I am often asked how long our adoption process with the State of Oregon took from start to finish. The questions of how long it takes to adopt from the state can be difficult to answer, because every state handles their system differently and every family and child is unique.
We started investigating adoption during 2001 by looking at all of our options. We briefly considered domestic infant adoption but decided, given our ages and the fact that I had biological children, we might have to wait a long time before a pregnant woman might consider our family for the placement of her baby for adoption. We also investigated international adoption and learned that in most countries we would need to travel and for us this was not something we were interested in doing. We also found we would not qualify in several countries given our age and the length of our marriage.
Most importantly however, during 2001 we decided that we wanted more than one child and the idea of siblings became attractive. We felt if our children were not genetically related to us it would be awesome if they could be biological siblings. We also knew it was unlikely we would want to go through the process more then one time so adopting a waiting sibling group from our state foster care system became the most obvious choice to meet the family dreams we had outlined.
We contacted our county children’s services office and had the adoption application and information sent to our home in July 2001. The next 28 hour special needs adoption training classes were held in November and we attended. It was an overwhelming experience and one we thought on for several weeks as we weighed the risks and considered the implications of what we were considering as a way to add children to our family.
After the holidays we both found ourselves on the same page and willing to continue the process with the same goal we had started out with. We wanted to adopt siblings. It took days to complete the applications each of us with 26 pages of open ended questions to answer. Every night for several weeks we sat down and each answered question upon question dealing with everything from how we felt about our siblings to what our future goals in life were. Finally, on February 7, 2002 we had both of our applications completed and copied and they were delivered to the county children’s services office along with the names and addresses of three friends and one family member.
During our wait to be assigned to an adoption social worker we had our background checks and fingerprints completed including those of my now nearly adult biological children still living in our household. We saw our doctors and had some counseling anticipating it would be needed. My history of being a battered wife for fourteen years seemed a likely reason the state would want to insure I was mentally healed and stable. My husband had suffered some depression in the past and the loss of his father and twelve-year-old niece in 1999 to a drunk driver so seeing a therapist while we waited seemed like a good idea.
It felt like it took forever before our application was assigned to an Adoption Social Worker who would complete our home study and work with us until our children were legally adopted. Finally in May of 2002 we were assigned to our worker and began the home study process. Our references all reported that other then thinking we were completely crazy to want to adopt siblings in our situation they didn’t see any reason we wouldn’t make great parents. My older children had confidential meetings with the adoption worker and talked about what kind of parents we had been for them. Our home safety check was completed and we had disclosed everything about ourselves in several long meetings with our worker. At the end of June 2002 our home study was submitted to the main office for approval.
At the end of August 2002 we received the notice permitting us to look at the children listed in our state needing a family for adoption. We submitted our home study on eighty three sibling groups and heard nothing until October. Sadly, the first few matches the state made ended up being with single children or when given more information were children we felt we could not parent as well as they deserved. Then in early November we were matched with three different sibling groups that gave us faces to dream about.
On December 18, 20002 we were informed that we had been selected to be the adoptive placement for Makala age 4 and Jeremiah 11 months old. Everyone agreed, as hard as it was, the children should remain in the foster family for Christmas so the transition plan was written that we would meet the children and start moving them on January 2, 2003. Originally, it was to be a two week transition but due to the emotional upset for the foster mother who had wanted to adopt only our son things were sped up and we brought our children home on January 10, 2003.
Our children were placed as the last few steps for the termination of parental rights were completed. On January 15, 2003 five days after we brought the children home they became legally free for adoption. We had to arrange for Makala to have one final visit with her birth mother the next day. Then wait the minimum of six months for state supervision before we would be able to complete the petition for adoption. In our case, it took longer and finally on December 19, 2003 our family went to court and the adoptions were finalized in a grand pre-Christmas ceremony.
Some families have shorter or longer waiting times at various points during the journey but for us the whole process was really just over two years from our first contact with the state to adoption day.