Common Questions: “How Long Does an Adoption Usually Take?”

By Julia Diamond
March 30, 2020

One of the most common questions that we get from families hoping to adopt is, “How long will this adoption take?” It’s an understandable question. Most hopeful adoptive parents have spent years trying to start their family. All they want is to finally hold this baby in their arms and to begin their next chapter in life.

But how long does an adoption truly take? Well, that’s a tough question to answer because every single situation is different. However, we tell our hopeful adoptive familiesthat they can expect to have their adoption complete within one year.

The reason we say a year is because hopeful adoptive families have a lot of work to do from the time they begin the initial paperwork to the time they bring a baby home. They need to complete a home studyand then complete an adoption profile, which both can take as little as several weeks or as long as several months. Once they are home study approved and their adoption profile is “live,” then families can begin to be shown to expectant parents. This is when the “waiting period,” starts and there is no telling how long it will take to be selected by an expectant parent.

In addition to the usual process, several circumstances could decrease your wait time in the long run. For example, you may experience shorter wait times if…

  • You choose to work with a national adoption agency, like Heart of Adoptions. National adoption agencies have larger advertising budgets and work with pregnant women in various states.
  • You are flexible and open to different adoption situations. These could include being flexible to the medical and substance abuse history of the parents, the race and gender of the baby, and the type of adoption (open, semi-open, closed). The more flexible you are, the more expectant mothers you are shown to – it’s as simple as that.
  • You have a higher budget. People who allocate more money to their adoption decrease their wait time because they can work with multiple agencies/attorneys and therefore have the ability to accommodate a broader range of situations.
  • You have dedicated time and effort into creating a unique and engaging adoption profile. Time and time again, adoptive families that have the most engaging profiles are the ones who are chosen by expectant parents first. Investing time, effort, and heart into your adoption profile and video will go a long way in reducing your overall wait time.

Even if you check all the boxes on shortening your wait time, you still may find yourself waiting for months to be matched. This wait time can be stressful and full of anxiety for some. But thankfully, we have some advice for hopeful adoptive parents. According to Meredith Shepard, the Adoptive Parent Coordinator at Heart of Adoptions, the best thing you can do during this time is “… to stay positive. I truly believe that when your baby is meant to come home, it’s going to happen.” She went on to explain that “no two adoption journeys are the same,” and that you should take this time to live in the moment. “Enjoy the journey and have a story to tell the child as they grow up.”

One way of enjoying the journey is by documenting it! Meredith said that she “loves telling people to start a journal. Families do pregnancy journals all the time, and adoptive families can do the same thing.” Not only could this journal be a keepsake for a child, but it’s something you could put on your digital profile to share your journey with birth mothers.

Meredith also suggests that taking your mind off the adoption process and putting it towards preparing yourself for parenting is a great way to ease the anxiety. “Buy the car seat, stock up on baby clothes, and read some of the books that are out there to help you prepare,” she said. But take some time for yourselves too. “Go on that trip you’ve always wanted to take and invest in your relationship. Adoption is hard. It’s important to use this time to stabilize your life.”

In the end, it’s all about finding peace in your situation and cherishing this time, as this will be a period of your lives that you’ll never forget. The adoption process can be stressful, and it can be very tough on families. However, you should always remember that the outcome will be totally worth it. There is nothing more joyful than welcoming a precious child into your hearts and your home.

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