Modern Family Matters

How Long Does an Adoption Take, and What Information Is Needed?

November 06, 2023 with Pacific Cascade Legal Season 1 Episode 116
Modern Family Matters
How Long Does an Adoption Take, and What Information Is Needed?
Show Notes Transcript

Join us as we sit down with Family Law Attorney, Kimberly Brown, to discuss how long various types of adoption can take, and important pieces of information you should know before getting started on the process. In this interview, Kimberly discusses the following:

•    How long does an adoption take?
 •    What are the different kinds of adoption?
 •    Adopting through the Oregon dept. Of human services (DHS)
 •    Stepparent and second parent adoptions
 •    Adopting through a private adoption agency
 •    Independent adoptions
 •    What information is needed to get started? 

If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please call our office at (503) 227-0200, or visit our website at

Disclaimer: Nothing in this communication is intended to provide legal advice nor does it constitute a client-attorney relationship, therefore you should not interpret the contents as such.

Welcome to Modern Family Matters, a podcast devoted to exploring family law topics that matter most to you. Covering a wide range of legal, personal, and family law matters, with expert analysis from skilled attorneys and professional guests, we hope that our podcast provides answers, clarity, and guidance towards a better tomorrow for you and your family. Here's your host, Steve Altishin.

Steve Altishin  0:32  
I'm Steve Altishin, Director of Client Partnerships at Pacific Cascade Legal. And I'm here with Attorney Kimberly Brown to talk about how long does an adoption take, and what information is needed to get started? Kimberly, how are you doing today?

Kimberly Brown  0:48  
Well, Steve, thank you. How about yourself?

Steve Altishin  0:50  
I'm doing very well today. And I'm really ready for this topic. Because this is asked a lot, and especially the how long it takes. So let's start with the first question. How long does an adoption take?

Kimberly Brown  1:06  
You know, it varies across the different types of adoption, but it can take anywhere from I would say two to three months, up to a couple of years, depending on the particular situation. Usually, we want to get it done as quickly as we can, because the longer it takes, I just think it puts an incredible stress on the whole family. And so I think we tend to worry if something's taking a longer time that something's going wrong. But we have to remember in adoptions is that there are really stringent requirements that are put in place by the state or by the federal government, as well as the adoption agencies and all of the professionals involved. And we have issues of there's an interstate adopted have interstate adoption happening, we have to deal with two states sometimes. And it's called, we have to deal with the interstate compacts, making sure that the state that you're bringing the child from is ready to release the child and that the state that the child is going to is ready to receive the child, we have some laws around, you know, you can't just willy nilly go in and adopt because you want to protect the child. And it depends on where the child is coming from, that affects whether or not you're going to have a lower or higher time. If you have foreign adoptions, those can take a long, long time, because now we're dealing with international law, and the state, the home country where the child comes from, may have their own requirements that have to happen before the child is allowed to be adopted. And and come to the United States. So just take a deep breath, talk to your attorney about what to expect and know that each step does take some time, but it will happen.

Steve Altishin  2:50  
And, you know, we had talked a little bit about how other different kinds of adoptions can take, just by the nature of what they are, different amounts of time. So let's talk a little bit about, you know, what are the different kinds of adoptions that occur?

Kimberly Brown  3:07  
The one that I think most people are less aware of, but actually happens quite frequently, is the adopting through the Oregon Department of Human Services and like agencies and other states that do the same thing. Children come into the custody of DHS in Oregon, through court termination proceedings, where the Department of Human Services is looking to terminate a parental right, or parents voluntarily giving their custody of the child to the state. Sometimes many times children come into the care of the Department of Human Services. And all these resources are offered to help the parents improve their parenting ability. And so the child is returned to the parents. That's the ultimate goals, which are the jobs of the parents, sometimes we just come into situations where the parents cannot be a are not able to parent the child. And so the state seeks to terminate parental rights. And when they do that, then the state places the child for adoption. I would say in most cases, this comes after a period of time in foster care, the child's in foster care for a while the rehabilitation of the parents is taking place. And that can take several years that before a parent's rights are terminated. And you know, it's really hard because I think that we have to remember that it's it's the right goal to reunite the child with their biological family. And it's it's actually a constitutional requirement to try to do so. And we want that we don't want somebody to be able to come into our own house, take our children and decide somebody else should adopt them. But sometimes I think if you're the person, fostering the child and wanting to adopt the child, it feels like they're just giving him 17 kinds of chances when they only deserve to, and so just have to take a deep breath and then the state has a priority of who they will, who they look to to adopt and usually they try to keep the child within the family. So if there's a relative who's available and wants to adopt, the state will place the child in a preference to that family member. It's a higher preference. But current caretakers are on equal footing with relatives. When this when they go to make a placement decision for an adoption, if the especially if the the relative has been late and coming in to seek the adoption, and there's been a foster parent that's been watching the child for several years. 

