Tacked to the wall were hundreds of baby pictures. Twins, some triplets, mostly singletons. Photos that were beginning to show signs of aging, curled at the corners. Babies in outfits that came straight from the 90’s. Poor kids. Dressed in plaid ‘skorts’ and denim from head to foot for the whole clinic to see. I walked by these same photos every appointment. Sometimes they filled me with hope. I’d smile and think of all the miracles that were made right here in these sterile rooms. Other times, I’d grimace, and grit my teeth. How many women didn’t get to put a baby on the wall?
Dr. Whitten came into the room, offered his kind smile and drinks…No thanks Doc. Not unless it’s two fingers of the hard stuff. We were here to discuss the next steps. 3 intrauterine inseminations, 1 surgery to remove endometriosis and a cystectomy, 6 more intrauterine inseminations of which some were canceled mid way due to eggs growing on the wrong ovary….all failed. “You will need Invitro Fertilization.” I knew what this meant. He just signed the death sentence to our dream of having children. We didn’t have any more money. Or valuables. Or credit. We were just informed that $12,000 to $15,000 was the ticket to a baby. Maybe. If it works. 50% chance. I was not really in a good place emotionally. (Click here to read my post The Infertility Hell Under the Rug, the prequel to this post).
Our insurance covered none of the previous treatments of IUIs, and they weren’t going to cover an IVF either. Something about it being a ‘lifestyle choice’ to have children. I have plenty to say about that…but will save it for another time.
That night I found Baby Quest Foundation. www.babyquestfoundation.org A 501c(3) charity that provides financial assistance to people needing help to start a family. It was a new charity, and the site must have only been active for a few days, otherwise I would have found it before. I read through it voraciously. A woman named Pamela Hirsch and her daughter Nicole, started the charity after Nicole experienced infertility at its worst…miscarriages leading to a surrogate. Over the next few days, I worked on the application, getting the information from the doctor, and Chris wrote a beautiful essay telling our story. We sent off the package and waited. ‘Hurry up and wait’ is always the game you play in infertility land. About a month later, we received an email from Pamela asking us to please call her since Baby Quest was going to reward us with a grant.
I felt my inner Whoopi explode right out of me. It was a tremendous day.
Through the generous gift of a grant we were able to conceive Noah. My Lucky Charm. He was delivered on March 17, 2013 (BTW his photo is the Baby Quest banner as seen above). Over the last several years I have stayed in close contact with Pamela. She is on my speed dial. We bounce ideas back and forth to bring more money into the charity, to get publicity, and to help others like me. There are two main branches on this charitable tree, one is the applicants and recipients of grants. Those who need help. The other branch is fundraising efforts. The generosity of others to provide the financial support needed. Therefore I am directing this post towards two different audiences. You might be on the receiving branch and want to apply. Or you might be on the giving branch. Even if it is $20. Those donations add up. If you want to give please go to www.babyquestfoundation.org and click “Donate Here.” This charity is run by volunteers only. Almost every dime goes to an applicant. Few costs are incurred in running it. If you want to apply for a grant, please keep reading. I’m going to give you some insider tips. Things I learned through our application process, and things I have learned from participating in the charity.
- This charity does not discriminate on race, geographic location (within US) and family type. Therefore if you are a part of the LGBT community, you are in the right place.
- Read the website. Read the entire application process, familiarize yourself with the deadlines, and forms.
- Mail your application in BEFORE the deadline (May and November). They receive hundreds of applications. The committee starts reading them as soon as they come in. Nevertheless, tons show up right at the last minute….in big ‘ol piles. Now in my mind, I want mine to stand out. I would want mine to be the only one that came in one day, and get all the attention to itself that night. Right?
- Don’t ask for a signature of receipt from the post office. All this does is cause problems when picking up the application. If mail is checked when the post office is closed….then your application won’t be looked at until Monday. The charity sends out email confirmations within a few days of receipt. Make sure you receive this confirmation. This will assure you that Baby Quest has your correct email and that your packet was received.
