Kerri and Jason
When Kerri and Jason Stallard married nine years ago, they knew they wanted to have a family. The pair hoped to have a biological child of their own, and then adopt a child. Jason’s father had grown up in an orphanage, and the couple had seen firsthand the effects of someone not having a family. “The idea of adoption was close to our hearts,” says Kerri.
Soon after their wedding, Kerri and Jason immediately tried to get pregnant. But as often happens in life, things didn’t go as planned. Month after month passed by with no success. Discouraged, they finally went to see a fertility specialist.
The doctor did many tests, but never found a conclusive cause for their infertility. “We don’t really know why I couldn’t get pregnant,” Kerri says, “but the cause didn’t really matter. The bottom line was that I wasn’t getting pregnant.” The couple decided to try IUI (intra uterine insemination). Their insurance didn’t cover any of their fertility treatment, and IUI was a less expensive option, says Kerri. But crushingly, the treatment didn’t work. Soon after that, Kerri’s father became quite ill. The pair decided to take a break from treatment, and focus on spending time with him.
When the time was finally right, Kerri and Jason went back to see their fertility specialist. This time, he recommended they try IVF (in vitro fertilization). “We were so hopeful,” Kerri recalls. “IVF was intimidating, all those injections and appointments, but we were eager to have a child of our own.” IVF resulted in four embryos. Two of the embryos were transferred to Kerri’s uterus, and the couple waited eagerly to learn if they were pregnant. Once again, they were sadly disappointed.
A year later, Kerri and Jason were hopeful as they tried another frozen embryo transfer. About that same time, they also decided to pursue adoption. They applied to an adoption agency and were accepted for a two-year contract. Soon after, they learned that Kerri had become pregnant naturally! But that joy soon turned to heartbreak when she miscarried at seven weeks.
While they worked through the adoption process and waited to get connected with a birthmother, Kerri tried a holistic approach to fertility. She met with a reproductive immunologist and concentrated on getting balanced and healthy. While Kerri felt good physically, she still didn’t get pregnant. Over the next two years, they communicated with three different potential birth moms, each time getting their hopes up. But time after time, their hopes were dashed when it did not work out. By now, the couple was out of money and their adoption agency contract was about to end. Undeterred in their dream of a family, Kerri and Jason started a Go Fund Me page. While it didn’t provide much help monetarily, it helped the couple connect with many friends and coworkers who were struggling with fertility issues of their own.
“It shed a lot of light on what we were going through, and let us know we weren’t alone,” says Kerri. “It felt good to know that we could help someone else who was also going through infertility.” That’s when a friend told Kerri and Jason about Coalition Grants from the (formerly) Kevin J. Lederer Life Foundation. “It’s worth a shot!” the couple decided, and they applied.
In September 2015, they got a call from the Coalition. They had been awarded a grant that they could use on fertility treatment or toward adoption. Kerri and Jason were thrilled! They would use the grant toward their goal of adoption. The couple’s adoption agency extended their contract at no charge and on February 8, 2016, they got the call they had been dreaming of – a birthmother in Texas had selected them as the new parents for her twins. A whirlwind of texts and phone calls with the birth mother followed, and Kerri and Jason went through all the necessary legal steps. Finally, they began preparing their home for the arrival of two beautiful little babies. When they got the call on February 15 that the twins were about to be born, they grabbed their suitcases and baby supplies and hopped into the car. The 15-hour drive from Chicago to Texas couldn’t go fast enough, but they arrived soon after the babies were born.
“When we got to the room, the birthmom handed me our daughter, Ruth,” Kerri remembers, “and the agency lady gave Jason our son, Charlie.” It was a precious time the couple would always remember. The hospital gave the couple a room with the babies. They even got to spend some important time talking with the birthmother.
After all the papers were signed and before the birthmother was discharged, Kerri spent some one-on-one time with her. “I told her how grateful I was for her gift, how I admired her, and I hoped the babies had these same traits,” Kerri says. “I told her the babies would always know about her. Before leaving, we prayed together. It was a prayer of thanksgiving and a request for courage and strength over the coming days and the next 18 years of these children’s lives. I knew that leaving that room I was going to enter the next chapter of my life, and I’m grateful for that precious time with their birthmother.”
Kerri and Jason are also grateful to the many people who have touched their lives through the Foundation. The grant came at a time when they needed help the most. “There were many times over the years that we were frustrated,” Kerri says. “Seeing our friends and family get pregnant so easily while we couldn’t was difficult. But now it seems silly to think we felt like that when all along God had this amazing plan for us to parent this precious boy and girl. These two have even more love because of the journey we went through to build a family.”
Kerri and Jason are recipients of a Family Building Financial Grant.