Steve Altishin  5:29  
Yeah. That obviously, it sounds like, depending on whether, you know, obviously if the actual parent says, Okay, I'll give up my parental rights, that's going to make it a lot shorter. But if not, I mean, that could add, like you said, two years and years. So now on the other end of that scale, you talked a little bit about those step parent adoption. So what are those like? 

Kimberly Brown  5:56  
All adoptions are warm and fuzzy, I just want to tell you that those of us that work in family law, as well as adoption, when we get an adoption, we're always happy. So are the judges. So it can be a great time, I mostly do step parent and second parent adoptions, because that's the most common adoption that comes through my office. And it's when one spouse adopts the other spouse child. And it can be done if the parties are married. Or if they're not married, it can be done with opposite sex couples, same sex couples in the state of Oregon. And oftentimes, the spouse who is the biological parent, in a step parent adoption, keeps their rights and then the step parent assumes the rights of a legal parent. And you have to terminate the other biological parents legal rights. And often that that is done simply by sending the documents to the to the other bio parent who's giving up their rights, and asking them to consent to the adoption. It is often painful for the biological parent, even if they have had little or no contact with the child to give up their parental rights. And so sometimes they have to be served with notice when we have to have a hearing, and have the hearing, assess whether or not it's appropriate for the child's to be adopted by the step parent. And we you have to have a background check. If you've been in Oregon for more than five years, it's just an Oregon background check. But every parent in the household along with the adoptive parent has to have a background check, not the birth parent, but any other adult in the house. And if there's any kind of concern that comes up about that person who wants to adopt the state may then require a home study. Because in step parent and second parent adoptions or parents or adoptions where there's just a relative adoption, they're not necessarily both birth parents are not adopting or giving up their rights, we can waive a home study, which shortens the time period quite a bit. And so that's often a good, good measure of timesavers if we can do it that way. 

Steve Altishin  7:55  
The one you sort of see in movies is where people go to a adoption agency. And those done that way? I mean, these private adoption agencies? 

Kimberly Brown  8:08  
Yeah. You know, I still think that most parents, when we have a situation where neither of the adoptive parents are at birth, parents are relative, adoption agencies are often still the entity that helps people adopt, and the agencies are allowed to take legal custody of a child and place them within adoptive parents, they're licensed to come through particular trainings and licensing requirements to be able to do this kind of work. And while the agency has the discretion about where to place the child, it's often done with a birth parent working right along with them, especially in today, where we have what we call them open adoptions. And how open they are really depends on the parties involved. It can be as little as you know, we'll send you pictures once a year to you have a right to communicate with the child after a certain period of time, the birth parent is given the right to communicate with the child after a period of time. And so often in those cases, the parents go to the agency. And they say we'd like to adopt a child that the agency has contacts with with different organizations that work with people giving up babies ready for adoption or giving up children ready for adoption. And so they work together with that. And in adoption situations. Often it is that there is no identified birth father, and so that consent to the Father may not be required. But I think it's if there's any possibility that the birth father could be known. Even if he's not going to do a DNA test, we want to get a consent from that party, just so that they can't come back later and could test it. The mothers can sign papers at birth mothers can sign papers anytime after birth, we usually try to wait a little bit so they make sure they're recovered from from the birth from giving birth and then that consent becomes revocable as soon as the child is placed with adoptive parents. So often if it's a newborn He gets placed directly from the hospital. And but sometimes it can be that the child has been in foster care somewhere else and then is placed into the care and custody of a parent.

Steve Altishin  10:10  
Are there other adoptions? So far, we've talked a lot about state involved. But in all these adoptions are their adoptions where the state really doesn't get involved hardly at all? Two people talk with a person who wants to adopt their child or parents who want to adopt a child, or you see where someone has been, you know, like a step son for 25 years, and now they want to adopt them when they're an adult. I mean, does that require as much stuff? 

