As an adoptive family who spent a great deal of time making a choice of a country of adoption, I would like to share our knowledge and experience with those who decided to embark on international adoption but have not chosen a country yet.
We had been considering adopting internationally for several years before we adopted twice from Ukraine. I read and analyzed myriads of posts, tons of official info, references and so on over that time.
Being a person of analytical and a little skeptical disposition I could not rely on one source of information when collecting info on international adoption and therefore it took us comparatively much time to make a decision on the country and especially on a source of adoption assistance in the country.
And I hope this post will help most of prospective adoptive families avoid widespread mistakes and will save some time.
So moving to the point, I recommend that any prospective adoptive family should start with 4 simple steps:
1. Decide on age range, gender, number and state of health of children they want and are ready to adopt.
2. Decide on time and financial resources they can spend on international adoption
3. Choose the most suitable country for their adoption criteria and aforementioned resources
4. Find a reliable and competent source of adoption assistance in a country of adoption.
Knowing what you want and having a strict plan of actions will deprive you of unnecessary doubts and hesitations or at least reduce them to a minimum.
As a person who adopted twice from Ukraine, I am helping my relative to adopt from Ukraine now. Yesterday our neighbors also said that they planned on adopting from Ukraine and asked for our help.
So now I feel responsible to stay informed on the current adoption situation in Ukraine. And also I have decided to share my knowledge with others who are choosing a country for adoption.
As I wrote before after long and thorough analysis we chose Ukraine as a country for adoption because:
1. We were looking to adopt Caucasian children and people who live in Ukraine are Caucasian.
2. Just one trip is required to adopt from this country
3. Average duration of this trip is 30 to 40 days
4. A trip can be broken down to several trips if necessary
5. One parent can remain in the country to finalize the process after court
6. Both adoption through agencies and independent adoptions are possible in Ukraine which makes adoption from Ukraine financially more affordable than adoption from some other countries.
7. Ukraine is a favorable country for adoption for those who are flexible in adoption criteria like age, number of kids and state of health
8. Ukraine is a good country for adoption of older kids
9. Ukraine is a very favorable country for those who want to adopt kids with special needs
10. One of spouses can adopt from Ukraine
As to us we were flexible in our adoption criteria. Both times our homestudy and petition to adopt said ֓up to three kids from 3 to 12 years old in good health condition or with minor chronic / surgically correctable conditions
PLEASE, NOTE: According to Ukrainian legislation international adoption of kids under 5 years old is allowed only if such kids are adopted with their older siblings by the same family.
So if you want to adopt a child under 5, you can do that only if you adopt all his/her siblings with this child.
And it is impossible to adopt single healthy child under 5 years old in Ukraine.
Also I do not think that Ukraine is a very good country for adoption of SINGLE HEALTHY kids or kids with minor conditions under 7 Ԗ 8 years old.
As I have notices most of the kids who are available for international adoption have siblings who are inseparable.
But I am not saying that it is impossible to adopt single healthy child in Ukraine. I personally know several families who successfully adopted single kids in good health from Ukraine. But all of them except for one had more than one interview with the SDA (State Department for Adoption central adoption authority in Ukraine).
So I think that adoption of single healthy kids may be more difficult than adoption of a sibling group in Ukraine.
Here is a general description of the process in Ukraine:
- As soon as an adoption dossier is ready it is sent to Ukraine to be submitted to the SDA.
- If your dossier is approved by the SDA, you get an invitation letter from the SDA and come to the SDA for an interview on the appointed day. During this interview they show you profiles of kids who potentially can suit your adoption criteria relating to age, gender and state of health. PLEASE, NOTE that any pre-selection of kids is prohibited by Ukrainian legislation. It means that families can see profiles of kids only during their official interview with the State Department for Adoption.
- After choosing children by profiles, families go to a region in which chosen children stay. If they like chosen children and establish connection with them, families file for adoption of chosen children with local Children֒s service and court. If connection with chosen kids has not been established, families come back to the SDA for the second interview to choose other children. PLEASE, NOTE that families can have 3 interviews with the SDA. Database of the SDA is being replenished with new kids on a daily basis.
- Families get a date of a court hearing when all the paperwork is ready for court.
- A court decree comes into force in 10 days after a court hearing if no appeal has been lodged.
- Families get new birth certificates and foreign passports for adopted children, get physical examination of children done and apply for visas.
- Families get visas for adopted kids and come back home with kids.
We adopted siblings in 2009: 6 and 8 y.o. Our adoption process lasted for 25 days in Ukraine in 2009.
In 2011 we also adopted a sibling group aged 8 and 11 years. We stayed for 42 days in Ukraine in 2011.
Both times we used the same adoption facilitator.
As our experience and experience of dozens of families I corresponded with and whose posts I read before adopting from Ukraine prove finding a competent, experienced and reliable source of adoption assistance is the most important thing in any international adoption process.
With Ukraine adoption you can choose to adopt through an adoption agency or adopt independently by hiring an adoption facilitator directly.
It is a matter of your personal preference and/or financial resources.
But this choice is one of the most important in adoption process.
That is why I recommend that any prospective adoptive family should get enough references from other families and different official sources on an adoption agency or facilitator they consider hiring.
If you chose to adopt through an agency, I recommend that you should get not only references on agency but also on adoption facilitator this agency subcontract in Ukraine. It is very desirable that you make sure that your agency will refer you to competent, experienced and caring facilitator in Ukraine because as soon as you hit the Ukrainian land your agency will hardly be able to control any part of adoption process in Ukraine.
