How long does it take to Adopt?

Adoption can take nine months or less or the process can be dragged on
until you think you don’t even want to do it anymore.

Adoption can happen in a flash or it can take forever. On average adoption is reported to take anywhere from 3 months to 4 years. How is that true? The time it takes to adopt is dependent on a few things.

  • First, what type of adoption you choose can dictate how long your wait will be. For example, international versus domestic, there is a time difference there. International adoption involves at least two countries. That means, rules and guidelines from two governments and paperwork from two countries. If a country policy is only to allow 4,000 children to be released for inter-country adoption per year and there is a waiting list of over 20,000 applications from potential adoptive parents from various countries, you will have to get in line. That is the extreme example from one end of the spectrum of time and adoption.

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  • On the other hand, if a child’s birth parents rights have been terminated and the adoptive parents can finish the home study quickly, the time it takes to adopt is determined on how soon you can get on the court calendar to make it final. In some smaller counties in the U.S. that can be next week.  
  • Second, what you know before you proceed can also affect your timeline.  Just consider any other major endeavor you have embarked upon. Lack of information, unclear direction and steps needed, can hold up the process drastically. In “adoption world,” there is a lot of “How was I supposed to know, what I didn’t know?”  In the home study process it is important you are given a checklist and instructions on how to obtain documents needed to complete it. You may be at the whim of your adoption representatives’ organization or lack thereof.
  • Once you choose the type of adoption you want to proceed with, there should be a clear path to the goal. On that note, some eager parents will attempt to pursue multiple paths to adoption, sometimes becoming quickly overwhelmed affecting timelines in many ways.

    Knowing nothing about the world of adoption, BJ and Carolyn both began to search out information from family and friends. They met a wonderful couple in their neighborhood, who adopted domestically and brought home a child in five months! They were shocked to hear how short the wait time was for this family. Everything BJ and Carolyn heard about domestic adoption was that the wait time could be as long as five years. Full of excitement, they decided to start the adoption process for a domestic adoption.

Carolyn jumped every time the phone rang praying that it would be the agency calling  with a match. The home study and the “birth mother profile book” they were asked to prepare to show expectant birth mothers, took several weeks to complete. Once all the paperwork was finished, they eagerly sent in the information to the agency they chose in another state. Then, only after three weeks, they received a phone call that a birth mother had chosen their profile. After speaking with the birth mother on the phone two times prior to the birth, they flew to the state where the child was born, and three weeks later to meet their newborn son at the hospital. The entire process took BJ and Carolyn only six weeks from the time they submitted their home study and paperwork.

Watch the video series Adoption Discovery 101


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