Understanding the Adoption Process

Written by Emily Arismendy

Adoption is a profound and compassionate way to build families that provide children with loving homes and hopeful futures. Understanding the adoption process, its timelines, the unique dynamics of fostering to adopt and kinship placements is essential for those considering this life-changing journey. In light of November being National Adoption Month, we will delve into the intricacies of adoption, shedding light on its various aspects and addressing common questions.

What is adoption and how does the adoption process work?

Adoption is a legal process that establishes a permanent, lifelong relationship between adoptive parents and a child. The adoption process typically involves several key steps, including home studies, background checks, and legal proceedings. Prospective adoptive parents may work with adoption agencies, attorneys, or pursue international adoption, each with its own set of requirements and procedures.

How many children are up for adoption?

In 2021, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, on any given day, over 391,000 children are living in the U.S. foster care system and the number has been rising. Over 113,000 of these children are eligible for adoption and they will wait, on average, almost three years for an adoptive family. The number of children awaiting adoption in the United States fluctuates, influenced by various factors.

Why are children put up for adoption?

Unfortunately, there are numerous reasons why children are put up for adoption, ranging from the inability of biological families to provide care due to financial struggles. Abuse is often a factor for children entering the foster care system.

Also changes in abortion laws, like the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, could affect adoptions by influencing the choices of individuals in pregnancy-related decisions. Stricter abortion laws may increase adoption considerations, impacting rates, policies, and service demand. The interplay of legal, social, and cultural factors adds complexity to the relationship between reproductive rights and adoption outcomes.

Cradle Hope offers more insights into these various reasons and factors.

How Long Does the Adoption Process Take?

The duration of the adoption process can vary widely based on factors such as the type of adoption, agency efficiency, and legal requirements. On average, domestic adoptions may take one to two years, while international adoptions can take several years due to additional legal and bureaucratic hurdles.

Does Fostering to Adopt Work Differently? What are kinship placements?

Fostering to adopt involves providing a temporary home for a child with the intention of adopting them if reunification with their biological family is not possible. Kinship placements, a subset of fostering, refers to placing a child with relatives or close family friends. This approach aims to maintain the child’s connection to their biological roots and can provide a smoother transition into a permanent home.

How Long Does Kinship Adoption Take?

Kinship adoption timelines can vary, but the process is often faster than other forms of adoption. Since the child is already in a familiar environment with relatives, legal proceedings may be expedited. However, the specific duration can depend on state laws, court proceedings, and individual circumstances.

Why Does Adoption Cost So Much?

The costs associated with adoption can be significant, covering legal fees, agency services, and other related expenses. Financial assistance is available, including grants, loans, and tax credits. Kinship placements, supported by government aid programs, can alleviate some financial burdens. Exploring these resources and understanding the financial aspects of adoption can help prospective parents plan effectively for this meaningful journey.


Adoption is a beautiful and life-changing experience, offering love, stability, and a bright future to children in need. By comprehending the adoption process, its timelines, and the nuances of fostering to adopt and kinship placements, individuals and couples can embark on this journey with confidence, knowing they are building families through compassion and commitment.

Related: “Foster and Adopt program provides loving home for siblings

Foster and Adopt in Austin

SAFE’s Foster and Adopt in Austin program provides foster care, adoption services, and kinship care to families in Central Texas. With extensive training and an experienced staff, SAFE has developed a program that offers superior supports for foster, kinship, and adoptive families.

Learn more about Fostering and Adoption through SAFE here.