“It was the darkest time in my life,” Vicki Benjamin remembers about her five-year long struggle with infertility in the 1980’s. “All around me everyone was having babies, and we couldn’t become pregnant. What was wrong with us? Both my mother and my sister became pregnant on their honeymoons! I couldn’t even talk to them about it.”
Infertility, defined as an inability to achieve healthy pregnancy after one year of trying — or six months for women over 35 — is a medical problem most often battled in silence. Once a diagnosis is made, couples cope with a very personal kind of pain. Stories of loneliness, shame, envy, and depression abound. “I was happy for my friends with children, but for a long time, I couldn’t go to birthday parties, baby namings, and brises. The pain ran so deep. Many marriages don’t survive it.”
Now, nearly 30 years after her own dark days of infertility, Vicki Benjamin is the mother of two young adults, Elyse and Erik. She is proud to serve on the board of the Jewish Fertility Foundation and generously supports the organization through her donor-advised fund at Atlanta Jewish Foundation.
Much has changed in infertility treatment, Vicki Benjamin has learned, but the incredibly high cost has not. The average IVF cycle costs $20,000. JFF provides fertility grants of up to $10,000, up to $7,500 in interest-free loans through its partner organizations, and 20% off clinic discounts. The emotional struggles around infertility haven’t changed either, but JFF provides resources that didn’t exist when Vicki and her husband were trying to conceive.
“I was excited to learn that we have this incredible resource that provides both emotional and financial support for people struggling with infertility. I would have loved their Fertility Buddies program, for supportive one-on-one conversations with someone who has walked in your shoes.”
“Our board includes individuals who have lived through infertility, attorneys, educators, psychologists, specialists in adoption, and surrogacy. The advisory board includes many physicians, mental health professionals, and even a geneticist. I also value the many ways JFF is fiscally responsible. All salaries are covered by a donor, so our fundraising goes 100% to services that help build families. Serving on the JFF board helps me give back to people who want to create Jewish families. “One of the things I love about having a fund at AJF is that it enables me to easily contribute to those causes that matter most to me. It feels so good to bring light to people in what can be a very dark .”
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