The international adoption process has changed dramatically within the last 6-8 years. The wait times to adopt internationally have grown, and there no longer are countries that are “easy” or a quick processes.
Adoption is one of the most significant decisions a family can make.
As strange as it may sound, we always suggest that families be very selfish in this decision, and consider carefully all of the following factors:
- Age of the child/children to be adopted
- Medical issues
- Age of other children in the family
- Adjustment time of the whole family, including the new family member
- Work schedule
- Other obligations within the family, such as aging parents, etc.
- School system they are in and resources available to adopted children
- Importance of initial evaluation and addressing concerns that may arise from such evaluation
- The extensive personal attention that the adopted child and other children at home will need.
This list can go on and on.
When the family is unanimous that adoption will benefit the entire family, and they are emotionally prepared to adopt, Ukraine may be one of the best options for them. Ukraine offers many advantages in comparison with other countries if the family is hoping to proceed and complete an adoption in a timely manner.
Ukraine permits the following adoption situations:
- Adoption of children 5 years old and up
- There are more opportunities if the family is open to a range of age of at least 5-9 years old and is open to any gender
- There are a number of sibling groups who are waiting for adoptive families and Ukraine will allow the adoption of a sibling group where one of the kids is under 5 to make sure that children are not separated; ages can vary from 4-9 or younger.
- Rules allow the adoption of children under age 5 if they have certain special needs which allow them to be considered for international adoption.
The Ministry of Social Policy in Ukraine does not allow families to receive medical information on children prior to traveling. The family must obtain this information during a meeting at the Ministry. It is imperative that the placing agency the family is working with properly prepares them prior to travel to ask the right questions and connects the family prior with knowledgeable international adoption MD’s to quickly and thoroughly assess the medical information for the children. This is the best way to protect the family and the child from completing an adoption the adoptive parents are not adequately able to care for. If the family feels they can meet the needs of the child, it is most likely to be the right placement and everybody benefits.
Each adoptive family must be diligent to ensure that the agency they are working with is knowledgeable and ethical, and works with an experienced coordinator in that country who is fully committed to walking the family through every stage of the process.
An Outline of the process to adopt from Ukraine:
- Home Study: This is the process to qualify a family to adopt. It is a complete evaluation of the prospective adoptive family’s preparation to adopt a child and their ability to care for an internationally-adopted child. It has to be completed by a licensed adoption agency in the state in which the adoptive parents reside. Even though Ukraine is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, they require a certificate of Hague accreditation from the placing agency. The timeframe is six to ten weeks on average to complete the home study process.
- Application to USCIS: This is the commencement of the immigration process for a child to be adopted from another country. The approval by USCIS can take up to 3 months.
- Dossier preparation: This is the package of documents required by the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine to enable a family to adopt. The placement agency is responsible for providing the full list of required documents and walking the family through it. One month is a more than sufficient amount of time to prepare the dossier packet.
- Your placement agency should triple check your dossier, including having it pre-reviewed by the coordinator, before sending it to Ukraine. The dossier has to be dated within six months of the submission date, but preferably the documents will be much more current than 6 months. After the coordinator submits documents to the Ministry of the Social Policy, it takes 20 business days for officials to review your documents.
- If documents are correct, the Ministry will issue a registration number. That means everything is correct and according to requirements.
- There is a possibility of rejection if the Ministry requires some changes in the dossier documents.
- Once the documents are registered, within one week of the approval, the Ministry will provide a date to the coordinator for an appointment with the family.
- The adoptive parents can travel to Ukraine within a month from the approval letter.
- Each family has the right to meet with the Ministry three (3) times.
- Upon arrival to Ukraine, the agency coordinator is responsible for walking the family through every step of the process. The placing agency prepares the family prior to their travel and the coordinator is usually a part of the family’s meetings with a psychologist at the Ministry. They offer profiles of children legally cleared for international adoption in accordance with the age, health, gender or any other criterion identified in the home study.
- If the family identifies a child, they receive permission to meet with the child in the region where the child lives.
- The Ministry allows ten working days to communicate with the child by visiting the orphanage. Many families will make the decision to adopt within a shorter time frame.
- If the family is ready to proceed, they have a meeting with the notary who certifies their decision to adopt a certain child.
- Both parents have to appear in court, which takes place approximately 20 days after the family accepts the child, depending on availability of the judge.
Each adoptive family can break the process into 2-4 trips if they are unable to stay for the entire time.
- 1st trip is 3 weeks to 1 month, or the family can spend ten days and then return to go to court in two weeks (or up to 1.5 months) later.
- 2nd trip is 2 weeks, approximately. One parent can travel with a power of attorney from the spouse, but we always suggest that for bonding purposes, the family should travel together.
If the family is not comfortable with the child and not ready to take on a certain background or medical condition, they have two or more opportunities to meet with the Ministry representative. The families need to consult with their placing agencies to make sure their documents are within the required time range if a second or third trip with the Ministry are scheduled.
Adoption from Ukraine is a good option for families who are married, as Ukraine does not allow single parent adoptions. It offers an opportunity for a family to complete an adoption within a year if they are open to a child 5 years and up, and/or to sibling groups.
Our main suggestion is to educate yourself about certain medical conditions you may be comfortable with, including attachment and bonding issues. You can contact international adoption specialists such as the following:
Dr. Jenista: firstname.lastname@example.org OR (734)-668-0419
Dr. Bledsoe and Dr. Davies: (206) 598-3000
Dr. Ron Federici: email@example.com OR (703) 830-6052
Or, you can read books such as:
“Adopting the Hurt Child” or “Parenting the Hurt Child” by Dr. Keck
“Parenting with Love and Logic” by Keefer and Schooler
“Telling the Truth to Your Adopted or Foster Child” by Keefer and Schooler
We, as an agency, are always open for conference calls and meetings to answer questions and to guide families in this exciting and life changing journey.
Please ask questions, understand the process, and what you can and can’t do. We are always glad to help and be a resource for you.
Inna Pecar, MSW, LCSW
Director of KidsFirst Adoption and originally
KidsFirst Adoption Services, LLC is a licensed child placing agency in Indiana. Our license allows us to work with families living in any state. We are also a Hague Accredited agency. We place children internationally from Bulgaria, Poland, the Dominican Republic, and Ukraine. We also have a domestic adoption program. We offer international and domestic placement services, as well as home study and post-adoption services. We work closely with each family to ensure a successful adoption. We pride ourselves in our ability to offer adoptive families the personal attention they deserve before, during, and after the adoption.