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Average Time to Adopt a Child

Explaining the Adoption Process Timeline

Growing your family through adoption is one of the most life-changing, rewarding experiences you will ever go through. Knowing the average time it takes to adopt a child will prepare you for the journey ahead.

There are many different factors that affect the average time to adopt a newborn. Each step of the adoption process has varying wait times, and it’s important to know just how long each step will take. That’s why we’ve created this guide to explain the adoption process timeline.

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with an adoption specialist, then you can call 1-800-ADOPTION or fill out this contact form to get free adoption information now. We’d be more than happy to help you begin your adoption journey!

Domestic Infant Adoption Timeline: Average Time to Adopt a Child

When you work with American Adoptions, the average time it takes to adopt a child through our agency is between 9-12 months. Every adoption journey is unique, and your circumstances, the details of the prospective birth mother’s life and the adoption agency you choose can have a significant impact on the length of the adoption process.

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of the domestic infant adoption process and how long it takes to complete each step.

Step 1: Completing the Home Study and Adoptive Family Profile

One of the first and most important steps in the adoption process is completing the home study. Home studies are required for every adoption and consist of a basic overview of your life, including:

  • Criminal background checks

  • Financial documents

  • Hobbies and interests

Home studies are often one of the lengthiest steps of the adoption process and can affect the average adoption wait time. It can take anywhere from 2-3 months for this step to be completed. This is because it requires an extensive review of important documents such as birth certificates and marriage licenses, which can take some time for families to locate or receive copies of.

Having these documents prepared ahead of time will ensure the average adoption wait time doesn’t take longer than necessary. This stage of the adoption process can seem intimidating, but we’ve helped thousands of families through this important step with ease.

Along with the home study, you will complete your family profile. When you work with American Adoptions, you’re able to build an adoptive family profile to give prospective birth parents an inside look into your lives and personalities.  On top of that, we also create adoption video profiles that go beyond letters and pictures to present a real, in-depth look into your life.

Step 2: Finding an Adoption Opportunity

Your profile is the key to finding an adoption opportunity, and the average wait time for domestic infant adoption depends on how many prospective birth parents see your profile. We put your family profile in front of more prospective birth parents to ensure the shortest average wait time to adopt a child.

In fact, you’d need to join at least 25 other agencies at the same time in order to get the same exposure. Too often, many families choose other adoption professionals who quote unrealistic wait times.

If you want a lower average adoption wait time, then try to be flexible to different adoption situations, such as:

  • Race of the baby

  • Gender of the baby

  • Medical and substance abuse history of the birth mother

  • Type of adoption relationship

  • Budget

Although there is no way to measure the exact time frame of your adoption, being open to as many situations as possible means your profile will reach more birth parents. This will ensure that the average time to adopt a child is minimal.

Step 3: Getting Ready for Placement

Once you’ve been selected by prospective birth parents, the typical time it takes to adopt depends on how far along the birth mother’s pregnancy is. Some families might be matched with a birth mother who is months away from giving birth, and other adoptive families might find an opportunity where the birth mother’s due date is days away.

Each adoption situation is different, so it’s important to be patient. Remember, you’re that much closer to welcoming your baby into a life full of love and opportunity. When you work with American Adoptions, we will do everything we can to make sure that the average length of time for the adoption process is kept at a minimum.

Although it can be difficult to wait for something this life-changing, we recommend doing everything you can to live life as usual. Keep going about your work and hobbies, visit friends and family and do what you’ve always wanted to do right now. You’re going to have a lot of responsibility soon, so make sure to enjoy yourself and try not to stress.

Step 4: Finalization

Before finalization,  post-placement visits must be completed with a social worker. These visits occur once per month and can typically take up to six months. Once it’s time for finalization, state adoption laws must meet the following criteria:

  • Termination of parental rights: Both birth parents must have their rights legally terminated. In most states, birth parents must wait for a specified amount of time following the child’s birth before signing legal consent. This can take anywhere from immediately to 30 days, depending on state laws.

  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) clearance: ICWA is a federal law that helps preserve Indigenous tribes and families. It requires legal proceedings involving any Indigenous child who is a member of a federally recognized tribe. The time it takes to complete ICWA will vary depending on your state.

  • Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) clearance: The finalization hearing ensures ICPC regulations were followed if and when the child crossed state lines. ICPC ensures the child is placed in a safe environment and ensures the adoption is legal. This step of the average time it takes to adopt a child can take between 10-14 days.

Learn More about the Average Time It Takes to Adopt a Child

Ultimately, every family’s experience with adoption will be different. At American Adoptions, we understand how difficult it could be to wait for an adoption opportunity. You deserve the lowest wait time possible, which is why we do everything we can to make sure your adoption wait times are kept at a minimum. Family is forever, but your wait time doesn’t have to be.

To learn more about how American Adoptions minimizes the average time it takes to adopt a child, call 1-800-ADOPTION now or fill out our contact form to get more free information now.


Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. American Adoptions provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do we need to retain our own attorney?

No, American Adoptions has established relationships with some of the best adoption attorneys in the nation. Because adoption laws vary from state to state and between counties, it is important to utilize the services of an adoption attorney who specializes in the state where the adoption will finalize, which is unknown until you match with an expectant mother. You have the right to retain your own attorney, but doing so may be an additional, unnecessary expense.

Can we choose the gender of our baby?

American Adoptions does not allow gender specificity in adoption. Any family who wishes to be gender-specific in their adoption should contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION and ask about the possibility of an exception waiver before taking any other steps toward adoption with our agency. Any families who do receive an exception to be gender-specific may also incur an additional fee, which helps cover the additional advertising costs of such a request.

Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

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