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What is the Timeline for an International Adoption?

How To Adopt Pre-Adoption

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  Written by Caitlin Snyder on 07 Jul 2016

Most families considering international adoption know that it takes a long time. Their friends have told them, adoptive families have shared their experiences, but how long exactly does an international adoption take?

The short answer is that the timeline for an international adoption can vary greatly depending on the country a family chooses to adopt from and the characteristics of the child that the family is hoping to adopt. But, most adoption journeys take between two and a half and three and a half years. Families seeking the adoption of an older child, sibling group, or child with additional special needs may see much shorter timelines.

Home Study and Dossier Preparation

Most families spend the first six months of their adoption journey working on their home study and compiling the documents required for their dossier. While some families are able to complete these two steps in less than six months, there are a large number of documents that will need to be notarized, apostilled and in some cases, authenticated, before the dossier can be translated and submitted to the country’s central authority. A variety of things may impact how long it takes your family to complete your home study and dossier: scheduling home visits, number of background checks required, the country’s dossier requirements, USCIS processing times and other factors outside the family’s control. It’s important that families understand that usually the waiting process does not officially start until the dossier has been submitted to the country because this is when the family can begin to receive a referral.

Referral Wait Times for International Adoption

Once a family has completed and submitted their dossier, the waiting process has begun. In most of the countries, families can expect to wait between one and three years to be matched with a child. That timeframe is dependent on the characteristics of the child or children the family is hoping to adopt, how many adoptions that country processes each year and the number of children in need of families at any given time. Adoptive families usually share that the waiting time to be matched is the hardest part of the adoption process.

Some families may be matched significantly quicker than others. It is important to remember that every adoption journey is different. It may also be helpful to ask your adoption agency for data for how long families waited for referrals of different aged children. Seeing this information may help set your family’s expectations appropriately.

Bringing the Child Home

After receiving a match with a child, each country has different travel requirements as far as stay in country, number of trips and when a family travels. For most country programs, families can expect to bring their adopted child home four to eighteen months after they’ve received the child’s referral.

The timeframes for an international are long and the process can be hard, but it is important to remember your family’s end goal – bringing a new child into your family!



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