Crowdfunding becoming popular means of fundraising for families

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Crowdfunding is becoming a growing trend on the internet for those trying to raise money for various causes. Fundraising websites allow users to setup pages to raise money for things like health emergencies and natural disaster recovery efforts.

Eyewitness News has learned that local couples struggling with infertility are also using these sites — to pay for the costs of starting a family.

Those who know Damien and Holly St. Pierre say it’s obvious how much the couple loves one another, and how much they’d love a child.

“I have that mommy bone in me,” Holly said. “And I’ve wanted to be a father for a while,” Damien added.

The two obviously have a lot of love to give — but their journey to parenthood has been a long, emotional, and costly one.

Unable to conceive, the couple attempted three rounds of in vitro fertilization with a surrogate — but lost the baby — a disappointment they’re reminded of as they continue to pay off the loan they took out to fund the treatment in the first place.

“Probably close to 30,000 dollars,” Holly said.

Now the couple has opted for adoption, and they have decided to make what they consider a very private matter, public.

“It feels weird asking for the public to help but I figure if the public helps on other pages, maybe they wouldn’t mind helping us,” Holly said.

Damien added, “even if it’s only a little, we kind of see it as worth it.”

To help cover the adoption agency and lawyer fees, the couple has launched a GoFundMe page to raise $6,000. They are also trying to save up on their own.

And the St. Pierre family is not the only one to use crowdfunding to start a family.

Since 2011, more than 38,000 pages have been set up for couples seeking IVF treatments or who are hoping to adopt. GoFundMe says $1.4 million has been raised for couples struggling with infertility. In return for web space, the site collects eight percent from each donation.

Robin and Felix Calderon of West Warwick say it’s the words of encouragement from family and friends that have kept them going in their eight year struggle to conceive. The couple has already spend $8,000 and now they’re hoping to raise $3,500 for fertility medications.

“There’s positive feedback — lots of good vibes and people just wishing you well and making you feel like this is a possibility,” Robin said.

For the St. Pierre family, the day they are matched up with a birth mother through their adoption agency will be a great one. In the meantime, they hope people will be inspired by their story and want to give to their cause.

“Its a means to an end to try to help us start a family,” Damien said.

Rhode Island law requires insurers to cover at least part of the costs of fertility treatment. If you are thinking of donating to a page, GoFundMe says you should know that there is no way to guarantee that your donation will be used for the cause you designated it for. You should only donate to people you know personally and trust.

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