COVID-19 has had significant impacts on the infertility community and surrogacy journeys. We spoke to Brook Lee of Modern Wahine on KHON about these impacts.
We are still learning about COVID and understanding transmission and risk. As a result, many treatment cycles have been delayed or halted. This has taken a huge emotional toll on families. In addition, the impact on the economy has added financial uncertainty with many asking, “can I afford treatment now?” Finally, we are seeing travel impacts – we have surrogates coming from the outer islands that have be quarantined. We have international parents who need to travel to Hawaii for the birth of their baby. Thankfully our agency has many contingency plans and so we continue to operate and support our clients.
We want to emphasize that it is really important to provide extra compassion for those dealing with infertility at the moment. Support that typically is in place may not be there – due to social distancing, a lot of support groups cannot meet in person and appointments have to be attended alone. The hardest part of this is when treatment cycles are halted or postponed. Many of our clients have struggled for 5, 10, even 15 years with infertility and their cycles mean hope – the possibility of having that family they’ve always dreamt of. Now that suddenly is being interrupted by COVID and it’s heartbreaking. Again, we are also dealing with the financial stress – many are now having to make a trade-off between investing in treatment or dipping into emergency funds, or having those funds evaporate because they now need to be used for other expenses.
What resources are available? How can we help families cope? On our website, we talk about COVID and how as an agency we have changed our procedures to continue to safely operate. Our SeedCoach program has financial counselors that can help bridge any funding gaps. On our social media channels, we have pinned some wonderful resources from RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. Those resources include helpful videos, online forums and ways to get connected with virtual support groups, as well as a hotline to call to talk to someone and get help.
Finally, we strongly encourage everyone to talk to their team. The clinics have transitioned to telehealth. It is important to discuss next steps and your treatment plan, ask your physician what criteria the clinic is using to resume treatment, and don’t be shy about advocating for yourself and asking hard questions. It’s very painful to be left up in the air and we don’t have answers to everything right now. But let’s talk about it! Connecting with your treatment team and having an honest conversation is really healthy and helpful.