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The Adoption Process: Timeline

A general overview of the adoption process: how long it take, what you need to do at each step, and when you’ll incur expenses.
 

The timeline on this page walks you through the adoption process, from making the decision to finalizing your new family.

The adoption timeline below walks you through the practical process of adopting a child, from making the decision to finalizing your new family. Click on the links in the time periods below to learn much more about each step.

Please note, the time frames given below are estimates. You may find yourself taking more or less time at each step in the adoption process, especially during your initial research and decision-making period and the wait to be matched with an expectant mother or to receive an international referral.

Adoption Process: 1 to 3 Months
Objective: Learn about adoption.

Tasks

Join an adoptive parent support group.

Read adoption books and magazines.

Attend a pre-adoption information session hosted by a local adoption agency or a conference.

Financial Implications

Minimal

Objective: Make preliminary decision about type of adoption.

Tasks

Financial Implications

Understand financial implications of
type of adoption. See adoption cost breakdowns.

 

Adoption Process: 3 to 6 Months
OBJECTIVE: Choose adoption service provider

Tasks

Interview local homestudy agency or social worker, adoption agency for child placement, and/or adoption attorney. See the National Infertility and Adoption Directory.

Complete application procedures.

Financial Implications

Agency application fee ($100-$600) or attorney retainer ($1,500-$5,000) is due at this time. After retainer is disbursed, attorney fees will be due monthly.

Objective: Begin process of locating your child.

Task

If domestic, consult your attorney regarding legalities of independent adoption in your state and draft adoptive parent profile.

Financial Implications

None

Objective: Prepare adoption budget

Tasks

Financial Implications

None

 

Adoption Process: 6 to 9 Months
OBJECTIVE: Complete homestudy

Tasks

Discuss homestudy questions with your spouse/partner/family members.

Collect documents (references, birth certificates, tax returns, marriage certificate, divorce documents).

Work with your homestudy provider on tasks specific to his or her process or your adoption route.

Financial Implications

$0-$200 for copies of documents

$1,000-$3,000 for the homestudy fee

OBJECTIVE: Begin adoption process

Tasks

For international, prepare dossier and file U.S. visa paperwork.

For independent, begin networking and advertising activities to identify expectant mother.

For domestic agency, prepare profile for expectant mother review.

Financial Implications

Typically, up to half of the parent preparation fee is due at the start of the homestudy. With international, visa and documentation fees average $1,000-$3,000. If agency adoption, half of child placement fee is due at this time.

 

Adoption Process: 9 to 24 Months
OBJECTIVE: Receive child referral (international) or
match with an expectant mother (domestic).

Tasks

Arrange for referral documentation (international) review by adoption medicine specialist.

If independent, make arrangements for payment of birth mother expenses, per your agreement and as allowed by state law. Make payment arrangements with medical providers.

Work with your homestudy provider on tasks specific to his or her process or your adoption route.

Financial Implications

If agency, final half of child placement fee is due now. Birth mother’s medical, legal, living, and/or counseling expenses will be paid from this time until birth of baby.

 

Adoption Process: 12 to 30 Months
OBJECTIVE: Placement of child or birth of baby

Task

Enjoy! You are a new parent!

Financial Implications

Outstanding agency fees, if any, and travel expenses, if any, are due now. International fees and expenses are also due now. If independent, birthmother’s hospital expenses are due now (baby’s medical expenses are likely to be covered by your medical insurance).

 

Adoption Process: 18 to 36 Months
OBJECTIVE: Finalization of adoption

Tasks

Arrange for post-placement reports, as required.

Select attorney for final court hearing, or learn how to represent yourself.

Financial Implications

If adopting from foster care, ensure that adoption assistance agreement is in place before finalization and check the availability of reimbursement for one-time expenses in your state. Post-placement fees average $300-$1,000; finalization costs with attorney are typically $500-$2,000.

The Adoption Process: Timeline Reviewed by on . A general overview of the adoption process: how long it take, what you need to do at each step, and when you’ll incur expenses.  The adoption timeline below wal A general overview of the adoption process: how long it take, what you need to do at each step, and when you’ll incur expenses.  The adoption timeline below wal Rating: 0

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