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Family Story: Chris & Mary (South Africa)
How long will an adoption from Bulgaria take? What is the time frame to complete an adoption? These questions are understandably a few of the first questions a family will ask when initially researching Bulgarian adoption and deciding between country programs. As adoption professionals, it is a bit of a struggle to answer this question. It is a question with many answers, and yet really no answer at all. Both types of information are helpful, yet neither will be a perfect predictor of how long your adoption will take.
Approximate time frames are just that, approximate. Of course we want our families to have some frame of reference for how long an adoption may take, but the reality is we do not know how long any individual adoption will take. In looking at all of our approximate timelines, it is also important to know that we have families that are matched much more quickly than the approximate timeline would suggest and those that may wait significantly longer for one reason or another. Most commonly, the families that are open to the most characteristics of children including being open to both genders, open to sibling groups of 3 or more, open to medical needs and open to children 6 and older may have a shorter wait time. Conversely, those families seeking a child as young as possible with few or no known medical needs may wait significantly longer than the approximate time line would suggest.
In creating approximate time lines, it may also be helpful to know that we are making some assumptions to create the time lime and we remove some outliers in coming up with the approximate timelines. We make efforts to provide the ‘typical prospective adoptive family’ with a range of what they might expect regarding time frame. For instance, Bulgaria is a very active international adoption program for MLJ so we are able to constantly look to our timelines to ensure that we are providing accurate, up to date and transparent information. The approximate wait time that MLJ shares for its Bulgaria program is to explain that it will likely take approximately 12-24 months to be matched with a child in Bulgaria. This time frame is based on past experience with our past client families and the time frames have varied greatly depending on the characteristics that the adoptive family is open to and the characteristics of children in need.
There are many ways to look at these numbers. The average time frame our families have waited has been 15.6 months to be matched with a child not on the waiting list and for all of our families including those families that have been matched with children from the waiting list is 11.8 months. To get to the approximate timeline of 12 – 24 we made several assumptions including: the family would not be adopting from the waiting child list, family was open to no more than 2 siblings, the family would be open to minor correctable needs and the family is seeking a child under the age of 5. These assumptions of course, will not apply to all adoptions. Because of these assumptions we must make, we have found it helpful to share all data with families interested in a country program regarding the time frames that we have seen over the past several years in an effort to provide families with the most realistic expectations possible.
The time frames that we have seen from dossier submission with the central authority (Ministry of Justice) in Bulgaria to the point that Bulgaria matches the family with a child in need were as follows in 2015:
Female Child, 14 years – 1 month wait
Female Child, 2.5 years – 3 month wait
Female Child, 13 years – 3 month wait
Female Child, 11 years – 5 month wait
Siblings, male age 7, female age 5, male age 4 – 6 month wait
Male Child, 1.5 years – 7 month wait
Twins, female and male, age 22 months – 7 month wait
Siblings, female age 4 and male age 1 – 13 month wait
Male Child, 1.5 years – 14 month wait
Female Child, 1.5 years – 15 month wait
Male Child, 2 years – 18 month wait
Female child age 2 – 34 month wait
Male Child, 1.5 years – 37 month wait
As you can see, the approximate timeline does not and cannot cover all circumstances and situation because each adoption is so very unique. For instance, even though we had one child matched with a family almost immediately upon dossier submission, it would create an unrealistic to tell prospective families that the approximate time frame starts at only waiting one month because the majority of families are not open to adopting a teenager.
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