Scott as soon as the call was over and said, “For the first time, I feel truly excited about adoption!”
The next day Deb found out she was pregnant.
It happened naturally. After all the drugs, treatments and tests, it occurred all on its own. You would think we would have been jumping for joy. Instead, it was a cautious excitement. We couldn’t believe it. Slowly, however, we began to trust the idea and realized God had really given us a miracle. Once again, we began looking through baby books, picturing our nursery and planning for the day we would bring our baby home from the hospital. Devastatingly, we lost the baby at 11 weeks. It felt like a cruel joke.
After grieving the miscarriage and taking time to get back to “normal”, Deb decided she wanted one more meeting with a new infertility clinic. Here, the doctor suggested something we had never heard of: embryo adoption.
When a couple goes through IVF (in vitro fertilization) eggs are created (sometimes by a donor) and fertilized. On a good cycle, this can produce as many as 15-20 embryos leaving a couple with more than they would ever use. They have four options for the unused embryos: 1) Destroy them. 2) Donate them to science. 3) Pay a storage fee to keep them frozen indefinitely. 4) Donate them. In the final scenario, the donor recipient receives the embryo, experiences a regular pregnancy and delivers the baby, thus being the biological (while not genetic) mother.
Immediately upon hearing this option we were on board and the doctor thought we were perfect candidates. Unfortunately, the next year and half was met with long wait lists, poor-quality embryos that had no chance of success and frustrating delays and failures. Eventually, we realized our local clinic did not have a large enough embryo supply to give us a good chance at pregnancy.
Last month, after much research, Deb contacted a clinic in Florida. They specialize in embryo transfers, have a very high success rate and only use high-grade donated embryos. This looks to be our very best option.
Now comes the bad part: our insurance won’t cover this clinic. They do not recognize it as one of their “centers of excellence” even though it has a very high success rate and its doctors are in network. This is yet another difficulty as we have already spent well over $10,000 out of pocket in this journey for insurance deductibles, medicine that wasn’t covered under our plan and co-pays. However, we believe this clinic is our best, and last, chance.
This is where we’re asking for help. It often takes more than one transfer to achieve pregnancy, even under the best circumstances. Each transfer will cost $6,000. In addition, there is approximately $4000 of medication required for each treatment cycle. There are also, of course, travel expenses associated with each trip.
If you feel compelled to help, please know, we may not have success. We are hoping and praying and believing we will. We have chosen our embryos based on a file from the donors, who have chosen to remain completely anonymous. In fact, legally, the embryos are already ours. We feel giving them a chance at life is a beautiful opportunity. According to CBS News, there are 400,000 embryos currently in frozen storage in the United States alone. If we can give life to one or two, we will feel like it has all been worth it.
It’s a difficult journey to share. After all, fertility is a private matter and we are, in general, private people. However, we feel it is a story with beautiful potential. With your help, we hope we can one day realize our dream of giving life, picking out a name and bringing our child home.
We thank you so much for reading. And from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for helping.