Overview of the Adoption Process


Any couple or individual interested in the ECFA Adoption Program must speak with an adoption worker to see if ECFA is a good fit for their family.


Every couple or individual must attend an orientation (even if they have previously adopted through ECFA). During the one-hour free orientation, application and licensing documents are given to the applicant(s) and the adoption process is explained in detail.

Case Opening:

Completion of the following documents is required before case activities can begin: application, autobiographies, Statement of Faith, Pastoral Reference document, Adoption Information form, and application fee of $300.00.

The Application Packet can be dropped off or mailed to:

Barbara Hellmer
Adoption Program, ECFA
1530 North Main Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Families pursuing an international adoption must pick a “placing agency” before beginning the family study process.

Pastoral Consultant Meeting:

Once the case is opened, but before the family study begins, the intake worker will contact ECFA’s pastoral consultant to request an interview with the applicants. The pastoral consultant will then contact the applicants to schedule an interview.

Family Study Process:

The family study involves four to six visits, all at the ECFA office, except the final visit, which occurs in the family’s home. Examples of topics covered in a family study include the following: information on the families of origin; health; marriage issues; adjustment and readiness of existing children; experience with children; employment and finances; adoption-related training; home and community/neighborhood; guardianship; religious background; motivation to adopt; the type of child a family is considering; and helping the family to understand their limitations. The family study and approval process typically takes about 12-16 weeks to complete. At the end of the family study, the adoption team reaches a consensus regarding the readiness of the family.

Waiting Period:

ECFA Domestic Adoptions: Families typically wait 1 ½ – 3 years before being chosen by birth parent(s). Birth parents choose the family from family profiles they have been given to review. Once a family is chosen, a meeting is scheduled between the birth parent(s) and prospective adoptive parents to discuss various aspects of the adoption plan. No identifying information is shared between the parties.

Other Domestic Adoptions (special needs, interstate, and private): A number of factors influence the waiting time for these types of adoptions. ECFA is not involved in matching or placing children with prospective adoptive parents in these types of placements.

International Adoptions: The international placing agency has the sole responsibility for matching families with available children. International adoption waiting times can vary widely.

Domestic Placement: When the infant is ready for discharge from the hospital, s/he is either placed in the prospective adoptive family’s home or with a Baby Care home until Surrenders have been signed. The earliest a birth mother can sign a Surrender is 72 hours after her baby’s birth.


ECFA Domestic Adoptions: ECFA conducts at minimum three post-placement visits at one month, three months, and six months after placement.

Other Domestic Adoptions (special needs, interstate, and private): The number of post-placement visits depends upon the placing agency’s requirements and the requirements of the state in which the child was born.

International Adoptions: ECFA conducts at minimum three post-placement visits (typically one month, six months, and 12 months). Additional visits may be required by the child’s country of origin.

Finalization of Adoption:

ECFA domestic adoptions: Once adoption Surrenders have been signed and the infant is placed, the family retains an attorney to petition to the court for the adoption finalization. An adoption cannot be finalized until the infant has been placed in the home a minimum of six months.

Other Domestic Adoptions (special needs, interstate, and private):Adoption finalizations are petitioned and filed according to the requirements of the state of the child’s birth.

International Adoptions: In most cases, adoptions are finalized in the child’s country of origin. If the child is not adopted in his/her country of origin, the adoption must be finalized in Illinois.

If requested, ECFA will provide families with a list of adoption attorneys that former ECFA clients have utilized.