There is no easy way to know exactly how long the adoption
process may take. Every adoption situation is unique and come with many
variables that will determine the length of time it will take to physically
bring a baby or child home.
With all adoptions (domestic, international, or foster), a
home study must be completed by a licensed agency. A home study entails an in
depth look at all aspects of the physical, emotional, and financial portion
that comprise a family. The agency will dive into background checks, financial
stability, medical records, as well as inspect physical home premises. Each
area takes time to be completed. Background checks are at the mercy of the
states in which they are applied for. Medical appointments are dependent on
typical doctor office availability. The house portion of the home study
typically are done in 2 or 3 days over a several week period, but can be done
in shorter time depending on the agency or person doing the study. In short, the home study can take place over
several weeks or be expedited to be done in just days (for an additional fee).
Once all paperwork is in order and signed by the perspective
adoptive parents and the agency certifying that they have met all requirements
to be considered adopt, the waiting for a match begins. While the paperwork
portion is technical, this part of the process has so much variety.
Essentially, perspective adoptive parents are waiting to be matched with a
perspective birth mother who may or may not have already given birth to her
child. It can take days or years for this match to occur.
After the match is made and an adoption plan is in place,
there are a few more things that need to occur to bring the adoption to
finalization. Once the birth mother places the child with the adoptive family,
there is usually a period of time called the revocation period in which the
birth mother (or father) can revoke the adoption plan, have her parental rights
reinstated, and decide to parent the child. This time frame varies from state
to state and is not necessarily a part of every adoption. In the case of our
first adoption, the birth mother’s parental rights were already terminated when
we met our son, thus removing the stress of the wait period. With our second
son, we had to wait ten days for the birth father’s rights to be terminated.
Prior to either of our children, we were part of a disrupted adoption where the
birth mother changed her mind on day seven of the ten day revocation period and
decided to parent. As you can see the
revocation period varies per state and per adoption.
At the completion of the revocation period, there are usually
3 post-adoption home visits taking place over 6-9 months to verify the
well-being of the adopted child. Once this is done “paperwork ping pong”
begins. The adoption paperwork is sent back and forth between a judge and the
adoption agency or adoption lawyer. In some states, the adoptive family and the
adopted child must appear before the judge to make the adoption final. Some
states allow the lawyer to stand in for the adoptive family, and some states don’t
require a physical courtroom presence at all. Whatever the requirements are, at
the end of this “legal-ease” portion, the adoption a final and a “final order
of adoption” is issued.
Unfortunately, there is no exact time frame. Just like every
pregnancy is different, so is every adoption. Depending on how you plan on adopting
will also depend on your timeframe.
For a domestic adoption, the process can take anywhere from
6 months to 6 years. I only say 6 years because we waited 6 years to be matched
with our son’s birth mom. In initial paperwork, background check, home study
and just being ready to be looked at took approximately 6 months. Again, a lot
of this will depend on your agency and your state’s requirements. For us, the paperwork
wasn’t the hardest part, it was creating a portfolio for the birth moms to look
at that took the most time.
For international adoption, the process can take even
longer. You usually are not waiting for a birth mom to pick you, but the overall
process usually takes longer. You will be required to fill out a lot of the same
paperwork but also a little more paperwork for international adoptions. Most
countries will also require you to stay in their country for a specific amount
of time. This also means if you do not have a passport, you will be required to
obtain one, which can also take time.
The best advice I can give you is to be patient. I know it
sounds easier said than done but it is worth it in the end! Make sure to check
with your local adoption agency to help you choose what adoption is right for
If you would like more information about the international
adoption process check it out here.
For more information on the domestic adoption process check
it out here.