Lots of adoptive parents are planners. If you are reading this article, it is likely that you are also a planner. No one really “happens” into adopting a child. There’s too much paperwork—and, yes, too much waiting involved.

The reality is, I have no idea how long you will have to wait in between the moment you decide that adoption is the right choice for your family and when you welcome your child home. No one can really predict this. The process will vary depending on the type of adoption you pursue, the agencies and governments involved, and a thousand other variables. A few of those variables depend on how prompt and diligent you are at filling out forms, obtaining signatures, and gathering documents. Most of them depend on other people and are completely out of your control.

A bit of basic research leads me to believe that the “average” adoption takes 18-36 months to complete. But who wants average? I am not an expert, but I am an adoptive mom and also a “prospective adoptive parent,” as I am hoping to finalize another adoption in the not-too-distant future. Here’s what I know about the waiting:

You will wait as long as it takes to bring your child home.

I’ve never been a big believer in soul mates. I think our soul mate is the partner we choose to love and over time we cannot imagine our lives without this person. I think about families built through adoption in a similar way. When I saw my daughter’s picture, it was some version of “love at first sight.” I knew at that moment that she was meant to be my child, and I would do whatever it took to make that happen. Four-and-a-half years later, we have built trust by choosing to love each other, and I certainly cannot imagine my life without her in it.

when you know that your child is in foster care, or in an orphanage across the ocean, you will do whatever you have to do (and wait as long as you have to wait) to bring them home.


I’ve talked to lots of people who are considering building their families through adoption, and I always tell them that when the time and the situation are right, they will “just know.” I truly believe this. And when you know that your child is in foster care, or in an orphanage across the ocean, you will do whatever you have to do (and wait as long as you have to wait) to bring them home.

The waiting is not wasted time.

Adoption is never easy, never simple. Sometimes the process is delayed unnecessarily. Often, though, the wait that seems excruciating when you are longing to sweep your child into your arms is necessary to ensure that the adoption is completed legally and ethically.

Don’t waste the waiting time. I always tell hopeful adoptive parents to do all the things while they are waiting. Go on vacation. Start a business.  Climb mountains. Volunteer. Go to fancy restaurants. Paint the house. Likely, when your child is home, all of these things will seem infinitely harder and less important. This is also a great time to learn all you can about adoptive parenting. Go to classes and seminars. Read books and articles and blogs. Join a support group and talk to adoptive parents who will be honest with you. No matter how many months it is, the waiting time will feel long. But it isn’t wasted time. If you choose to use it purposefully, it can be dreaming and learning and praying and doing time.

No one knows how long your adoption will take. Things may move quickly and be relatively uncomplicated. (Don’t let anyone tell you that this doesn’t happen. Once my home study was completed, my daughter’s adoption happened this way.)  Or they may drag on for many, many months.  Either way, one thing is for sure.  Your child is worth the wait.