Adoption Process Slow but Rewarding

March 31, 2006 – Posted at 3:58 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- First it was Tom and Nicole, then Rosie, then Brad and Angelina and now Jessica Simpson is jumping on board. What do all of these celebs have in common? They're adoptive parents.

With adoption all the rage in Hollywood ... it's no surprise that the trend is catching on. Good news for the nearly half-million children waiting to become part of a family.

"We have hundreds upon hundreds of older children or what we call special needs children in this country that need to be adopted, but a lot of people want infants, but there are more and more people adopting special needs children," said Paul Schandevel, Director of Child & Family Services for Children's Homes, Inc.

There are around 3,000 children in the state's custody in Arkansas ...most available for adoption.

"It takes too long to adopt. There are people in their second and third year finalizing adoptions. Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's long," said Schandevel.

After having trouble conceiving, Amanda Thomas and her husband looked to adoption.

"We also decided to adopt because my sister-in-law is adopted and my husband was like 'you know if we can't have kids, I'm very for the adoption process,' so he just accepted her with open arms and was willing to do that with anybody else," said Thomas.

Still in the process, they are adopting two little boys through the state, ages four and two.

"We have discussed with them and told them to an extent about what is going on. Now, when they get older and can understand a little more about why they are with us, then we will tell them more," said Thomas.

Thomas says the process has been slow, but hopes to be an 'official' family in about six months.

"It's been a long and tedious process, but at the same time it's been very rewarding and very exciting, starting something new. It went from just me and my husband to now an instant family...thank goodness no diapers or bottles or anything like that. But it's been a rewarding experience and I would recommend it to anybody," laughed Thomas.

To adopt a child through the state like the Thomas family is doing is free. The adoptive family does not have to pay for court costs or attorneys.