The major types of adoptions have similar procedures in court, but they also have some differences that affect how long an adoption takes.
In a private adoption (through an agency), the legal side of the adoption is generally completed right around six months after the placement of a child with the adoptive parents. This may differ slightly based on the Court’s docket, and the time frame may need to be extended if there are issues with any home study updates or post-placement visits. Generally, though, plan on the adoption being finalized about six months out from the placement date.
In a stepparent, kinship, or custodial adoption, the time frame will depend on whether the adoption is contested. If there is consent by the biological parent or the parent cannot be found, the Court will wait for thirty-five days after the case is filed and will then set a hearing date. The hearing date is usually one to three months out. Altogether, plan on the process taking four or five months from the date you file the case. This doesn’t include the time it takes to request background checks, which can take about a month, and need to be submitted with the adoption filing.
In a contested adoption case, the process will likely take a bit longer. The Court will still wait for up to thirty-five days for a response to the initial filing, but if there is a response or an objection, a few more pieces of procedure come in to play. There may be a status conference, and then a contested hearing will need to be set. Because a contested hearing takes longer than an uncontested adoption hearing (up to a full day), you may have to wait a few months for the final court date. Then, after the contested hearing, the Court may set an additional hearing to finalize the adoption. A contested adoption generally takes six to eight months to complete.