Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Interesting Article in Today's Online Chicago Tribune - About Infertility,0,619925.column

For infertile couples, help and support

During trying times, hopefuls will hear success stories and talk to clinics and doctors at conference

Dawn Turner Trice

August 10, 2011

Katie Davis, 24, lost her ovaries to cancer when she was 12. Doctors told her that if she wanted to have a baby one day, she would have to use donor eggs and undergo in vitro fertilization. She has been trying to have a baby since September 2010, but so far no luck.

Davis said infertile women sometimes feel like members of a "silent sorority."

"Women are quiet about infertility because they're so ashamed," said Davis, of Bolingbrook. "If you want to have children and you can't do that, you may feel your womanhood has been taken away."

On Saturday, Davis and her husband will share their story at a free conference on infertility and adoption, called A Family of My Own, in Glenview.

Conference organizers say the event will be an opportunity for people to learn from a variety of experts who run in vitro fertilization centers, surrogacy programs and adoption agencies; who teach couples how to raise money for the costly procedures; and who explain how scientific advances are enhancing a couple's ability to conceive.

For more information on the conference and to register, go to

Dr. Angeline Beltsos, a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist, is medical director of the Chicago-based Fertility Centers of Illinois. She said that couples navigating infertility need a strong support network because the process is often taxing physically and emotionally.

"When they're going through treatment, they have to come in for ultrasounds, blood tests and even surgery," said Beltsos, who will be speaking at the conference. "They have busy lives. But what tries them the most is the anguish when all their work doesn't produce a baby.

"When they find a safe place to share their stories, it gives people hope that (they can have a baby) one way or another. We can help them."

But help is often quite expensive. Beltsos said a round of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, costs about $15,000 to $17,000 without use of donor eggs; surrogacy can range from $50,000 to $100,000; and, adoption starts near $40,000.

In Illinois, companies that have at least 25 employees and provide insurance that covers pregnancy-related benefits must also cover all or some fertility treatments. Although there are exemptions, the state is one of the few in the country to require companies to do so.

But costs related to surrogacy remain a large hurdle for some parents-to-be.

Katie O'Brien, 32, of Wadsworth, learned she had uterine fibroids in August 2005. Doctors told her that conceiving a child would be difficult, despite five surgeries to help correct the problem. She and her husband tried to conceive via IVF for two years before deciding to use a surrogate.

"When we found out how expensive surrogacy was, I cried the whole way home," said O'Brien, a patient at Fertility Centers of Illinois. "If you don't have insurance, you can find grants to help you pay for fertility treatment or adoption. But we couldn't find anything for surrogacy. A lot of costs related to surrogacy are similar to adoption."

She said she came across the Facebook page of the nonprofit Birdies for Babies, an annual golf outing that allows couples to raise money to pay for infertility treatments. With the help of family and friends, O'Brien, an elementary school teacher, and her husband, an accountant, raised $30,000 toward their costs of roughly $60,000.

"We found a surrogate whose insurance should cover the pregnancy," said O'Brien, whose blog is at "That's keeping us on the low end of the price range. We'll pay for the rest with savings and help from family and begin trying in September."

One of the conference sponsors is the Broken Brown Egg (, a nonprofit started by Regina Townsend, 29, an Oak Park resident, who aims to destigmatize infertility in the black community.

Townsend, who is black, said that when she and her husband were having difficulty getting pregnant, she found very few resources directed toward women of color.

"When we talk about reproductive health and black women, it's always about contraception and prevention, abortion and (sexually transmitted diseases)," said Townsend. "It's always everything before fertility."

She said there's a misconception that blacks don't have problems conceiving, don't adopt and can't afford the treatments.

"Until I started talking about infertility, I couldn't find one member of even my own family who would admit this was something our family has dealt with before," Townsend said. "You want to feel you're not alone, but you want information. You want to be proactive."

Beltsos said conferences such as A Family of My Own help make couples aware of what's available to them. That includes the breakthroughs in the science of fertility treatments.

For example, the advances in the technology for freezing eggs have taken off dramatically over the last decade thanks in part to work done in Italy, Japan and Korea. She said such advancements have had a profound effect on women diagnosed with cancer.

"We will pull eggs out and have them preserved for when the woman's done with chemo," Beltsos said. "Women can come back once they're cured from cancer and use their own biological eggs. No one would question that the most important thing is saving her life, but afterward it shifts the focus from surviving cancer to living one's life."

