Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adopting from Russia

In 2007, the US Embassy in Moscow, Russia issued 2, 310 immigrant visa's to Russian orphans adopted by American citizens, making Russia the third largest sending country in international adoption (with China in first place and Guatemala (now closed) in second). Since 2002, approximately 28,000 Russian orphans have been adopted by US citizens. As reported by US Immigration, 49% of Russian children adopted in 2006 were female, 7% were under the age of 1, 65% were between the ages of 1-4, and 27% were 5 years and older.

It is estimated that there are more than 600,000 children living "without parental care" in Russia (not all of these children are available for adoption however). Since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union, many families in former Soviet nations are struggling to survive, making poverty one of the most common factors in the relinquishment of children. Approximately one third of the children living without parental care in Russia reside in institutions. The rest of the children typically live with guardians or are under police jurisdiction. There are generally two categories of children available: babies relinquished at the hospital at birth to orphanages and older children who have been removed from their homes due to severe poverty, neglect and/or abuse.

The central adoption authority in Russia is the Ministry of Education and Science. Although Russia is not part of the Hague Convention on Adoption, US citizens who wish to adopt a Russian child must work with an agency accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science in Russia or with an agency who works through another agency accredited by the Ministry of Education (you may also have the option of working with a private adoption attorney in Russia). A complete list of accredited agencies can be found here (click on "adoption" and scroll down the page).

Russia's requirements for adoption are not as strict as many countries. Currently, the Russian government has no age restriction for adoptive parents with the exception that single adoptive parent's must be at least 16 years older than their adopted child. There are also no formal restrictions regarding the length of marriage of adoptive parents or number of children already residing in the home, however these requirements may differ from region to region (for example, some regional officials prefer no more than 3 children already in the home, etc.). Singles are also permitted to adopt.

Most agencies work within select regions in Russia. Once your dossier is completed, it is translated and submitted to and processed by the Ministry of Education officials within the region you intend to adopt. Once your dossier has been processed you will be issued a referral by the Ministry (usually consisting of a picture(s) and brief history/medical synopsis of the child/children). In some cases a formal referral will not be issued prior to travel. In these cases, once your dossier has been processed, Ministry officials will then extend an invitation to travel where they will present your with your referral face-to-face.

As of April 2000, adoptive parents are required to appear personally before the Ministry to accept their referral. This means that families adopting from Russia are required to make two trips. The first trip is to officially accept your referral and meet your child/children (both parents are required to make this trip). The second trip is to attend court and complete the adoption (in some regions only one parent is required to make this trip, in others, both parents are required). The first trip is approximately 5-7 days. The second trip generally last between 2-3 weeks depending on whether or not the 10-day wait following court is waived (in some regions and under some circumstances (such as in the adoption of a medically fragile child) officials will waive the 10-day wait, however, this is being seen less and less and in some regions, not at all). Following court and the 10-day wait, families will then receive their child's new birth certificate and passport and will register their child with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow. They will then process through the US Embassy and receive their child's visa to travel back to the US.

Children available for adoption in Russia are between 8 months and 16 years of age (in order to be eligible for international adoption children must be placed on a regional, and then national, registry for a total of 8 months during which time they are available only to Russian citizens). Sibling groups and children with special needs are available for adoption as well.

Russia is one of the more expensive countries to adopt from with an average cost of $35,000. The time line for adoption from Russia, from completed dossier to referral is, on average, 6-12 months although this will vary from region to region.

For more information regarding adoption from Russia, please take a moment to visit the following links:

Russian Adoption Blogs:

1 comment:

Dunstan Family said...

Thank you for all of this information. It is nice to read and hear and honest opinion.