April 2, 2019
How to Adopt – FIRST STEP in the Adoption Process

How to Adopt – FIRST STEP in the Adoption Process


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Have you decided that your family would like to be a forever family for a child in need? Here is what you need to know about How to Adopt.

First step in the adoption process - If you are considering adopting, this series from an adoptive mom is a MUST READ.

How to Adopt

First of all let me say that deciding to adopt is wonderful decision. You are making a world of difference for not only a child in need, but all those that child will impact in his or her lifetime! Thank you!

Now for the “bad” news – adoption is a long, stressful, agonizing process that will take a lot of determination and support to navigate. But you can do it! Let me help.

And if you are still on the fence about adopting, make sure to check out our first post in the series Why Adopt.


#1 – Decide WHERE you want to Adopt From

You may be surprised to learn that this is the first step after you decide to adopt. The reason it matters is not all agencies have programs in every country.

What country you choose to adopt from will determine your timeline, budget, agency, and timeline. So how do you decide what country to pick?

  • Do you have a particular age in mind? If you are only open to infants, look no further than a private adoption agency at home. There are NO newborn infants in international adoptions! Surprised? I know that was not always the case, but with a crack down in ethics of adoption (that’s a good thing) the timeline, unfortunately, grows too! You may, MAY be able to bring home a child as young as 9 months – but your wait will be longer or you need to be willing to adopt a medically fragile child.
    • Typically the youngest children available for adoption are 2  years of age
    • The wait for older children or children with severe special needs is shortest – because they are harder to place.
  • Do you feel a particular burden for a certain country? You should think about what you envision your child looking like? If you are a white family, are you comfortable (and is your neighborhood receptive) to a black child? If you have a lot of love or respect for a certain country or culture that is a great place to start!
  • Are you willing to adopt a child with special needs? Many adoptive programs have a large need for families willing to adopt children with special needs. Certainly special needs adoptions are the most urgently needed and quickest route (many finishing within 12-15 months). Special needs can mean a HUGE range – some are minor or repaired in country of origin, but be prepared that not all conditions may have been detected. Are you willing to love your child through it? Do you have the support system for doctors appointments and possible surgeries? Do you have good health insurance?
first step in the adoption proecess
  • How long are you willing to wait? Other than domestic, private infant adoptions (where you are depending on someone choosing you), the shortest wait time is typically adopting from China. It is a special needs ONLY program, but it is reliable, well organized, and with wait times up to 12-18 months from start to finish.  Here is a current, basic break down on wait times by country (note this can change slightly based on agency)
    • Bulgaria – 4 years
    • China – 12-18 months
    • Columbia – 1-2 years
    • Congo – – currently closed
    • Domestic Adoption – varies 6 month – 2+ years
    • Dominican Republic – 1 1/2 – 3 years
    • Ethiopia – 2-5 years
    • Guatemala – – currently closed
    • Haiti – 2-4 years
    • India – 2-4 years
    • Korea – 18-24 months
    • Latvia – varies about 12 months
    • Philippines – 2-3 years
    • Romania – varies – 9 months
    • Taiwan – 11-27 months
    • Thailand – 3-4 years
    • Uganda – currently closed
    • Ukraine – varies 12 months
    • Vietnam – varies

first step in adopting

  • Family Requirements – All adoptive programs have requirements of the adoptive families from how many children can currently be in the home, adoptive parents age, parents health, number of years married, divorces, family income, and more. Here are some basic requirements:
    • Bulgaria – age 25-55
    • China – age 30-50, married 5 years, single women okay, healthy (BMI under 40), net worth of $80K, no maximum number of children, heterosexual couples
    • Columbia – age 25+
    • Congo – – currently closed
    • Dominican Republic – age 30-60, heterosexual couples
    • Ethiopia – age 25+
    • Guatemala – – currently closed
    • Haiti – age 30-50, married at least 5 years
    • India – no more than 3 children, age 25-50
    • Korea – up to 4 children, age 25-42, open to contact from birth parents
    • Latvia – age 25-55, no more than 2 other children
    • Philippines
    • Romania – age 25-55, one parent must be Romanian
    • Taiwan – age 30-48 with no more than 2 children in the home, net worth of  $100K, no health concerns at all not even weight
    • Thailand – preferred, with documented infertility, mother 38 and under, no more than 1 other child
    • Uganda – currently closed
    • Ukraine – must be 15 years older than child adopting, no number of children limitation
    • Vietnam – age 25-55, no more than 4 kids already in home,
  • How many trips & How long can you spend in the adoptive’s country? If you have limited PTO or are worried about the costs associated with multiple international trips or many weeks in a foreign country you will want to consider these requirements:
    • Bulgaria – 2 trips totaling about 17 days, mothers can travel alone
    • China – 1 trip, about 2 weeks, one parent can travel
    • Columbia – 1 trip of 4-6 weeks
    • Congo – – currently closed
    • Dominican Republic – depending on age 30-60 days
    • Ethiopia – 2 trips, 5-7 days each or 1 4 week trip
    • Guatemala – – currently closed
    • Haiti – 2 trips (first 15 days to meet child, second trip 7 days to finalize adoption)
    • India – 9-14 days, one parent can travel
    • Korea – 2 trips, about 1 week each
    • Latvia – 3 trips
    • Philippines
    • Romania – 2-3 trips
    • Taiwan – 4-7 days, on parent can travel, occasionally 2 trips
    • Thailand – 15 days, both parents must travel
    • Uganda – currently closed
    • Ukraine – 1 trip of 5-6 weeks
    • Vietnam – 1 trip of 2 weeks

Is your head spinning yet? Mine sure was when we started!

Don’t worry, you’ll very quickly narrow down the countries based on how long you are willing to wait, your current number of kids, age of child your are looking to adopt, how many trips you are willing to take, and if you are willing to adopt a special needs child, etc.
Once you have it narrowed down, it is time for the next step How to Adopt: Picking an Adoption Agency

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