COVID-19 pandemic puts IVF treatments, adoptions on hold

Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 22:19:59-04

When Andrea León married her husband Irving in 2013, they couldn't wait to start a family.

But having a baby is proving to be one of the most challenging missions of their lives.

"We’ve had 8 pregnancy losses, that’s our fertility journey," she said. " We conceived all of them naturally. We can’t figure out why I can’t maintain a pregnancy."

Each pregnancy started with hope and optimism and ended in tragedy. After the eighth loss, León says she felt helpless.

"I felt like I was at a dead end, I didn’t know where else to go," she said.

She turned to the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation, which helps couples going through infertility issues. She and her husband received the Savannah grant to help cover the costs of in vitro fertilization, or IVF. León was about to start the treatment when the coronavirus hit the United States.

"I was really debating to move forward with treatment because I’ve been through so many losses. I can’t take this chance and lose it," she said.

León decided not to move forward with the treatment and she's not alone. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has recommended that all IVF treatments that had not started before the pandemic hit to be suspended.

"They recommended people stop and wait until this pandemic, this crisis has passed and that we know more about the virus and the way it can impact pregnancies, embryos and women who are going through fertility treatment," said Dr. Camille Hammond, the CEO of the Cade Foundation.

Hammond says the virus has also put a hold on many adoptions, since courthouses around the country have closed.

"What I have heard from so many families is they feel they’ve missed their chance," said Dr. Hammond. "We are trying to keep our families encouraged and remind them there are things they can be doing even now to prepare themselves to be better parents when they ultimately bring that child home."

Dr. Hammond suggests couples focus on goals they've been considering or are working on, such as nutrition and fitness, saving money or addressing mental health issues. She also recommends couples look for online support groups.

"Many organizations are here, they’re available online and this is the time where you can really engage and get that assistance that you need to move forward with your family building."

León says support groups have given her the strength to push through this time of uncertainty. She hopes this pause in IVF treatments does not derail her family or others who dream of having children.

"If I can get this far you can get way further. Don’t give up, do not give up," Leon said. "We will overcome this pandemic, I know we will. And we will all have our happily ever afters."

For resources on how to find support groups or financial assistance, click here.