Justine and Jeremy Hundley found themselves like the one in eight couples in the United States who have trouble getting and staying pregnant.
They had a son, Cannon (almost 8), but getting pregnant with baby number two wasn’t quite so easy.
The Hundleys’ struggles with secondary infertility took them through two rounds of IVF. After the first, Justine had an almost immediate miscarriage. Ten weeks into the second round came another.
Focused on expanding their family and determined to bounce back from their heartbreak, they dove into the process of adoption.
On April 8th of this year, they were present to witness the birth of their adopted daughter, Baylor Grace.
As they moved through the process of adopting Baylor, the Hundleys were in for another burst of joy: they found out that Justine was pregnant with a baby girl, due August 28th.
Here’s what Justine and her family have learned about the adoption process.
The paperwork alone is like taking on another job.
Justine: In order to adopt, first you’ll need to do a home study. Typically you can do this through your adoption agency. In fact, a lot of agencies require you to have the home study done through them. Before you sign up with an agency, you want to ask, “Do I need to do the home study through you?” Before you spend thousands on a home study, you want to know if you need to have one completed through your agency.
During the home study they’re doing fingerprints, background checks, financial checks, and they’re coming to the house. You’re getting drug tested and you’ll need letters of recommendation. Every state has different requirements, and if you plan on adopting out of state, you’ll have to make sure you’re in compliance with what that state requires. There is a lot of paperwork you’ll need to get together. I’d say I spent about 30 hours a week just compiling paperwork.
It’s interesting because we’ve had a child naturally, so we obviously didn’t need to do all of this stuff when we had our son. So to do all of this stuff now definitely gives me a whole new level of respect for adoptive parents because they’re doing so much just to bring a child home. It’s pretty amazing.
You need serious savings to move through the adoption process.
Justine: Finances are one of the biggest reasons that people don’t adopt, which breaks my heart because there are people that would make amazing parents that aren’t able to adopt.
I’d say you probably have to have between $45,000 and $50,000 to adopt, which shocks people.
A domestic infant is most expensive, but the national average is about $40,000 or $45,000, I believe.
There are a lot of other costs that come into play that you don’t necessarily factor in as well, like your travel, your home study, and your follow-up post-placement visits. However, there are grants and other resources that you can try to qualify for and agency fees can vary, so you can try to find an agency that fits your needs a little bit better.
The amount of information you find out about the expectant mother will vary.
Justine: To have a successful match, you need to have a yes from both the adoptive family and the expectant mother.
You’ll typically find out the age of the expectant mother, her medical history, and if she has other children.
Sometimes the information will be as specific as pregnancy cravings, but in other cases the information about her is very minimal. Based on the information you get, you can say, “Yes, I would like to move forward with presenting” or “No, I don’t feel comfortable presenting on this case.”
If you say yes, then the agency presents your family’s profile to the mom. If she then says yes as well, you’ve got a match.
You can go through the whole adoption process and not end up with the baby you were waiting on.
Justine: When you’re in the adoption process, I always tell people you have to keep open hands and an open heart.
The expectant mother has every legal and ethical right to change her mind if she feels empowered to parent, even up until the last second. So even at the hospital when she delivers, she can say, “I want to parent the baby” and she has every right to do that.
It’s a very unique situation.
There are key terms to learn prior to beginning the process.
Justine: The terminology has been really important to learn, so I know how to refer to everybody respectfully.
For example, she’s an expectant mom all the way through delivery, and then she’s a birth mom right after the rights relinquish.
If you’re anxious to adopt quickly, consider working with a consulting agency.
Justine: We went with a consulting agency, which has a relationship with adoption agencies across the nation.
They’ve got a much bigger reach and can match you in a shorter time. That’s an additional cost, but for us it was worth it. It’s really up to the adoptive family and what they’re looking for, but if you want a quicker match, consulting agencies tend to match quicker because their reach is much larger.
You can opt to have an involved relationship with the birth mother.
Justine: We wanted to have a relationship with the birth mother.
A lot of people are like, “Wow, you’re so brave. An open adoption scares me.”
To me, a closed adoption scares me.
What kind of questions will your child have that you won’t be able to answer? It’s going to be nice if there’s questions — I’ll come to her and we can do this together. Is it going to be hard? Absolutely. But, like everything hard, to me it’s worth it.
I don’t ever know a situation where more love isn’t better. This baby will know she’s loved by everybody.
If you’re looking for more information about adoption, Justine loves to support families going through the process. Find her on Instagram.