A spark of light and life has found its way to a family in the D.C. Jewish community, as the first baby was born to a couple struggling with infertility that received financial assistance to pay for fertility procedures through a grant from the Jewish Fertility Foundation of Greater Washington.
The D.C. couple had their baby in October and were delighted and thankful that they were able to make their dreams finally become a reality without crushing them financially, due to the help they received from JFF.
“I mean, [it’s] kind of crazy. I feel very lucky. It’s funny to think you could be the first. Who would’ve thought that when you’re reaching out and applying, [you think] tons of people must be applying, there’s a huge backlog,” said Mary, the mother of the first baby born with the help of the grants.
Mary, whose name was changed to protect her privacy, said that she heard about the services JFF provides from a friend who lived in Atlanta, where JFF has a presence. She tried applying for aid through the Atlanta office, but despite a quick and thorough response, she wasn’t eligible.
That all changed when JFF opened offices in the Washington, D.C., area earlier this year and began providing a wide range of services for local people struggling with infertility. The services range from emotional aid, to a “fertility buddy” system, to a grant for Jewish families to help pay for expensive fertility treatments.
These services are part of JFF’s mission to support people trying to build families and tackle the challenges they may face from a variety of angles. Aviva Janus, director of JFF’s D.C. office, said that the organization offers three branches of services: emotional, educational and financial.
Janus said that the emotional and educational services are available to everyone, including individuals and families that are not Jewish, but that the financial aid and grants are earmarked for Jewish individuals and families trying to conceive, with the funding coming from a number of organizations, including the Jewish Federation.
Eligibility for the grants is decided by a financial committee at JFF that looks holistically at an applicant’s situation and makes a determination based on that blended variety of factors.
“I think they look at you holistically, so if you’ve spent $30,000 already, you’re probably at your wit’s end … They look at you as a whole person … just because you make a good income doesn’t mean that you have $40,000 to $50,000 dollars to spend on something. People spend a lot, a lot of money during this,” Mary said.
The grants are helpful in covering part or the entire cost of treatments, with grants of up to $1,000 for intrauterine insemination and up to $7,500 for in vitro fertilization, according to Janus. JFF also provides further aid by partnering with other organizations that help women receive medications at a discounted price and fertility clinics that give JFF members a 20% discount.
Having the opportunity to be eligible for these services was a revelation for Mary, who had been trying different treatments, the costs of which added up significantly over time.
“At that point, we had spent a lot of money on IVF. We had started IVF, and we tried a couple other fertility treatments, like less invasive IVF. And so obviously, it’s very expensive. Insurance doesn’t cover much,” Mary said.
After joining the program and being approved for financial assistance, Mary received a grant right before a treatment at Shady Grove Fertility Clinic, and it covered the exact cost of the $5,000 treatment, which had her feeling that everything was going to go right this time.
“I feel like that was this [sign that] ‘Okay guys, God’s here for us. This is happening. This was going to work.’ I just felt like it all just came together exactly on the right day, at the right time, the right amount. It was really pretty amazing.” Mary said.
It all worked out for Mary and her husband and serves as a shining success story for their family and JFF as its efforts expand across the D.C. region.
Mary said that she wanted people considering JFF and their services to know about the heavy benefit of the resources and community they provide, which is invaluable to people going through such an emotional and financially taxing process.
“They really provide the kind of the support [people need], they follow up with you and they’re there for you. I think those things are very valuable,” Mary said.
And the success is also impacting JFF as well, with Janus saying that knowing their work has helped bring so much joy has been very exciting for them all.
“We are overjoyed, and it makes us want to work harder to bring more babies into the world and build families,” Janus said.
More information about JFF and their services can be found on their website: jewishfertilityfoundation.org.