Being a mother was always my plan. I have a storage locker full of items from my childhood and travels abroad that I am so excited to share. I have always yearned to pass down my Jewish traditions and values and to show my children the world’s cultures and countries that I have extensively explored. I am a Special Educator and Autism Specialist and spend my days with other people’s children while longing for my own.
At 38, I hadn’t yet found a life partner, so I went through two retrieval cycles to freeze my eggs as an “insurance policy.” I gave myself “a couple more years” to date, but COVID-19 and working internationally got in the way. After several years had passed, I still had no husband and was advancing in age. I decided it was time to start my family.
I was living and working in South Korea at the time. As if the journey of IVF itself wasn’t hard enough, I had to coordinate my care between doctors in Seoul and Chicago. I was able to retrieve eggs while working abroad, but it was and still is illegal for a single woman to become pregnant by IVF in South Korea. I had to ship my retrieved eggs to my doctor in Chicago to be fertilized and then transferred. My federal insurance did not cover IVF, let alone shipping eggs across the world, so I used my savings and beyond to try to become a mother.
After trying to become pregnant annually while on summer break, I realized I would have to return to the United States where I was able to keep trying throughout the year. I followed my last two batches of retrieved eggs back to the U.S., only to learn that none of them were able to be transferred. This left me without sufficient funds to continue and a feeling of despair.
After taking some time to consider next steps, I found my greatest barrier was finances. Tears of joy came to my eyes when I learned I was selected as a JUF’s Path to Parenthood grant. These funds will allow me to continue my family building journey and have filled me with gratitude beyond words. I feel renewed hope that one day soon my dream of someone calling me, “Mom,” will come true.
Kim is a recipient of the Path to Parenthood Grant from the Jewish United Fund – Chicago.