The adoption process can take an incredibly long time, which can cause serious strain and stress for some families. Usually, the time it takes to adopt a baby can be anywhere from several months to a year or more, and the wait time can be even longer to adopt a child through international adoptions. Though long wait times may be necessary for some adoptions, many families wish to find ways to reduce these long waits in any way that they can. There are a wide variety of reasons why wait times may vary from adoption to adoption, and this includes the personal preferences of the Adopting Parents. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize adoption wait times that can help you adopt a child grow your family sooner rather than later. Other reasons may include financial funds. Typically, if allowed by state law, Birth Mothers require financial assistance during their adoption journey. Having funds set aside beforehand, as allowed by state law, for these expenses may help speed up the preparedness of the Adoptive Family.
Why Adoption can Take so Long
In both domestic and international adoptions, average wait times for adopting a child can range from a few months to over years. A lot goes into adoption, and there are often very stringent requirements set in place by the government, as well as adoption agencies and professionals, in different states and countries. Your adoption wait time could be lower or higher depending upon where you adopt from, and the type of adoption you opt for can play a part in the wait time as well. For example, if you decide to adopt a child from outside of the country, you will have to follow not only your home country’s adoption rules, but also the rules of adoption in your child’s home country. With the combination or requirements, rules, and stipulations, waiting for your child can become a long process.
What you can do to reduce the Wait Time
There may be certain factors that help minimize adoption wait times. Your adoption preferences will play a major factor in your wait time. The stricter your adoption plan and preferences, the longer the wait time can be. Some families find that having a rigid adoption plan is best for ensuring that everything runs smoothly when trying to adopt a baby. Such rigid plans, however, leave little room for any changes that can actually bring your child to you sooner. The best thing to do if you want a shorter wait to is to have plenty of flexibility in both your plan and the various factors associated with adoption. These include:
• Race: As Adopting Parents, you may have preferences in the race/ethnicity of the child you would like to adopt. When you are open to adopting a child of a different race/ethnicity, your profiles will be seen by more Birth Parents, which may help in minimizing your wait time.
• Gender: Those who approach adoption with a certain child in mind may think they’ll make their adoption process go faster, but it can actually slow things down. Wanting a boy or a girl can affect wait times depending upon age, availability, health, and other factors depending upon where the child is being adopted from.
• Budget: Adoption can get pricey, and though there are grants and loans available for adoptive families, sometimes the budget just isn’t what it needs to be. Your budget can get a major say in when you adopt, who you adopt, and how you adopt, so it’s important to be as financially prepared as possible. This means being open to taking out loans and applying for grants, as well as other financial resources and avenues.
• Contact with Birth Parents: Whether you choose an open or closed adoption can impact your wait time as well. It is difficult to say which choice is shorter, as each come with their own advantages and disadvantages. This factor relies heavily on the child that is placed with you and the relationship you hold with the Birth Parents. Today, most adoptions are open or semi open in which the Birth Mother may receive photos and/or update about the child, and, in some cases, may even visit.
While adoption wait times can be long, you don’t have to suffer and wait forever. Try to be open, flexible, and ready for anything when looking to minimize wait times. By doing so, you can find ways to be more open to the many diverse options. Sometimes, the wait time can be dramatically affected by your own personal desires and wants in your adoption plan. Take a look and reevaluate what is important to you in your adoption preferences and talk with your adoption professional for guidance. It may be that the perfect child for your family is one that you never expected. In every case, any child is a miracle of life and a blessing, and he/she will certainly find a home in your arms if you surround it with love.
Things You Need to Know Before Starting the Adoption Process
Even though our hearts were broke open initially, in the end, faith and adoption brought us our Noah. If you’re considering adoption, here is what I think you should know.
1. Be patient
This was probably the hardest part for me. I’m normally not a patient person, and diving into unknown territory where I had little control was daunting, to say the least. The waiting and the uncertainty were challenging for both of us, and there were so many days I just wanted to quit. It’s not easy staying patient through a process like this, but it is something you have to learn to be. There is a lot of back and forth with lawyers, courts, agencies, birth parents…and with all of that, comes a lot of waiting.
