Listen UpAt two years old Rafael was removed from his family due to parental negligence, and was raised in the Illinois foster system until his 18th birthday. That was also the same year he met his wife of now, 24 years. From the start Rafael was excited to start a family of his own since Rafael did not have one growing up. At one point in their family building efforts, the couple believed they likely miscarried. For several years both Rafael and his wife felt like all they did was hope and wish for a family of their own, which never seemed to happen.

Seven years ago, Rafael and his wife first visited a RE where they soon discovered null results in Rafael’s semen analysis. His urologist conducted a biopsy and found zero sperm. It was then that his provider advised the couple that they would need to either use a donor sperm or do TESE. They also discovered that Rafael diagnosis a rare, incurable disease called Sertoli-cell-only (SCO) syndrome. They chose to use a donor and attempted several IUIs and ventured overseas twice, for IVF cycles to help reduce their out of pocket cost.

As each holiday passes it remains difficult as time moves forward and generations of family’s rise around us. This has been a heartbreaking faith testing experience with no end. God said “be fruitful and multiply” and we have been and remain childless. It hurts that much more to see undeserving parents be blessed with a child and neglect them. Not a day passes without some type of reminder of incurable disease. It remains difficult when people constantly speak of how easy we got it because we have no kids. If only they knew the struggle of having to make payments for something that should happen naturally along with the feeling you will never be complete.

As of last year, not giving up hope, the couple decided to see if an endocrinologist could be of any help. The treatment provided by Rafael’s urologist helped provide more energy by raising testosterone levels. Sadly, after taking medication for nearly 8 months, it was not successful in creating a sperm count. They continue to keep hope alive and share their story during NIAW.

Rafael M., IN