Q&A: Switching Adoption Agencies for Shorter Wait?

My husband and I have been trying to adopt for four years. We switched agencies and chose to adopt from China. Because I'm 47 (my husband is 39) and the wait for a referral so long—I feel my options are running out. Our agency currently has a program in Bulgaria and we may switch to it. What is your opinion on the wait time for a referral there? Should we stick out the wait for a Chinese child?
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profile picture of Dawn Davenport
Updated January 30, 2017
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I’m so sorry you are stuck in this cycle. You seem to have had more than your share of bad luck. I have a couple of thoughts on your situation. First, I would not get out of the queue for China, but I think you do have good reason to worry. I don’t know all the details, but it seems to me your agency should have warned you when you applied last February that you may run into a timing problem, since the upper age for someone adopting a non-special needs child is 49. Even as of last February, I estimate at least 30 months on my adoption chart for China (see the Country Charts at

The truth is that no one really knows what will happen to future waiting times for adopting from China. There is some thought that once the Chinese government catches up with the backlog of dossiers that were in line before the changes to parental restrictions in May 2007, the waiting times will decrease. On the other hand, the Chinese government has indicated that they are seeing fewer baby girls abandoned, perhaps because they have various campaigns to encourage parents to keep their female infants. China is also making a push to increase domestic adoption. So, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Chinese adoptions in the future. We did a Creating a Family radio show on this topic on August 6, 2008. Visit our site and you can learn more about what some experts think will happen.

Have you considered switching to the  special needs (aka waiting child) program for China? Special needs can include medically correctable conditions, such as cleft palate or clubfoot. It can also include more life-altering illnesses, but you can choose which conditions to consider. The waiting time for adopting a child with special needs is much shorter. If you choose to go this route, I hope your agency has a special needs program in China so you don’t have to change your place in line.

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I’m also unsure of what will happen with Bulgarian international adoptions, and I still rate adoptions from this country as unstable. Although I certainly wouldn’t withdraw your dossier from China, while your dossier continues to wind its way up the wait in one country, most agencies will allow you to do a concurrent adoption from a second country. Check our Country Charts to see which countries would be best for you and your husband.

I suppose you have considered and ruled out adopting from the US foster care system. If not, it is certainly worth looking into. The cost is minimal or free, and the waiting times vary greatly depending on what you are looking for.

You might also want to research embryo donation/adoption. If you are in good health, your age is not necessarily a factor. However, some agencies do restrict older moms. Our site has the largest collection of resources for those considering embryo donation/adoption. Look under either Adoption Resources or Infertility Resources.

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