Step #07 - Waiting for Referral



Your future child's room is ready, you've turned in all required documents, and your adoption agency submits the dossier to the chosen country. It is at this time the waiting really begins for many families.

First, prospective parents await the return of the form I-171H. This form is sent from INS when the file for adoption is complete. The form establishes that prospective parents are official candidates for adoption. Upon receiving this form prospective parents should notify the adoption agency and home study agency.

Secondly, prospective parents await the arrival of the referral. Depending on which country prospective parents are adopting from the wait time will vary greatly. The other factor that affects the referral wait time is the age and needs of the child being adopted. Prospective parents that adopt older children, siblings, and children with special needs have a significantly shorter wait time that those adopting healthy infants. Countries have referral wait time from 0 months to over 2 years. This information can be discussed with your adoption agency at the beginning of the adoption process. Receiving the referral means that prospective parents have been matched with a child in need of adoption. The referral usually comes at first via a phone call from the adoption agency followed by all known information about the child and a photograph. Receiving the referral is a time of high excitement and a major milestone in the process. 

A great way to pass the time is to learn more about your country, where you'll be going, etc.  You can also encourage yourself with other people's adoption stories.

Travel Preview

The adoption agency will be the liaison between the prospective parents and the country adoption authority and court system. Once a court date is set, which may take weeks to months, the necessary information is presented and the adoption is completed. It is at this time that prospective parents become adoptive parents. Each country has a specific way of completing a international adoption. In addition, the state in which the family resides may have specific requirements as well. For more information on how the adoption is actually completed contact an adoption agency and inquire about a specific country program. Many countries requires post placements reports and visits after the child has come home before the adoption may be finalized.

Parents may choose to travel or have their child escorted. There are several countries that require parents to travel and this will be disclosed through the adoption agency at the time of inquiry into adoption. Either way, through escort or travel, the union of parent and child occurs which begins the first day as a new family.


The International Adoption Handbook

Myra Alperson

The Unofficial Guide to Adopting a Child

Andrea DellaVecchio

The Ultimate Insiders Guide to Adoption

Elizabeth Swire Falker

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