2. Decide on an agency or lawyer
Adopting through a lawyer is different than with an agency. When we made the decision to adopt through a lawyer, we did it because we felt agencies had too many rules. One agency we looked at had a requirement where we would have to meet with the birth parents two times per year. We were more interested in a semi-open adoption, so we decided to go through a lawyer. We found that adopting through a lawyer offered us more privacy in the whole process, which felt really right for us. Everyone’s needs and wants are different. Be sure to research which route makes sense for you.
3. Decide on a closed or open adoption
This is something you really need to understand before moving forward. Make sure you are clear on what an open adoption means and if you are willing to work for that for you and your family. Ask yourself: do I want to have an ongoing relationship with the birthparents despite their circumstances? Does it feel important to us to maintain this relationship? Is this something we are willing to commit to? Whichever way you decide to go is up to you, but a commitment is a commitment and is often hard to change retroactively. Being clear on what you’d like your path to look like going forward can help prevent any future issues regarding visits or involvement.
4. Prepare your paperwork
I can’t stress this part enough: if you want the process to move as fast and smooth as possible, then make sure your paperwork is in order. If you know the forms that your agency or lawyer require, make sure you get those filled out as soon as you can. This way, you can have things ready as they are requested. We were almost always ahead of our game when it came to paperwork. My husband was always very diligent in filing everything out, and I was diligent about handing it all in on time. I honestly feel that our adoption process would’ve dragged out longer if we weren’t as quick with delivering the needed documentation. So, if you can get it, do it ASAP.
5. Talk to other adoptive parents
One of the best things we did was talk to other adoptive parents about their decisions and experiences. Doing this really gave us a good idea of the whole process—the good and the potentially tough. You can ask your lawyer or agency if you can talk to any adoptive parents they’ve worked with. Many are open to speaking with potential adoptive parents to share experiences.
6. Get your finances in order
Adoption can be very expensive, so it’s important to figure out how you’ll pay for it so that you don’t run into financial hardship (which could delay the whole process). We managed to save up a good amount by opening an account that was solely for the adoption where we would put a portion of our earnings there during every pay period.
7. Be hopeful
When we have something to look forward to, we feel alive and hopeful. I knew there would be some bumpy roads throughout this journey, so when I was feeling discouraged, I would purchase some books or a stuffed animal as a reminder that our child would be here with us one day. There are several ups and downs with adoption. During the downtimes, I would look at the books or stuffed animals and believe that our child would hold these in his hands one day.
8. Get on the same page with your partner
When you are going through an adoption journey, you will be facing lots of challenges to get to that baby. It’s imperative that both partners are in agreement with the goal, and you will need to lean each other to get there. Thankfully, my husband and I were both on board when it came to adopting. We made a decision to adopt and removed all the other options from the table. So, being on the same page will make you feel good about every step you take toward that child.
9. Consider the child you want
Before even starting, we spoke about what kind of child we wanted: a boy or girl, what ethnic background, and whether we wanted a domestic or overseas adoption. These were all decisions we had to make throughout the process. We decided adopting domestically would be the best fit for us due to travel requirements with overseas adoptions. Many other couples feel a strong pull to adopt internationally. Either way, it’s important to talk through all of this with your partner and then learn about the policies and laws surrounding the different types of adoptions you’re seeking. Familiarizing yourself with foreign laws in the countries you’re interested in adopting from can also make you aware of any potential halts that could arise through the process.
How Long Does It Take To Adopt A Child?
There’s not a single definitive answer. Every adoption process is unique. Your circumstances, the details of the prospective birth mother’s life and the adoption agency you work with will all come together to create your adoption journey.
That may seem vague. Unfortunately, reality is vague in this area. But, there are some things you can look out for that will impact the length of the adoption process. These are factors relating to the adoption agency you work with. While the agency is only one-third of the equation, it can have an outsized impact on how long it takes to adopt a baby, for better or for worse. That’s why one of your biggest reasons for selecting a particular adoption professional should be how long it will take for you to adopt a child with them.