At this point I noticed that most of the agencies I contacted when choosing a source of adoption assistance did not want to share information on facilitators they subcontracted in Ukraine. That was quite confusing.
But I found several US agencies that looked quite reliable to us too.
As to adopting independently from Ukraine you can also choose to hire Ukrainian adoption facilitator directly. But in this case your choice should be based on a very thorough check and analysis of competence and reliability of your adoption facilitator.
This is not an easy choice as well as there are many adoption facilitators with different fees ranging from suspiciously small fees to pretty high ones.
When choosing a source of adoption assistance we were looking for a combination of reliable and competent services with reasonable fees.
I was responsible for phone talks and correspondence with those who had adopted from Ukraine, reading their post, requesting for references and so on. It took us over two months to find a reliable source of adoption assistance with reasonable fees in Ukraine.
Finally we found an adoption facilitator who actually also works with Hague accredited licensed US adoption agencies. And we hired him independently.
The most convincing facts about our adoption facilitator for us were:
1. He has been working in adoptions since 1999
2. He had facilitated over 150 adoptions by 2008
3. All the references we got on him and his competence were excellent and none of the families we contacted had a bad word on him. All of them underlined his competence, professionalism, honesty and reliability that were the most important things for us.
4. We found his fees the most reasonable
5. His contract is definitely the most clear and unequivocal compared to numerous other ones that we reviewed.
6. His contract does not provide for any upfront payments in Ukraine. When you get to Ukraine you pay only for a job that has been done.
7. Our facilitator֒s services include assistance in composing adoption dossier correctly.
Our facilitators fee for this service was insignificant compared to fees of agencies. He helped us to compose our adoption dossier without a single mistake by providing us with detailed instructions on each document of our dossier and checking all our adoption documents. Considering that Ukrainian adoption authority (SDA) rejects dossiers that contain mistakes making families resubmit their dossiers that takes pretty much time, it is very important to compose adoption dossier in compliance with the requirements of Ukrainian law. It saves you much time and money.
8. His contract can be tailored for specific needs of any prospective adoptive family, giving them opportunity to exclude services they do not need or add any extra services.
Based on these facts we chose our facilitator and we used his services twice: in 2009 and 2011.
And I can hardly agree with those people on this forum who wrote that a role of adoption facilitators is narrowed down to a role of a translator.
When you decide to adopt from a foreign country, you never know what kind of difficulties you may encounter and what kind of help you may need. So I recommend every prospective adoptive family to make sure that adoption facilitators they choose possess not only a good command of English, but also have competence in adoption law and substantial experience in adoptions.
If our facilitator was just a good translator, we would not have adopted our four kids.
In our adoption experience we had a case when biological mother intervened in the adoption process when we were gathering documents for court in Ukraine. She lived nearby the orphanage and never visited her kids. But as soon as she learned that Americans came to adopt the children to whom she gave birth, she stepped in.
She hired a free of charge lawyer and applied to the local ChildrenҒs Service for retrieval of her parental rights.
That could have halted our adoption process for a pretty long time or even could have made it impossible at all, if we had not been blessed with our adoption facilitator.
He settled this issue with bio mother and her lawyer without any extra payments.
It took him two meetings with bio mother and her lawyer to explain to them their situation, their rights, opportunities and options in that situation and our position and our rights and opportunities.
Our second adoption from Ukraine required a trip to Russia as our older son was born in Tumen, Russia and one had to go to Russia to obtain a new birth certificate for him.
Russian federation has a little different procedural steps after court which made Russian authorities insist on getting Ukrainian court decree recognized by Russian government which required at least a month or two. And I have read posts of those American families whose adoption facilitators had to do what Russian vital registry officers said. That was horrible. Families had to spend extra several thousand dollars and wait for two months after Ukrainian court!!!
In our case we were blessed with our adoption facilitator who had gone to Russia several times before to get new birth certificates. He knew about some international convention on legal cooperation and assistance which allowed him to enlighten ignorant Russian officers and persuade them that Ukrainian court decree is to be recognized automatically by them.
Thanks to his competence and good knowledge of international law, he got a new birth certificate for our son issued within three days in Russia.
Therefore I am sure that when choosing an adoption facilitator you should weigh his experience, knowledge and competence in adoption law allowing for contingent necessity for his help as a lawyer not just a translator.
I hope that most of my tips will be useful not only for those who get interested in adoption from Ukraine but also for those families who decide to adopt from other countries.
As an adoptive mother who adopted twice and advocates for adoption of Ukrainian kids and especially those kids who have least chance to be adopted, I will be happy to help any family.
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Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experiences and advice with us. As someone who is just starting this process it is very much appreciated and valued. I am glad also for the advice about the adoption facilitator because I had not thought to check on that. Everything so far is to research agencies and in my ignorance I miss some important things to ask.
Thanks again.
Hi Cathy
could you please recommend me a contact e-mail address to your adaption facilitator in Ukraina.
Thank you so much for your help
[QUOTE=CathyStone]As an adoptive family who spent a great deal of time making a choice of a country of adoption, I would like to share our knowledge and experience with those who decided to embark on international adoption but have not chosen a country yet.....
Both times we used the same adoption facilitator.
Dear Cathy,
Thank you for your detailed overview of the adoption process in Ukraine.
I would like to ask you for the contact details of your adoption facilitator in Ukraine as we are considering starting an adoption process there.
Thank you in advance for your kind feedback.
Kind regards,