One of the most common questions that we get about adoption is how long did it take from the decision to have a baby to finalization? Thankfully, this is one of the most benign questions that we’ve been asked. It’s also one of the easiest questions to answer.
Before I jump in, a quick disclaimer. Every adoption is different. Some take more time and some take less time. There are a lot of factors at play.
Below is a month-by-month description of what happened adoption-wise. Some months were much busier than others. I’m planning on doing more in-depth posts about each step of the process.
Back when I was a professor and subject to the whims of the academic calendar, Justin and I made it a point to get the heck out of Michigan for winter break (also known as spring break to just about everyone else, but I digress…). For our 2018 trip, we went to Madrid, Spain.
One thing we like about taking trips together is that we have time to just be with each other and talk. There are so many distractions and chores at home that it’s often impossible for us to make the time to have “big picture” conversations.
On this trip, we talked a lot about what we wanted our life to look like in the next 5, 10, and 20 years. One idea that we kept coming back to was having a child to share our life with. We started seriously talking about adoption.
After we got back to Michigan, the next few months were a whirlwind since Justin accepted a new job in Denver, Colorado. We had to handle the logistics of moving. During this time, we continued talking about our decision to adopt and started doing lots of reading about the process.
Once we were settled in to our new home, we used June to start figuring out which adoption agency we wanted to go with. We had already done quite a bit of research about what we needed in an adoption agency and had compiled a list of questions. We attended infant adoption information meetings with two different agencies. Based on those meetings, we were able to narrow our decison down and decided to go with Adoption Options.
We decided to submit our initial application in August. This application was pretty straightforward with your typical biographical information and financial information. We also submitted a TON of supporting documentation and our application fee. A couple of weeks later, we got an email from our assigned caseworker to set up a meeting to start the home study process.
We had our first two home study meetings (of four in total) during September. The first meeting was more of a meet and greet with our case worker to get to know each other. The second meeting was back-to-back individual interviews with each of us that covered a lot of ground. It was a very intense and personal process.
After the two home study meetings in September, October was a relative breeze. We had our third meeting which consisted of a tour of our apartment and then a last meeting to review everything and answer any outstanding questions. Then we met with the director of the agency to review our entire home study and formally enter the adoption pool.
The State of Colorado requires quite of bit of training for adoptive families. Since we’re technically foster families until the adoption is finalized, we’re required to go through all of the training that foster families go through. We attended our first two classes in November. These classes went over the adoption process and general issues. The most important and impactful parts of the class were the panels with birth parents and adoptive families.
We continued our training in April with infant CPR and first aid training. This was a five hour class that primarily focused on what to do in various emergencies. We learned how to provide CPR to both infants and adults. Oddly, the most memorable part (aside from CPR) was that prairie dogs carry bubonic plague.
Training continued in May with our Dynamics of Transcultural and Transracial Adoption class. I’m sure you’re starting to see a theme with the amount of training required to adopt in Colorado. This class focused on how adoptive parents often differ in terms of race and/or ethnicity from their children and their children’s first family.
This was also the month that I left my job as a professor. We had planned on me having quite some time to process what that meant for me, but…
In August we got the call about a potential situation for us to be profiled for. After listening to what was going on and having a lot of conversations, we decided to go forward with having our profile shown to the birth family. A few days later, we were told that they had picked us!
Our little guy was in the NICU and we got to meet him the following day. It was a whirlwind of a time.
Funnily enough, a few days after meeting our son we went to our required infant care class. With the exception of us, everyone in the room was a family either matched with an expectant mom and waiting for the baby to be born or in the pool and waiting to be matched. We were the only family with a baby and the the only family getting daily education on infant care from our excellent NICU nurses. Needless to say, when the hands on part of the class started we asked to be excused since we had a baby that we wanted to get our hands on.
Sweet baby boy was still in the hospital and we still had adoption paperwork requirements to handle. The state requires home studies to be renewed annually. Since the adoption wasn’t final, we had to schedule time with our caseworker to do this. Plus, she needed to see our new home.
We had our last adoption class in October. This class focused on how to talk about adoption with our child and others. It also went over general child development. Most families take this class after the baby has been placed with them, meaning the baby is at home. However, since Sumner was still in the NICU and not technically placed with us yet, we decided that it would make sense for us to take the class before placement. It was hard since it was another day that we had to postpone seeing him until the evening.
Three days before Thanksgiving, Sumner was discharged from the hospital. After doing all of the paperwork that made us officially responsible for him, we got to take him home!
Since we were technically his foster family, the state requires multiple post-placement vists from our social worker before the adoption can be finalized. Our first visit occurred ten days after he was discharged from the hospital. At this visit, we filled out the applicattion for adoption and answered questions about how we were doing as a family of three at home.
Our second post-placement visit was in February. Normally this would take place at the office, but with Sumner’s medical stuff our caseworker decided to come to us. We had a lot of the same discussion as before.
Our last post-placement meeting was in May. By this time, COVID was becoming a much larger issue and self-isolating was more the norm for us. (As if we hadn’t done enough self-isolating during flu and RSV season.) Our caseworker got approval to do our “visit” over zoom so that we wouldn’t need to go any where. Again, it was more of the same.
Our finalization hearing was scheduled for June via Webex because the courts were closed for in-person business due to COVID. While it wasn’t ideal, I am glad that we were able to finish the process.
So, there you have it. From the time we decided to adopt to finalization took our family 28 months. We were in the adoption pool for 10 months in total. Now that the adoption has been finalized, I’ve started working on all of the paperwork (getting a new social, birth certificate, etc).
What questions do you have?