Understanding the Adoption Process
When most people ask how long it takes to adopt a child, they’re thinking of the dreaded “wait time” before your adoption specialist calls to tell you that an adoption opportunity has come up. We’ll get into detail about that in just a minute. First, you should understand that there are other parts of the process that will affect how long it takes. Before you become an “active family” waiting for an adoption opportunity, you will have to complete the home study, create an adoptive family profile and work with your adoption specialist to meet any other requirements. This can take several months or more, depending on the agency you work with and how prepared you are to adopt. Then, after you have accepted an adoption opportunity, there’s still a ways to go. In domestic infant adoptions, you will have to wait until the baby is born, and then another six months (on average) to complete post-placement visits and finalization. The adoption process takes many steps to complete, and the length of the whole thing, from start to finish, can vary. This is important to understand before discussing the most challenging step in the process. Once you become an active family, waiting for that phone call is really hard. You want it to happen as quickly as possible.
Here are the four biggest factors in determining your wait time to be selected by a prospective birth mother:
1. Advertising Budget
As an adoptive family, you will work with an agency to create a family profile that is shown to prospective birth mothers. The time between completing your profile and being selected by a prospective birth mother can be the most challenging wait. The way your agency gets your profile out there, which is called “advertising” in adoption, will affect the length of the adoption process. Advertising is the most important contributing factor in an adoption professional’s average adoption wait times. The more money spent on advertising per adoptive family, the more exposure they will have to prospective birth parents.
Each agency operates differently in this area. Utah Adoptions places a high value on adoption advertising. We are a national adoption agency, which means we work across the country to find the best adoption opportunity for you. This nationwide scope, combined with our large investment in advertising, tends to create a shorter wait time for our adoptive families. Other adoption professionals do not work nearly as hard on their advertising efforts. They do this to cut costs and present families with a lower overall cost of adoption. It’s up to each family to decide if that lower cost is worth a much longer average length of time for the adoption process, which is the most likely result with a low advertising budget.
2. Number of Active Adoptive Families
Another factor in determining how long it takes to adopt a child is the number of active adoptive families compared to the total number of adoptions a professional completes annually.
Adoption Professional A has 100 active adoptive families and completes 100 adoptions per year, giving them a ratio of 1:1.
Adoption Professional B has 200 active adoptive families and completes 50 adoptions per year, giving them a ratio of 4:1.
Therefore, Adoption Professional A monitors their completed adoptions with the number of adoptive families they let join, while Adoption Professional B lets in four adoptive families for every one adoption they complete.
From this example, Adoption Professional A would be a better choice for a prospective adoptive family concerned about a long average length of adoption process.
3. Your Adoption Plan
The more flexible a family’s adoption plan, the more exposure they will have with expectant mothers, which will help reduce their adoption process length, on average.
For example, if a family is only open to adopting a Caucasian child, their exposure will be limited to a smaller number of prospective birth mothers. If another family is open to children of Caucasian, Caucasian/Hispanic and Hispanic backgrounds, their adoption professional would be able to show their profile to more women looking for an adoptive family. If you have certain preferences in your adoption plan, it is important to discuss these with any adoption professional you are interested in, as these preferences could dramatically affect how long it takes to adopt.
4. Understand You Can Only Do So Much
As stated in the previous three principles, there are many steps an adoptive family can take to help limit how long adoption takes. However, all families must understand that no matter what they do, their wait will still be unpredictable. Birth mothers choose certain adoptive families for numerous reasons, from the way the adoptive father may remind her of her own father, to the fact that the adoptive family already has children and she wants her child to have older siblings. The reasons certain families are chosen ahead of others are unique to each birth mother. Adoptive families should go into the adoption process knowing that their wait is somewhat unpredictable, even when working with an agency that uses best practices to shorten how long it takes to adopt a child. It’s best to spend your time trying not to worry if their wait takes a little longer than expected.
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