As you begin your adoption journey, it’s normal to wonder how long it will take to adopt a baby. The wait can be frustrating when you are eager to grow your family. How long does the adoption process take? Since every adoption is unique, the details of the birth mother’s life and your circumstances will impact the length of the adoption process.
Although some factors that impact how long the adoption process takes will be out of your control, there are plenty of ways you can help speed things along. This guide will prepare you for the parts of the adoption process you can control. Your perseverance can help you avoid unnecessary delays.
Your Adoption Home Study
The home study is a mandated part of the adoption process in every state. This report ensures that adoption professionals conduct adoptions responsibly. During the adoption home study, you will complete an application, gather documents, complete paperwork, participate in interviews with a social worker, and schedule a home inspection.
You might wonder, “How long does the adoption home study take to finalize?” The entire process takes three to six months, depending on how quickly you complete the necessary tasks and how busy your social worker is.
Your home study is one area of your adoption where you have the power to quicken the pace. Here’s what you can do to expedite your home study:
1. Ensure you’re both dedicated to the process
If you’re adopting as a couple, it’s important for both of you to be dedicated to your adoption process. A home study provider aims to place children in loving, welcoming homes.
However, it can strain family dynamics when one spouse is more committed than the other. If only one spouse dedicates themselves to completing the necessary paperwork and scheduling appointments, we’ve found that the other tends to procrastinate these tasks.
2. Gather a list of the needed documents
Some of the required documents for your home study might take extra time to obtain. For this reason, we recommend that you begin working on those documents first.
For example, you’ll need to gather copies of your marriage and birth certificates. If you don’t have these documents on hand, it may take a while to request copies of these from the appropriate government departments. In addition, some documents will require notarizations, such as your financial statement.
Because requirements vary by state, you’ll need to ask your home study provider which documents are required. Make sure to confirm with them which documents are necessary to supply for your home study.
3. Schedule appointments without delay
In most states, the home study process involves meeting with a medical professional to address health concerns. You’ll need to submit a signed physician’s statement about your health.
In addition, your provider will require you to submit fingerprints. To do so, you’ll need to schedule a visit to an authorized authority. To prevent these appointments from becoming a bottleneck in finishing your home study, schedule them as soon as possible.
4. Complete paperwork online
As the Internet continues to improve efficiency, more and more home study providers are accepting home study applications via e-forms. You may be able to finish your paperwork within a week if you can complete it online. Hopeful parents who complete paper forms typically take a few weeks to finish.
5. Give your references a heads-up
Home study applications usually require reference letters from family and friends, testifying to your character. We recommend choosing your references early on in the home study process because it’ll take time to get the reference letters returned.
After choosing your references, let them know they’ll receive a reference request. Kindly ask them to submit it as quickly as possible because missing reference letters are often the last hold-up to completing a home study.
6. Reserve time to work on your application
Try to set aside some time in your schedule to complete your home study application. The questions on the application should be pretty straightforward, so it’s just a matter of making the time to do this. Try setting aside a couple of hours daily to progress through the application.
7. Check for safety hazards
After completing the paperwork, the next step in the home study process is to schedule a home visit. During this visit, your home study provider will also interview everyone currently living in your home.
Although your social worker will allow you to fix any potential safety hazards before finishing their report, addressing them before their first visit will expedite the overall process.
Your Adoption Profile
While you wait for the social worker to complete your adoption home study, you can work on your online adoption profile and video. Your adoption profile is your introduction to potential birth mothers, so you want to make an excellent first impression. Your profile will give birth mothers a snapshot of your family’s values and lifestyle so they can picture their child’s future with you.
Your profile is another area where you have control over how long the adoption process takes. The sooner you finish your profile, the faster your adoption agency can make you available to potential birth mothers.
Use pictures, text, and video to create a high-quality adoption profile. Be authentic and honest about who you are, what kind of parents you hope to be, and your vision for life as an adoptive family. The more birth mothers who browse your profile, the better your chances of finding that perfect match!
The adoption professionals at Lifetime will help you develop a profile and adoption video that best showcases what you have to offer a child.
