A simple question with a long answer. Because people often explore adoption after years of infertility, they are very interested in knowing how long it will take to finally become parents. So what is the answer to ” How long does it take to adopt a child ?” Well, there will be many factors in wait time, the biggest being what type of adoption you choose. International adoptions generally take longer. Domestic infant adoption through an agency can take as little as months or as long as years. Those wait times are in addition to several months, if not an entire year, of paperwork to be an approved family.

We chose domestic infant adoption. Our adoption paperwork, meetings, and trainings to become an approved family for our agency’s pool lasted about a year total. We were then told we’d probably wait three years for our baby. We got lucky; however, and our baby was born six months later. If their original estimate was correct, between paperwork year and waiting time, it would have been four years.

Many agencies will give an average wait time but make no promises. This is a good thing. If you find an agency guaranteeing a placement within a certain amount of time, it’s a red flag. Check your contract before you sign it. There should be no time limit in the contract, or if there is, there should be a way to get money back. We refused to sign a contract with one adoption agency because it stated something like, “we will help match you with a birth mother for a period of two years…” and that was it–end of service and out of luck if not matched.

How long does it take to adopt a child

If you’re interested in the foster care system, which has significantly lower costs, you may be matched with an older child. The aim of foster care is to keep the child in a safe place and attempt reunification with the birth family. While you are fostering a child, if reunification with the birth family is deemed not possible, then that child will become free for adoption and you can become their forever family. This timeline will vary but can be put in the “year or two” range.

International adoption wait times depend on the country but tends to fall into the “years” range. Some countries require more than one visit from the prospective adoptive parents as well. Wait time can also increase as different countries change their adoption laws. Some have outright banned adoptions, which leaves waiting couples with no choice but to start over.

The most common thing I hear from people is how adoption seems like a lot of “hurry up and wait.” I’d have to agree. You hustle to get through the initial paperwork and meetings, but after that it’s out of your hands. The most important wait time, in my humble opinion, is how far along the expectant mother is at the time you are matched. We were matched and had about two months until placement. There are stories; however, of couples who wait a year and suddenly get a call that an expectant mother is in labor that very moment and are asked to fly out the next day!

My best answer to “ How long does it take to adopt a child ?” is “years-ish.” Have patience, do what you can on your end, and then stay productive and sane while you wait.

If you are interested in beginning an adoption profile, visit adoption.com/profiles.

Written by Kristin Anderson