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How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child?

If you are considering adoption as a way to grow your family, you are likely wondering: how long does adoption take?

Many different factors can affect the length of the adoption process, especially the type of adoption you choose. The two primary ways to adopt in the United States are through domestic infant adoption and foster care adoption. Each of these has different requirements and steps that must be taken, which you can learn more about below.

How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Baby?

Domestic infant adoption takes about a year on average, but this isn’t representative of all adoptions; some families might take a much longer time to complete an adoption, while others may go through the process very quickly. Below, you can find a breakdown of the steps of adoption process and how long they take.

Domestic Infant Adoption Process

While domestic infant adoption does not look identical for every family, most adoptions follow the same general process, and some steps in that process have a variable time frame. The main elements of adoption that can affect your time are:

  1. The home study – The home study ensures that your home and family are safe for a child, and it usually takes around 2-3 months. By collecting any documents and filling out any paperwork in a timely manner, you can ensure that the home study doesn’t take longer than necessary.
  2. Finding a match – After you have been officially cleared to adopt, it is time to wait to be selected by a birth mother. Some parents may experience a very long wait time, while others may hardly have to wait at all. Read the following to learn how you can reduce your adoption wait time.
  3. Placement and post-placement – Who you are matched with will also directly affect the length of adopting a baby, as you may be matched with a birth mother who is only a few months pregnant or a birth mother who is only a few days from giving birth.
  4. Finalization – A series of post-placement visits with a social worker, usually occurring once per month, are required before you can finalize your adoption. The time between placement and finalization is usually about six months.

Other Factors Affecting Time

Some of the steps of domestic adoption vary in time from family to family. Some of the factors that may cause a shorter or longer adoption time include:

  • Birth mother and child preferences – The more flexible you are in your adoption preferences, the more likely you are to be quickly matched because more birth mothers will view your information.
  • Advertising of your adoption professional – Some adoption professionals work with more birth mothers across a wider area, which could help you find a match more quickly.
  • Disrupted adoptions – Unfortunately, sometimes an expecting mother will begin pursuing an adoption but ultimately change her mind and decide to parent. If this happens, you will have to wait for another match.

How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child from Foster Care?

Hopeful parents can also grow their families by adopting from foster care. While many of the requirements are similar to domestic adoption requirements, the foster care adoption experience is different.

Generally speaking, it takes around six months to become an approved foster parent. From there, the time it takes to adopt from foster care can vary greatly because children in foster care do not always become available for adoption. Learn more about adoption from foster care below, and visit Adopt US Kids for additional information.

Foster Care Adoption Process

Foster care adoption can be done in two ways:

  • Adopting a foster child – When children in foster care cannot be reunified with their birth families, they become available for adoption.
  • Fostering to adopt – Hopeful families can choose to become foster parents, caring for children with the intention of adopting if they cannot return to their birth families.

Both types of foster care adoption follow the same general process. The steps that tend to vary in time include:

  1. Completion of training – All prospective foster parents must go through some form of training. Different foster care agencies may have different training requirements.
  2. The home study – The home study process for foster care adoption is generally the same as the process for domestic adoption. Once it is complete, you will be ready to be a foster parent.
  3. Waiting for placement – After you are cleared to foster parent, you could receive a child placement at any time. Depending on that child’s situation, he or she could be with you for an extended period of time or for just a day or two.
  4. Waiting for adoption opportunity – A child in your care may or may not become available for adoption. If he or she cannot return to the birth family, and other relatives aren’t viable options, the foster family is often next in line to receive the opportunity to adopt the foster child.

Factors Affecting Time

If you are hoping to pursue foster care adoption, any of the following elements can play a role in the length of the process:

  • Availability of children – The time it takes for you to receive a placement is largely based on need. If there are more children in need of homes, there is a greater chance you will receive a placement.
  • Reunification of child with birth family – If you are fostering to adopt, you must remember that the goal of foster care is always to return the child to the birth family. Because of this, you may receive several placements but wait a long time for an adoption opportunity.
  • Length of training – Different training programs require more hours, and different agencies might require more extensive training.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, every family’s adoption experience is different. Although many aspects of the process are up to chance, you can help your adoption go more quickly by filling out paperwork and completing any necessary training or background checks without delay; it also helps to be flexible in your preferences for the child you wish to adopt. Adoption times may be different for everyone, but with diligence and patience, you will be able to see your adoption dream come true.