Ukrainian Adoption Process

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International adoption is an amazing experience.  During the process of meeting and visiting your child(ren), you are also able to submerge yourself in the culture in which they come from.  The process of adoption is not easy in any country, even domestically.  However, if you take it a chunk at a time, it is very doable.  There is the question that comes to mind in this situation, “How do you go about eating an elephant?  One bite at a time!”.  This rings true to the adoption process. 

Due to the nature of how the government and orphanage officials work in Ukraine, it is imperative that you have a strong facilitator and an experienced translator.  Your agency that you decide to use stateside will give you recommendations on a facilitator and the facilitator will provide you with a translator.  With all of that being said, here is a breakdown of the adoption process that is unique to Ukraine:

  • Choose an adoption agency: For hosting we always recommend to choose the agency you would like to do the adoption through.
  • Family submits an application to the agency.
  • Family chooses a homestudy agency. This may be the same as your adoption agency if they have an office in your state, but it may be a different agency that coordinates with your “placing” (adoption) agency
  • Complete the homestudy process. Click HERE for an explanation of what a homestudy is.
  • I600A is filed with USCIS.  This application is seeking approval from the United States government for the adoptive parents to adopt internationally.
  • Complete Dossier compilation. Click HERE for an explanation of what a dossier is.
  • Complete Apostilles and Notaries required in the Dossier - This is the certification of the documents in your dossier.  It is done by the Secretary of State and fees and timelines vary by state.
  • Send the Dossier to your agency for initial approval (no mistakes) and to be forwarded to your facilitator in Ukraine.
  • Facilitator to submit the completed Dossier to the Ukrainian Government (Ministry of Social Policy) for approval to adopt in Ukraine.
  • Invitation to visit child(ren)- Once you are approved to adopt formally in Ukraine, after about a month you will receive an invitation to meet a Government Official that works on behalf of the children in Kyiv. If you are trying to adopt a “known” child, they will pull their file for you.  If you do not know the child they will go through a book with you to select a child for you to meet.  You will have up to 3 children to meet.  Once the file is determined, they will work to get you the referral for the child the next day.
  • Go to the orphanage to meet the child(ren).  Once the referral is in hand, you can make your way to the orphanage under your facilitators guidance and supervision.  They will take you to meet the orphanage director and eventually meet the child.  If the meeting goes well and you would like to proceed, the parents and child will need to fill out some paperwork that will go back to the government offices in Kyiv for review and final approval.  This process usually takes a couple of weeks to a month and parents are encouraged to go back home to wait for the approval.
  • Your facilitator will let you know when the approval is given.  When it is, there will also be a court date given as there will be a necessary hearing in which the process will be made official.
  • Return to Ukraine for Court.  Parents are to return to Ukraine for the court proceeding.  After a Ukrainian civil court approves an adoption decree, the judgement will not go into effect until 30 calendar days have passed to allow for an appeal to be filed.  The parents can go home again or wait in country during this time.
  • Pick up your child!  Once the adoption decree is valid, you may pick up your child and complete final documents at the orphanage.
  • Once the child is with you, the facilitator will take you and the child to get a new tax identification number with their new name.  This is similar to a social security number that they will need in order to receive a new international passport with their new name for travel back to the US.
  • Apply for a new passport.  This can take about a week, but has been known to take a bit longer.
  • Child must be taken to a designated doctor in Kyiv approved by the US Embassy for a physical examination.
  • Complete US Embassy requirements for obtaining citizenship and a Visa for Travel. (Complete the I600A and the DS-260 application) per their instructions.
  • Travel Home!!!

There are so many details that are hard to put into one article, but we will try to address some common issues.

Who can be adopted in Ukraine?

Under the INA 101(b)(1)(F), a child can be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents, or in the case where there is a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.

In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements of Ukraine:

Eligibility for adoption: In order for a child to be eligible for intercountry adoption in Ukraine, the child must have first been found eligible for domestic adoption and listed on the local register for 14 months. If no suitable family has been found in Ukraine after 14 months of being listed on the local register, and if the child is over the age of five, the child’s name is added to the intercountry adoption register and the child becomes eligible for intercountry adoption (unless an exemption applies).

Age of Adoptive Child: Ukrainian law requires that orphans be at least five years old before they are eligible for intercountry adoption, with certain exemptions for children with special needs, relative adoptions, and sibling adoptions. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 [or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who meets the age requirements and immigrated or will immigrate as an orphan based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)]. Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.

Can we hold a child that we previously met for adoption?

No, Ukraine does not hold children and considers their adoptions as “blind”. However, you can request a specific child, they just won’t hold them for you.

Can a child say “no” to adoption?

Yes, they certainly can!  If a child says no to adoption and you think they just need more time, your facilitator should be able to get time approved for them to get to know you better for a final decision.

Who qualifies to adopt in Ukraine?

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Ukraine must meet the following requirements:

  • Minimum Residency: None
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old to adopt from Ukraine. They must be at least 15 years older than the adopted child. There is no maximum age difference requirement. If a child is being adopted by a relative, the age difference is not considered.
  • Marriage: Only married couples can adopt from Ukraine. Single individuals are only permitted to adopt from Ukraine if they are related to the adopted child.
  • Minimum Income: Ukraine uses the U.S. Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines as a standard requirement for all immigrants from Ukraine, as well as for prospective adoptive parents adopting children from Ukraine.
  • Other requirements: Ukraine will not allow persons who have been declared completely or partially disabled (both mentally and physically) to adopt children from Ukraine. Also, anyone who has previously had parental rights or a previous adoption, guardianship, or foster care relationship terminated involuntarily will not be allowed to adopt from Ukraine. Same sex couples are not allowed to adopt from Ukraine.

Where do we stay?

Your facilitator will help you find an apartment or hotel in which to stay.

How do we get around?

Usually by taxi or hiring a driver, your facilitator or translator can help.  If going from region to region, it may be best to take a train.

Where do we eat?

There are many restaurants in each area and they are usually very good and inexpensive.  If you are staying in an apartment, you may want to venture out to a grocery store and cook at the apartment.

Will I have time to bond in Ukraine with my child?

Yes!  After you pick up your child, you will have a couple of weeks in-country while gaining their passport and Visa.  Use this time wisely!  There are many local attractions in their regions or when you are in Kyiv, there is a lot to do!  There are malls, soccer games, restaurants, museums, many historical sites, ice skating, opera, circus, etc..  Don’t be afraid to enjoy the culture and get to know where your child is from!  If they are from a rural area, they may never have experienced these things as well!

The US Embassy website in Ukraine provides a wealth of information when it comes to the details of the laws of adoption.  Some of the information above has been extracted from the site.

US Embassy Website

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