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How Long Does it Take to Adopt a Child?

Adoption Wait Times

One of the biggest reasons of selecting an adoption professional should be how long it will take for you to adopt a child.

There are many factors that deterimine how long the adoption process might take to complete. Here are the four biggest factors in determining your wait time to be selected by a prospective birth mother:

1. Advertising Budget

Advertising is the most important contributing factor in an adoption professional’s average adoption wait times. The more money spent on advertising per adoptive family, the more exposure they will have with prospective birth parents.

Below is a chart that illustrates how the average amount spent on advertisements per family affects their adoption wait time.

Average amount of advertisements per adoptive family

Average wait time


5+ years


3-5 years


1-3 years


3-18 months


3-12 months

2. Number of Active Adoptive Families

Another factor in determining an adoption professional’s average wait time is their number of active adoptive families compared to the total number of adoptions they complete annually.

For example:

Adoption Professional A has 100 active adoptive families and completes 100 adoptions per year, giving them a ratio of 1:1.

Adoption Professional B has 200 active adoptive families and completes 50 adoptions per year, giving them a ratio of 4:1.

Therefore, Adoption Professional A monitors their completed adoptions with the number of adoptive families they let join, while Adoption Professional B lets in four adoptive families for every one adoption they complete.

From this example, Adoption Professional A would be a better choice for a prospective adoptive family concerned about a long wait time.

3. Your Adoption Plan

The more flexible a family’s adoption plan, the more exposure they will have with expectant mothers, which will help reduce their adoption wait time.

For example, if a family is only open to adopting a Caucasian child, their exposure will be limited to birth mothers who are only giving birth to that race. If another family is open to Caucasian, Caucasian/Hispanic and Hispanic, their adoption professional would be able to show them to women giving birth to those races.

If you have certain preferences in your adoption plan, it is important to discuss these with any adoption professional you are interested in, as these preferences could dramatically affect your wait time.

4. Understand You Can Only Do So Much 

As stated in the previous three principles, there are many steps an adoptive family can take to help limit their wait time. However, all families must understand that no matter what they do, their wait will still be unpredictable.

Birth mothers choose certain adoptive families for numerous reasons, from the way the adoptive father may remind her of her own father, to the fact that the adoptive family already has children and she wants her child to have older siblings. The reasons certain families are chosen ahead of others are unique to each birth mother.

Adoptive families should go into the adoption process knowing that their wait is reliant on a birth mother, and not to worry if their wait takes a little longer than expected.

Please read the following to learn more about the length of time required to adopt a child with American Adoptions.

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. 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 accepts a limited number of families into our gender-specific program. Please contact us at 1-800-ADOPTION to learn whether we are currently accepting families into this program. With this option, families pay an additional Gender-Specific Fee to help our agency locate and work with birth mothers meeting this additional criterion. This fee is in addition to other program fees and covers additional advertising. The fee is not considered part of your adoption budget. Please note that gender specificity will likely increase your wait time significantly.

Additional Resources

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