By Pamela Hirsch
Baby Quest Foundation
The cost of fertility treatments can seem overwhelming. Although traveling overseas is one wonderful option to save costs, some intended parents are unable to travel for fertility treatment. There are grants specifically for those who need to pursue IVF in the United States. Global IVF is excited to introduce Baby Quest Foundation to our visitors, a fertility charity offering financial support to those in need of assistance.
When you feel the first flutter kick inside your body, you begin to worry. Will my baby have ten fingers and ten toes? Will the lungs and other organs be fully developed? Will the heart be strong? You worry when he or she starts to walk and you wish babies wore crash helmets. You worry when you strap your child into the car seat, when you see your little one climbing on the school gym set, and later when you reluctantly hand over the keys to the car as your child admires the new driver’s license you’ve dreaded for years. Even when the child is an adult, you worry that he/she won’t get into a good school, get hired for the right job, find the perfect mate or simply be happy because how can you be content when your child is not?
When our twenty-eight year old daughter, Nicole, and her husband, Josh, decided to start a family we were thrilled. Both had graduated from college, had begun to thrive in their careers, and they had bought a house. In fact, at that point, my excitement overtook my worry, and I eagerly looked forward to the future.
The enthusiasm grew when Nicole got pregnant. Soon after, however, a dark cloud began to hover over us. After hearing the baby’s heartbeat, Nicole returned for her next appointment to find out the fetus was no longer viable. This began three years of agony – IUI attempts, and several IVF’s, each resulting in pregnancy and then ending with a miscarriage. I can remember where I was when each gut-wrenching phone call came, telling me of another loss. The bad news just kept coming – polyps, uterine surgeries, failed attempts. I remember after the second miscarriage when, call it a mother’s intuition, I sat down at the dinner table and warned my husband that we should start putting money away for a surrogate because Nicole would need this. When my husband’s response was a lukewarm, “We’ll see,” rather than a resounding, “Yes,” our communication took a three-day hiatus. I don’t think I smiled for months, and I wasn’t even the one enduring the physical torture of hormonal injections and failed attempts. Still, you’re a mother whether your child is one or thirty.
Fast forward several years, and I marvel at Nicole and Josh’s two year old biological daughter born via a surrogate. Of course, now I worry when I see her going up the stairs or trying to climb out of her crib, but what a wonderful miracle to be able to worry!
Then one morning a few months ago, I woke up suddenly and had a troubled thought. Suppose we couldn’t have helped Nicole and Josh financially. Suppose they weren’t able to turn to surrogacy, which offered such an attractive solution. Even adoption came with a price tag, although smaller, and was sometimes accompanied by risks such as genetic factors. My thoughts continually returned to the same point: how would I have dealt with the inability of my daughter to have her own child simply because the procedures were too costly and not covered by insurance? This would not be acceptable.
That is why I started Baby Quest Foundation.
Baby Quest Foundation is a 501 c (3) non-profit established in 2011. Our mission is to grant financial assistance to those who cannot afford the high costs of alternative means of conception such as egg donation, artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, and surrogacy.
Toward the end of 2011, with my daughter’s help, I established a website and gathered a more-than-impressive board of directors comprised of reproductive endocrinologists, clinical psychologists, family formation attorneys, and financial experts. On our website, we posted an application for those who required financial assistance for fertility treatments. We began receiving applications and more applications, and more….. There seemed to be an endless stream of those like our daughter and her husband – outstanding, young, hard-working people who had suffered both physically and emotionally in their battle with infertility. There were couples who had undergone countless procedures, mortgaged their homes, taken out loans, and still no child to cuddle and love. They had no parents or relatives who could step forward and offer help. They had each reached the end of their pursuit and begged to be a recipient of a financial grant. Opening every envelope became torture, knowing each would contain the story of yet another deserving couple.
With the many applications, there were also many signs of hope – contributions for our cause. Friends sent checks of support; strangers saw our website and donated. Having owned a for-profit educational company, I was a stranger to the non-profit world. It is, indeed, a roller coaster ride. There were days when the lack of envelopes containing checks made me question how people could be so uncaring. Other days restored my optimism. Generosity can be found in the most unsuspecting places and from those you least expect. Still, there remains a chasm between what has been contributed and what is so greatly needed.
Baby Quest Foundation is poised to give out its first grant in March 2012 within three months of the beginning of our fundraising campaign. Can we give as large a grant or help as many applicants as we would like? No, but we are on our way.
Infertility has been called an “anonymous epidemic.” (Self Magazine, August 5, 2010) It affects one in eight women in our country. Add to this the same sex couples who require alternative means to conceive, and the numbers are astounding.
Baby Quest is an infant in the non-profit arena. It will not be easy to battle the demon of infertility. We are up against insurance companies who refuse to cover procedures and drug companies whose prices are astronomical. Whereas there are private groups and governmental agencies that deal with adoption and foster children, there are few companies, if any,that fund procedures for physical intervention in pregnancy. The advance of science has provided the technology for more to conceive. These innovations, however, should not be reserved for those who have the financial resources to pay for the treatments out of pocket. Having a child should not be an issue of class.
If you know someone who has been touched by infertility or if you cannot imagine life without your children or grandchildren, I hope you will take the time to visit the Baby Quest website: www.babyquestfoundation.org. Our journey has just begun. Please join us with a donation – large or small – and enable more to build a family and fulfill a dream.