When it comes to supporting couples through infertility, Georgia ranks near the bottom of the country.
Resolve: The National Infertility Association gave the state a D grade on its state fertility scorecard, ranking Georgia 44 out of 50 states. The low rating was due to the fact that the state doesn't mandate coverage for fertility treatments, so many couples find themselves footing the bill.
Amanda and Dustin Winters and her husband met in high school. They got married and settled down just outside of Rome. The couple has just celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, but they found out that becoming parents was a lot more difficult than they ever dreamed.
The two started thinking about kids a year into the marriage.
"I always dreamed we would try, we would get pregnant quickly, we would surprise everyone because they wouldn't even know we were trying," Amanda Winters said. "But as we got into it, we really thought, 'Okay, we're facing a big challenge here.'"
Amanda and Dustin went for testing at Reproductive Biology Associates in Atlanta, where they learned they both had fertility issues.
Their doctor, Reproductive Biology Associates CEO Andrew Toledo, recommended in-vitro fertilization (IVF), so they used their savings and took out a loan to pay for it.
"We ended up spending $30,000 from start to finish with our infertility process," said Amanda Winters.
But four years and two rounds of IVF later, they're still not pregnant.
"And you have to go through the grief process," Amanda Winters said. "You can't be in denial about it. There's days that I woke up and thought, 'I'm going to have to force myself to get through this.'"
The Winters have health insurance, but it doesn't cover fertility treatments. In fact, state law does not mandate insurers cover the treatments
Dr. Toledo said that without coverage, couples have to pay out of pocket. One round of IVF can cost $12,000 to $15,000.
"When they don't achieve a family, then it is devastating and they'll do all kinds of things to make that happen," Toledo said. "Unfortunately, I've had couples who have spent in the six figures, easily, doing the IVF therapy multiple times."
Amanda said that it's easy to overlook infertility as a medical issue until you're in it.
"It feels like, as an individual, it's your right to have a family," Amanda Winters said. "But us who are suffering from infertility, we don't have that same right, it's almost a privilege, at that point, because we have to be able to afford it."
The challenge is figuring out how far they can afford to go to have a baby.
"We're not giving up; we're just kind of in a holding pattern for now because of the financial aspect of it. We have to be financially responsible," Amanda Winters said. "Do I regret it? No. Do I wish it was different? Absolutely. I don't think anybody out there can put a price on family."
The Winters say they're considering all of their options, including embryo adoption. But they're also considering working with adoption agency and talking to the Georgia foster care system. Amanda says one way or another, they will have a family.
More info: Fertility Scorecard