Your Adoption Preferences
The amount of time your adoption process takes mostly depends on your preferences. Typically, the more open your preferences are, the quicker you will adopt.
Search your heart and talk to other adoptive parents about their experiences. You may find that you are open to more possibilities than you originally thought. Your adoption professional and potential birth mothers will need to know your preferences for an adoption plan and the child who will best fit your family.
Type of Adoption – Most birth mothers are interested in an open adoption plan that includes updates and some form of future contact with their child. Be honest with your adoption professional about the commitment you are willing to make.
The Child – How important is the age, gender, or race of your child? The more flexible an adoptive couple’s preferences are, the more exposure they will have to expectant mothers. This increased exposure will help reduce their adoption process length, on average.
As an example, if an adoptive couple is only open to adopting a Caucasian baby, they will only be seen by a smaller number of birth mothers. If another couple is open to a baby of Caucasian, Hispanic, and Caucasian/Hispanic backgrounds, their adoption agency could show their profile to more expectant mothers because their preferences would match.
Talk to your adoption professional about your preferences for the following:
- Twins and sibling groups
- Substance exposure
- Birth mother expenses
The state of your finances can impact how long your adoption process takes. Speak with your adoption professional and research the costs ahead of time. Don’t be caught off guard by any of the following expenses that can delay the adoption process:
- Home study fees
- Birth mother expenses
- Legal expenses
- Travel costs
You might opt to work with a financial advisor and have an adoption budget in place. You can also seek financial assistance for your adoption through loans, grants, crowdfunding, employer-provided adoption assistance, and the adoption tax credit. This aid can help you avoid any financial speed bumps.
Through Lifetime Adoption, the birth mother chooses the adoptive parents for her baby. Many factors can affect your wait time, including your adoption preferences – families with broader preferences will be presented to more expecting mothers and, therefore, have more opportunities for a birth mother to choose them. As a result, it’s impossible to guess how long it will take until you adopt.
Some families have had a birth mother choose them within a few months; others may take two years and sometimes even more. Our goal is that adoptive families are ready to say “yes!” and move forward when presented with an adoption opportunity. When you choose Lifetime Adoption, we’ll provide honest and transparent information about what to expect, suggest best practices, and provide recommendations through our exclusive membership website and monthly educational webinars.
Focus on What You Can Control
As I shared above, there are many steps hopeful adoptive parents can take to help limit how long the process takes. The best thing you can do is focus on what you can control. Be honest about your preferences and have realistic expectations for how long your adoption process will take.
However, all couples must understand that no matter what they do, they will still have an unpredictable wait. Adoption is a matter of the heart, so the process will always be unpredictable. Birth mothers have their own reasons for choosing a family, and their priorities may change along the way.
It’s best to spend your time trying not to worry if your wait takes longer than expected. When the joyous day arrives to welcome a new child into your family, the wait will have been worth it!
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an adoption professional to learn more about starting your family, call 727-493-0933.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on July 8, 2020, and has since been updated.
Founder of Lifetime Adoption, adoptive mom, adoption expert, and Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P).
Since 1986, adoption expert Mardie Caldwell has been dedicated to bringing couples and birth parents together in order to fulfill their dreams.
“Many years ago, I was also searching for a child to adopt. We didn’t know where or how to get started. Through research, determination, and a prayer, our dream of a family became reality. I started with a plan, a notebook, assistance from a caring adoption consultant and a lot of hard work; this was my family I was building. We had a few heartaches along the way, but the pain of not having children was worse!
Within weeks we had three different birth mothers choose us. We were overwhelmed and delighted. Many unsettling events would take place before our adoption would be finalized, many months later. Little did I know that God was training and aligning me for the adoption work I now do today. It is my goal to share with our families the methods and plans which succeed and do not succeed. I believe adoption should be affordable and can be a wonderful “pregnancy” for the adoptive couple.
I have also been on both sides of infertility with the loss of seven pregnancies and then conceiving by new technology, giving birth to a healthy daughter. I have experienced first-hand the emotional pain of infertility and believe my experience allows me to serve your needs better.
It is my hope that for you, the prospective parents, your desire for a child will be fulfilled soon.”