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Why does adoption take so long?

Adoptions time lines are often unpredictable
Adoptions time lines are often unpredictable
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Families who are going through the adoption process will likely say the most common question they get during the process is, "So, when will it be over?"

The answer to that question can be difficult for parents because in both domestic and international adoptions there is likely no predictable time frame.

For domestic adoptions, the process can end up being extremely fast or can also be a process that lasts several years. This is mostly due to the fact that most Americans seeking adoption are looking to adopt infants, which in most cases means a birth mother is selecting them from a group of potential adoptive parent(s) profiles. Depending on the situation, and what she is looking for, a birth mother may select a profile right away, or it may take several months or perhaps even years for potential parent(s) to be selected.

For international adoptions, the time frames vary based on the country selected. For example, time lines in an Ethiopia program last from about 12-24 months from start to finish, whereas an adoption through a China program can sometimes take more than three years to be processed. This has to do with the adoption laws and policies in that country.  Also, changes in those laws and policies can abruptly change a time line, sometimes without much notice.

For both domestic and international adoptions, time frames can be expedited in cases of adopting older children, foster situations or for special needs adoptions.

Related Articles:

Why do families choose adoption?

Should you adopt? Realities to consider


  • GR Examiner 5 years ago

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