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Timeline of an International Adoption

timeline of an international adoptionWhen you adopt internationally, it takes an entirely different path than a pregnancy or a domestic adoption. Full of waiting, ups and downs, and milestones that turn into just another wait. The process can be painfully slow only to become incredibly sped up at the end, or speed along until you’re ready and then take an unexpected turn that leaves you waiting more.

As we’ve found out, you can even be in a program or with an agency and have it all change in an instant.

So just what happens in an international adoption? How does it all work for most people who look overseas to expand their families? How long does each process take?

Below is a timeline of international adoption for most people. Although some things differ (there are countries that require you to travel 2-3 times), in general this is the breakdown of what to expect when you start an international adoption.

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  • Choose a country 1 of 12
    Choose a country
    Decide what countries you're interested in adoption from. Choose more than one in case there are a few you don't qualify for.
  • Choose the agency 2 of 12
    Choose the agency
    Call around to a few agencies and find which ones you're interested in working with. It can take a few weeks or months to find the right fit.
  • Fill out application paperwork 3 of 12
    Fill out application paperwork
    This entails a lot of the basic details about you and your family. It's long, but should be able to be finished in a day or two. Having all the documents ready moves things along faster.
  • Start all the paperwork 4 of 12
    Start all the paperwork
    Once you've been preliminarily approved for a country to adopt from, the homestudy paperwork begins. In some cases this comes after the interview, in our case before. It consists of copies of all your legal documents from birth certificates to a marriage license, questionnaires you'll both need to fill out, essays that are written on parenting styles, and financial paperwork. This part of the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Have your homestudy interview 5 of 12
    Have your homestudy interview
    Your homestudy interview may be done all at once or divided up into parts. Ours was done in an evening but consisted of an interview with my husband, then just me, then us as a couple. After, your social worker needs time to write up what his findings and recommendations are. Plan for this to take a week to a couple of months.
  • USCIS and fingerprinting 6 of 12
    USCIS and fingerprinting
    After the homestudy is approved by everyone, the next step is to get the fingerprints and approval from the USCIS about the advance petition to adopt an orphan — which means more paperwork. The time frame varies, but plan on it taking a few weeks total.
  • Wait for the call 7 of 12
    Wait for the call
    Everything done? Now you wait. If you haven't already been matched with a child (a waiting child or one that was simply available asap) you'll be waiting by the phone for the day the agency calls to let you know they have a match. Depending on the agency and country, this could be as short as a few weeks to over a year.
  • Meet the little one referred 8 of 12
    Meet the little one referred
    After a referral, the agency will (in most cases) send pictures and all the medical records they have of the child. You'll have anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks to make a decision and contact some pediatricians who will be able to help guide you with special needs or what to expect when you come home medically.
  • Decide if it’s a good match 9 of 12
    Decide if it's a good match
    After you receive a referral, it's time to make a decision. A good agency with a child's best interest at heart will not pressure you to make a quick decision or punish you for declining. After all, this child is already here, has experienced trauma, and needs a family who truly knows they are the best match. Take the time you need to make an informed, rational decision.
  • Start all your visa/passport work while they do too 10 of 12
    Start all your visa/passport work while they do too
    You've said yes! It's time for more waiting! During these months, you'll get your passport and visa ready while preparing to add a child to your home. Your child will also be preparing, his or her country will be working on EP (emigration permits) to allow them to leave the country with you. Again, this can take several weeks to over a year.
  • Go meet/bring home your child 11 of 12
    Go meet/bring home your child
    One day you'll get the call you've waited for — your child is ready to be brought back with you! Pack your bags, adhere to any rules your agency has set about gifts/money for foster parents and orphanage workers, and head out.
  • Home! 12 of 12
    Home!
    Once you arrive home, you'll need to formally adopt your child in the U.S. — sometimes even if they were adopted in their home country by you. Some countries ask that parents continue to receive checkups with their social worker on a 3, 6, and 9 month basis before they formally adopt.

 

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Diana blogs on raising a toddler daughter, the loss of her twin boys, and their families’ Korean adoption on the aptly named Hormonal ImbalancesSmaller glimpses into her day are on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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