How Long Does it Take to Adopt From Foster Care?

Unlike other adoption processes, foster care adoption allows the placement of a child into your home fairly quickly while you wait for the official adoption to be completed. Our program is specifically designed to help families complete low-risk adoptions.

Understandably, many of the people hoping to become parents are looking for the quickest, safest way to add a child to their family. In considering foster-to-adopt, they often ask, “How long does it take to adopt from foster care in California?”

Every adoption process is different, so there is no single answer as to how long you will wait to adopt a child from foster care. However, unlike other adoption processes, foster care adoption allows the placement of a child into your home fairly quickly while you wait for the official adoption to be completed.

Average Time for Foster Care Adoption

In general, the average time to adopt from foster care is one of the shortest available to hopeful parents considering all of their options. Most families complete their total adoption process within a year or slightly longer, although there will always be journeys that take longer or shorter than this average. Many factors will impact your personal foster care adoption wait time.

To learn more about these factors, we encourage you to contact our staff or attend one of our free information sessions. When you learn more about the foster-to-adopt process as a whole, you will better understand how long it does take to adopt from foster care in California.

Below, you’ll find an outline of how long each step in the process generally takes.

Pre-Placement Process: Four Months

Every hopeful adoptive parent must meet certain requirements before they can be cleared for the foster-to-adopt process in California. Many things are required during this step, so it can take a while for you to meet all of the necessary qualifications. However, when you work with FCCA, you will receive guidance and support through every step. Families who work with our agency to meet their requirements usually complete their pre-placement documentation and training within four months.

Why does the pre-placement process take so long? Adoptive parents need to complete a home study investigation, certain background screening and clearances, and specific foster-to-adopt training before they can be approved for a placement. Working with an experienced adoption professional like FCCA will help you complete this process in an efficient manner.

Wait for Placement: Six Months

So, after you meet your pre-placement requirements, how long does it take to get a foster child in California?

Most of our agency families receive a placement within six months of completing their adoption home study. However, there is a great potential for variation in this wait time. Like with any other adoption process, the desired characteristics of your child will impact how long you wait for a placement. Many hopeful adoptive parents desire a single, younger child with a healthy medical background and few behavioral challenges. If you desire the same thing, you will likely wait longer for a foster care placement that fits your preferences. If you are comfortable adopting a child who is 6 years or older and may have special needs, your wait time will be much shorter. Families who are willing to take in sibling groups will wait even shorter still.

Thus, in order to answer the question, “How long does it take to get a foster child?” you must first answer the question, “What is your desired adoptive child?” As part of your adoption training, your social worker will discuss these options with you and explain how your preferences may impact your adoption wait time.

During this wait time, you and your social worker will look through the photolistings of available children and find appropriate adoption opportunities. Before a child is placed with you, you normally will complete pre-placement visits to get to know each other and prepare for the eventual placement. You will never be forced to accept a placement with which you are uncomfortable, and your social workers will work closely with you during this time to prepare you for your new addition.

Placement Period: Minimum of Six Months

Once a child is placed with you, the majority of your adoption waiting time will be complete. After all, you will finally have a new member of your family, and you can all enjoy being a family now – but the final adoption won’t be complete for a little while longer.

So, how long does it take to adopt a foster child after being placed with you? Like other steps in this process, this time will vary based on your individual circumstances.

First, state laws require that children spend a minimum of six months with a family before finalization can occur. During this time, the FCCA and county social workers will conduct monthly visits and interviews to make sure all members of the family are adjusting properly.

Second, parental rights must be terminated before finalization can occur. While the parents of children placed through our fos-adopt program have frequently failed to complete reunification plans, their rights have not yet been terminated. This will only be done after the prospective adoptive placement in your home is determined to be in the best interest of the child. The legal process of termination can be fairly straightforward, but it can also be lengthy based on a parent’s situation, including whether any birth family member files an appeal of the termination.

After at least six months have passed and the parents’ rights have been terminated, you will be ready to finalize your adoption in court. FCCA’s in-house legal staff will handle this step for you, preparing and filing all your necessary paperwork with the court, and scheduling your court appearance. Your job will be to show up on the appointed court date with your child, answer a few questions, and receive a final decree of adoption to finally complete your fos-adopt process.

If you wish to learn more about how long the fostering process takes in California and when you can expect to finalize your foster care adoption, we encourage you to contact us today, or to attend one of our free information sessions. When you’re ready, we are here to help you begin your family-building process.