- Write your email CAREFULLY on the application form. Print if necessary but print CLEARLY!
- Don’t forget your application fee. Your application will not be processed and it will be a waste of your time and energy putting it together. Baby Quest accepts personal checks or cashier’s checks. NOT money orders.
- Be HONEST. I remember trying to make our application show our need. When filling in how much money we needed and how much we had to contribute, I wondered if we put nothing in the contribution box would it show us as more needy, or if we could contribute a couple thousand would that make it look like we didn’t really need the help? The truth is, the less you ask for, the more likely you have a chance. About 2 weeks after sending in our application, I found out from my clinic they qualified us to receive a 25% discount. I wasn’t sure what to do with this, as it changed the amount we would need. I called Baby Quest and told them the updated information. Little did I know, this moved us up in finalist ranking.
- Keep Baby Quest updated on changes! If you get a discount, if you are successful and get pregnant…etc.
- If you own a ‘second home’ or rental properties, or a BMW, or go on a cruise every year to ‘take a break from your treatments’ etc..you are probably not in the same financial hardship as many others. Try to show in your application the sacrifices you have made to pay for your infertility on your own. For example, we sold this Jeep, used the money for treatments
and instead my husband drove this old POS Ford that he bought for $500 and did some backyard mechanical work on to get it running. True story. Sacrifice.
- Do not start your essay with “We met in highschool and…blah, blah, white picket fence”….etc. It is cliche. Too many others do the same thing.
- If you are not selected, do not send scathing emails or phone calls showing your anger. It is natural and normal to feel anger when your hopes are let down. However, many times applicants are chosen the SECOND time they apply. So be nice. Don’t exclaim “How could they be more deserving than us?” This is the hard part. Everyone is deserving of their dream. Sometimes decisions are not about who is more deserving, but about how much money there is to give, how much money different folks need, doctor success rates, what medicine Baby Quest can get donated, and willingness of applicant’s clinics to negotiate discounts.
- Research your clinic’s success rates. If you are seeing a doctor with very low success rates, and there are others in your general area that have better rates, communicate if you are willing to switch doctors. If you need suggestions on other clinics. Ask.
- Get your doctor on board with you for applying for the grant. MOST doctors are willing to work with the charity to negotiate a discounted price. Your doctor may be more willing to help out a little if you have shared with them your entrance to the applicant pool.
- Creativity is appreciated in your application, but don’t go overboard. Scrapbook, photobook and super crafty ideas are not necessary, they only take up much needed space in the Post Office box, and become hard to copy. Photos are also not necessary, but are extremely helpful. Once again, don’t over do it, 2 is a good number.
- If you are not selected, ask for feedback. Call or send an email and ask for suggestions. These are people who know A LOT about the infertility world. They are exposed to so much and have knowledge that only a wider perspective can provide. Taking their feedback might help you if you decide to apply again.
To this date Baby Quest has 14 babies born, 6 pregnancies (2 sets of twins!) and 8 new recipients who received grants May 2015. The charity has given over $200,000, and has negotiated $300,000 in donated services and medications. They have given grants to several same sex couples, couples undergoing IUI, IVF, and FETs, Those who have suffered through cancer, or needed surrogacy and egg donations, and even egg freezing for a teenage girl with advanced ovarian failure! I recommend reading all the amazing stories about the recipients on the web page, as it is quite inspirational and encouraging. Don’t feel like you have to have this crazy, movie material story in order to be chosen. We were just a teacher, and ex-military man working his way through college, that couldn’t get pregnant.
Please comment with questions you have about the application process.
Also feel free to connect with me through reading my other posts. I love connecting with those living this same struggle. You might also ‘Like’ Baby Quest Foundation on Facebook to show your support!
Look for my next blog post on Baby Quest Foundation and my adventures with The View!