How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child? Why Adoption Takes So Long

Adopting a child is a special time, yet the entire adoption process can seem like an eternity. Which leads one to ask themselves, how long does it take to adopt a child?

Adoption takes between 6 months to 1 year after the placement of the child to become finalized. In-home visits take place during this time to observe the adjustment process. A hearing to finalize the adoption is then scheduled, after which, the child is officially and legally yours.

You waited so long to meet your child, but when will the wait finally end?

It is wonderful to be able to see, touch, and connect with your child, and it is natural to want the adoption process to be over with so you can carry on with your life without your big brother looking over your shoulders.

The legal process is understandable and necessary, but there comes a time when you just want the process to be over so you can move on with your new life.

Young lady sitting in between two small children smiling into the camera.

Getting Through the Long Adoption Process

Before we dive into why the adoption process takes so long, let’s go over some helpful tips on getting through the long adoption process.

How to Cope with the Long Adoption Process

  • Practice your patience
  • Stay busy so time seems to go by faster
  • Revisit your finances
  • Practice open communication with your family or partner
  • Join an adoption support group

For the future adopter, the wait can be the hardest part of the entire adoption process.

There are some things you can do to distract yourself during this waiting process. Maintaining a positive attitude is by far the best advice I can offer you.

Overthinking during this time of wait can cause future adoptive parents to exacerbate their fears and doubts, creating a vicious cycle of worry.

Constantly thinking about adopting a child can be referred to as adoption obsession. This is very typical of an adoptive parent that is new to the idea of adopting a child.

With that said, it is not unheard of for adoptive parents who are not new to the process to suffer this same obsession.

Although putting a lot of time and thought into your adoption process venture is healthy and will help you become more educated, you do not want this obsession to get out of control!

You may find it helpful to reach out to other adoptive parents who have experienced the same things that you are going through to share your thoughts, concerns, and excitement.

What a wonderful way to get first-hand input that may hopefully help you along your adoption journey. Find others who have had feelings and experiences similar to your own to talk with. 

This is especially important if you have decided to adopt as a single parent. There is value in having others to talk to that have gone through or are going through the same experiences. 

We do not need a partner by our side to raise a happy, healthy child; but a human connection with others you can relate to can be a valuable experience!

Although the internet is full of amazing adoption resources, I recommend not overlooking the value of curling up with a good book about parenting and adoption.

Just be careful, as some authors have their own opinions about adoption and might not share your mindset. Read the online reviews before you decide which books would likely be a good fit for you.

Amazon can be a wonderful resource for both eBooks as well as old-fashioned hardcopy.

This may also be a good time to keep that line of communication open with your partner if you will be co-parenting an adopted child. 

Be mindful of each other’s concerns, fears, and make sure to validate your partner’s thoughts by simply being a good listener and void of judgment. 

The wait time can be difficult for both of you, and sharing your thoughts rather than bottling them up will help with healthy communication.

Did you know there are different types of adoption? Learn about why open adoptions are the most popular type of adoption today.

Why Does Adoption Take So Long?

There are so many adoption processes and requirements that need to be met before adoption can be finalized. Still, why does adoption take so long?

The adoption process is long due to all of the many requirements that must be met. The initial home study will take 3 to 6 months. You will wait to be matched up with a child that is a good fit for you. An additional wait time of up to 1 year after placement occurs to observe the adjustment period.

Other things must occur before finalizing an adoption

  • Birth Parent’s Rights are terminated: The legal termination of both birth parents must happen before the adoption can proceed to the next step and is done in court by a judge. Once this has been done, the process can continue.
  • ICPC Clearance: ICPS (Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) mandates must be adhered to if a child is crossing a state line into another state. The ICPS agency helps to ensure the adoption has followed all legal processes, and that the child will be placed in a safe environment.
  • ICWA Clearance: ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) is a federal law on behalf of the Native American Indian tribes and families to help preserve tribe recognition for the adopted Native American child.
  • Post-Placement Visits: Post-placement contact and visits vary between states, but typically involve two to six in-home visits after the adoption placement. These visits are most often done by the social worker that you have already become familiar with during your previous home study classes and are done to ensure the child is adjusting to his or her new family.
  • The Hearing to Finalize the Adoption: This is where it gets to the best part! You are about to head into a court hearing to change your and your adopted child’s life forever.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the adjustment period is going, it is important to share those concerns with your social worker so he or she may help you.

All you want to do is love and care for a child who needs you. Why then is adoption so expensive?

The Adoption Hearing to Finalize the Adoption

This is the day you have been waiting for!

Grab your family and friends and head to your scheduled hearing, because this is the day you get to celebrate the finalization of your adoption.

Your adoption liaison will advise you of the date on which this finalization hearing takes place.

This hearing signifies the end of the lengthy adoption process. You have jumped through all of the hoops, dotted all your i’s, and crossed all your t’s.

You have had an extra set of eyes watching you, which may at times have felt a bit intrusive. Even though we understand and welcome the process, it is still never comfortable opening up your home when you feel judged and watched.

During the hearing, you will be met by your attorney, perhaps your social worker, and any of your family and friends that you may have invited to participate in your special day.

The judge will likely ask you a few questions about your motivations for adopting a child and ask you to share a little bit about yourself.

Once the judge has gone over your adoption paperwork and asked any further questions, he or she will sign off on your adoption, making it final!

Your attorney will help you with the process of applying for a new birth certificate and social security card for your child, as your newly adopted child is now legally yours.

Your hearing will last no more than maybe 30 to 60 minutes, and most courts are welcoming of your bringing your family and friends, as they understand this is a big day for not only yourself but your child.

Finally, you have the child you have longed for, and your child has a new beginning with a new family that will love and care for them.

It’s probably no mystery that adoption attorneys assist with the adoption process. But what exactly do adoption attorneys do?

Is There a Way to Speed Up the Adoption Process?

Speeding up the adoption process can happen by becoming familiar with the adoption requirements. The home study process generally takes the longest, yet when you are aware of what requirements you will need to meet before you even start the adoption process, you will be ahead of the game.

What Is Adoption Home Study?

 A home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents. A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even where it is not legally needed, an adoption agency may require it.

How Long Does Adoption Home Study Take?

The average home study takes approximately 90 days to complete, based on when your adoption agency has received all the documentation and all requirements are met. The time it takes to perform your home study will be determined by a number of things.

These factors include the kind of adoption you pick and how soon you finish your home study provider’s needed documentation.

Most of us know what adoption is, but did you know there are different types of adoption? Read our full adoption resource here.

What Can You Do to Speed Up the Adoption Home Study Process?

To prepare for your adoption home study, you will want to be proactive in making sure your home meets all requirements both inside and outside of your home.

Have all required documents ready to provide, and rehearse how you will answer any questions you will be asked.

Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.