How Long Does It Take To Adopt a Foster Child?

foster parents supporting a child on a bike

So you've talked to your partner and family, prepared for the home study, and completed orientation. Now it's time for your first placement as foster parents.

But you're interested in foster care and adoption. In that case, you're likely wondering, how long does it take to adopt a foster child?

The short answer varies based on how open you are and whether you have any preferences. The longer answer is more complex. Here are some of the averages as well as what you should know.

How Long Before I Receive My First Foster Care Placement?

Again, the timeline before receiving your first foster care placement varies depending on the selected age range, how many children you're willing to foster, and other considerations such as international adoption. The more open you are, the sooner you'll receive a child from foster care.

However, it can take anywhere from a few days to months.

You might also get a call, but the situation may fall outside the limits of your loving home. For instance, you might have the opportunity to care for a sibling set, but you're more equipped to care for one child at a time.

Calls can come anytime, and placements can fall through for several reasons. You'll spend a lot of time waiting and may find you must learn to be patient.

While this can take a toll, you must keep your spirits up. Reading about foster and adoption success stories can keep you focused on your goal.

Once a Child Is Placed With Me, How Long Will They Stay?

The length of time children in foster care stay with you also varies depending on their age and situation. It depends mainly on the case plan goals made by the birth families or group homes. The most common purpose is reunification with their families or birth parents.

Older children may stay with a family until they're old enough for emancipation. Some are waiting for reunification, while others are waiting for adoptive parents.

So, reunification is only sometimes the ideal outcome for children in the system.

According to the latest Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) report, 113,589 children in the foster care system were waiting for adoption in 2021 in the USA.

On average, a child will stay with a foster family for around 13 months.

How Long Does It Take To Adopt a Foster Child?

Each state has its laws and open adoption requirements. You must meet all qualifications for adoption, including all adoption agency requirements, or else you are unable to care for the many waiting children. You may need to get dual-licensed, for example.

They are dual-licensed means that you're licensed to foster and adopt. You also need approval from the agency. Many foster children end up being adopted by their foster families.

It generally takes 9-18 months, but many factors can affect this time frame. Speak with an adoption specialist to learn more about what to expect.

Are You Interested in Adopting a Child?

So, how long does it take to adopt a foster child? In short, it takes around 9-18 months, though it may be sooner if you're more flexible. It can also take much longer, based on various factors.

The best way to find out and learn more is to reach out to our parent advocate here at FosterVA. Contact us, and we'll answer all your questions, including how long it can take to adopt through the foster care system.

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