Davis said that when she was diagnosed with cancer at 12, her cancer was too aggressive to consider taking time to save her eggs.

"From the beginning, I knew I would have to go the IVF route," said Davis. "There's no guarantee it's going to work. We ran out of eggs the first time and now we're starting back at square one."

Davis, who also had a fundraiser through Birdies for Babies, said she believes it's important to share her story. She said a woman her husband knew in high school read about their ordeal on her blog (at and offered to donate her eggs.

"It's amazing that things like this happen," said Davis. "At first, we were both not sure whether we should talk about (the infertility). But just by being so open with our story and speaking at events, we believe we're also helping others.

"I've been in remission for 11 years. I'm cancer-free. The last thing is this, and once I have a baby, I'll know cancer didn't take anything away from me."

Copyright © 2011, Chicago Tribune

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lessons on Adoption - Good or Bad these are my feelings

Its incredibly difficult and quite emotional to write this post. Many have asked where Andrew and I are at with regards to our decision to adopt. I guess you could say that I naively or prematurely wrote my very excited blog about moving forward with adoption.

We had done some investigation into adoption, but we had not done all of our homework. As I stated in a previous blog, part of my healing at least for the time being in the place that I am currently at, I would like to adopt a baby, a newborn. Andrew and I don't have any preference on the gender of the child, and have thought very hard about race. For the purposes of too many opinions I will leave the descriptions of our thoughts surrounding race as a non-factor and something I don't feel needs to be discussed in an open forum. If you want to speak to me further then I don't mind in a private setting. Perhaps over coffee :)

Anyway, in our beginning steps we discovered the absolutely disgusting and dark side of adoption. Now here is where race does play a part, but played little in our decision with regards to adoption (hopefully that made sense). Depending on the race of a child depended on the cost and the availability of a baby. If you desired a Caucasian baby where both biological parents were both "white" then it would cost you between $32,000 to $42,000. That cost covers... actually I don't know what exactly, considering if you would like to adopt an African American baby the cost is from $12,000 to $15,000. These costs were fairly consistent whether we chose to go through an adoption agency or through a private adoption attorney.

So I began to ask myself where does the money go... And if its to cover administrative costs, medical costs, and counseling costs for both before and after care of the biological mother how then is the cost between one race so much more then another? My understanding is that paperwork is blind to color, medical costs are blind to color, counseling is blind to color...

In the midst of being in a very dark and painful place of not being able to have children on my own (unless God does a miracle - here is to believing still in miracles!) I am angered, annoyed, frustrated, and hurt by the cost of adoption and the idea that its free to make a baby but requires that only the wealthy can afford to adopt. I guess I realized why so many adopt much later in life, its simply when they could afford to do so.

Now some may say, Brenda, there is a tax break and I would say yes there is and its around $13,000 assuming the adoption goes through you can file the adoption costs on your tax and receive the credit. However, that does not in anyway cover the costs associated with adopting a child who is not African-American nor does it cover the costs if the adoption does not go through...

Oh yes, and that leads me to the other devastating news we received as we moved into the adoption world. You may pay your $12,000 to $42,000 and it may not result in you receiving a child. Sadly there is little recourse for you in receiving any of your money back. This may sound heartless on my end, but when you barely have enough money for yourself right now you can't imagine potentially letting go of a significant amount without any guarantee... Plus I know what it already means to give a significant amount of cash away for no guarantee with three failed IVF attempts.

So I have no update other then Andrew and I are childless we may be for a very long time or for the rest of our lives. I have cried out to our Lord and asked for a miracle, but I have also come to understand that some times the miracle we are asking for is not in God's ultimate plan no matter how much I don't understand. We can not afford to adopt at this point in our life so any movement forward in pursuing adoption has come to a screeching and very painful stop. Perhaps one day when we are at a different time we will begin to pursue adoption again.

I have been on an extreme emotional roller coaster with so many slammed doors that I am desperately trying to learn how to pick myself up amongst this deep disappointment. I am angry with my body, I am angry with the system, I am angry that I believe adoption has become a profit centered service which preys on those with deep wounds. I believe they have put a "legal" spin on baby selling and it sickens me to my core...

That is it that is all I have to say... I am going to take a break from writing anything with regards to our struggles to have or adopt children because I have no momentum forward in our story with regards to this subject.

A perfectly tarnished child of God