Kimberly Brown  10:41  
Well, independent adoptions where the birth parent and the adopting parent may have made a decision together without the assistance of an adopted agency, or a foster care program, or that sort of stuff, those those, those are out there. And there will always be independent options, as long as the party as long as the adopted child is under the age of 18, there will always be some sort of state involvement, because the courts are state agency and they have to be the agency we go through to get the adoption. And then the same type of regulations regarding home studies, if they're necessary, regarding background checks if they're necessary. And so all of those come into independent adoptions. So if there's no relationship between biological relationship between the adoptive parents and the in the child's to be adopted, and the child's under the age of 18, you have to do a home study, you have to do background checks, you have to still get consents of the birth parents or birth parent. And there's medical and genetic information that you have to give. There's some laws regarding if a child is eligible to be enrolled in a Native American tribe that we have to address in regardless of what type of adoption we do. But then we also then in an independent options, especially we have to really look at what level of involvement are the parties going to agree to, between the birth parent and the adoptive parent, adult adoptions, you know, I've only done a couple of those. But I have to say, those are warm, fuzzy things, because parents have been involved with the with somebody, I'm doing one right now, where they've known each other for 17 years got kicked out of home when she was 15. The childhood and the child is now 42. And the parents just want to make it legal that they wish that she knows she's always been their children. And there's no home study required. There's no criminal records, but you do need consent of all of the parties to the adoption. So the adult adoptee needs to be consenting as well as the parents who are doing the adoption and and that you know, there's no abuse going on. Sometimes there's been histories of of adult people taking advantage of elderly people is the most common. And so real estate just wants to make sure that there's no abuse or nefarious reasons for the for the adoption to take place. And I just have to tell you the two of two I've done this year, I've just been so wonderful. And everybody Christ just because this is just legalizes what's already true. 

Steve Altishin  13:17  
Yeah, yeah. We we have talked and now gotten an understanding on why they go longer. You know, some of the other things that are involved and the things you have to get that you talked about, and the tests and everything that people need to go through. And so I kind of want to hear, before we go, on the legal requirements that are involved in adopting a child. Are there any I mean, there have to be some, obviously.

Kimberly Brown  13:52  
Well, you have to follow the pleading requirements and the document requirements in every adoption case, it's out there. So you can't just decide you're going to adopt somebody and then say it's say it's done. There's the legal requirements, somebody's rights are going to have to be terminated or reaffirmed. In Oregon, we do have that it's possible to have more than two parents adopt a child. And so I've done a couple of cases where like a mom, a birth, mom and grandparents have adopted the child. Sometimes there's just situations where there's three parties that want to adopt the child, those can all happen, but you still have to make sure that you go through the criminal background checks for children under the age of 18. That you've that if it's appropriate, you've done a home study report. So So yes, there are legal requirements, you have to be a person who has not been convicted of abuse, or you know, have alcohol issues, those kinds of things. So there are steps you have to go through for illegal adoption. 

Steve Altishin  14:50  
Do you, kind of a crazy question, does it matter where you live? Do you have to live in Oregon? I mean, do you have to live in a certain county or are there any of those kinds of things? You know, where do you go to make the adoption?

Kimberly Brown  15:03  
In general, one of the parties to the adoption has to be in Oregon. So one of the parties adopting that, where the child is born. And you have to have that there's a six month residency requirement in Oregon, or there has to be a custody case that exists in Oregon that retains the jurisdiction over it. So there are some requirements that you have to be you can't live in Utah and use Oregon, as the adopting state unless one of the parties is is in Oregon, or from Oregon. And so you see, those are, those are important.

Steve Altishin  15:39  
But it doesn't matter where the kid is? 

Kimberly Brown  15:43  
Not necessarily, but you have to be careful about the interstate compact. So if the child was born in Oregon, and then the child's already in Utah, and you're doing the adoption here in Oregon, you may not have done the interstate compact, which is the information trade between the states about child leaving one state to another state.

Steve Altishin  15:58  
Oh, my gosh, well, now we can see why adoptions take as long as they do, I guess. We're gonna go pretty quick, but just a brief sort of piece of wisdom if someone is just sitting there waiting and frustrated.

Kimberly Brown  16:14  
Know that good things come to those who wait. It's very frustrating. And the legal system is often frustrating because of the delay in the time that things can take. But every step that is checked off, every requirement that is checked off, means you're getting closer to the time when that child is as if that child had been born to you. So take a deep breath, and know that as quickly as it's can be done, it's being done, and that everything has to be done so that there's no problems down the road. 

Steve Altishin  16:47  
Yep, everything for a reason. Thank you, Kimberly, for sitting down and talking with us about how long an adoption takes and what information is needed to get started and getting prepared. And I just want to thank you again for being here. 

Kimberly Brown  17:01  
Thank you for asking me. 

Steve Altishin  17:03  
Oh, it's great. And thank you, everyone for joining us today. If anyone has further questions, feel free to contact our firm, we can get you connected with an attorney who can help. Stay safe, stay happy, and be well.

This has been Modern Family Matters, a legal podcast focusing on providing real answers and direction for individuals and families. Our podcast is sponsored by Pacific Cascade Legal, serving families in Oregon and Washington. If you are in need of legal counsel or have additional questions about a family law matter important to you, please visit our websites at or You can also call our headquarters at (503) 227-0200 to schedule a case evaluation with one of our seasoned attorneys. Modern Family Matters, advocating for your better tomorrow and offering legal solutions important to the modern family.