How to Adopt from Estonia Part 2


This page is for steps 5-6 of How to Adopt from Estonia. For steps 1-4 please read How to Adopt from Estonia.

5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Estonia

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Estonia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purpose of adoption in Estonia.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Estonia generally includes the following:

  • Role of The Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Social Affairs prepares the entire package of adoption documents for approval first by the Minister of Social Affairs and then for the county or city court to make the adoption decision. Once prospective adoptive parents have been approved to adopt, the Ministry places them on a list and begins the process of locating a suitable match Once a match is found, the Ministry notifies the prospective adoptive parents (through the adoption agency).
  • Role of The Court: Estonian adoption law requires court approval of international adoptions and the adoptive parents' presence at the court hearing when the adoption is finalized. The Domiciliary County Government's Children Protection Officer represents the child's rights and will release the child into the adoptive parents' custody.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption agency sends a letter of interest, on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, to the Ministry of Social Affairs indicating the sex and age of the child(ren) they would be interested in adopting as well as information regarding the prospective adoptive parents' age and profession. Once a child is identified, the adoption agency notifies the prospective adoptive parents. The adoption agency then notifies the Ministry of Social Affairs of the prospective adoptive parents' decision to accept or decline a proposed child. (It should be noted that no more than three successive children will be offered to the prospective adoptive parents.)
  • Time Frame: Once a child has been identified, the adoption process takes approximately one year. This estimate includes matching the child and prospective parents, documentation, and the court hearing.
  • Adoption Application: The adoption agency forwards the letter of interest and the adoption application to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
  • Adpotion Fees: While there is no official adoption fee in Estonia, some fees prospective adoptive parents should anticipate include court fees ($10 USD) and new Estonian passports ($25 USD). In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
  • Documents Required: The following is a list of documents needed for adoptions in Estonia:
1. Home study;
2. Medical examination indicating the prospective adoptive parents' state of health;
3. Documents pertaining to the financial condition of the prospective adoptive parents;
4. Copy of marriage certificate;
5. Copies of the prospective adoptive parents' passports;
6. Any other information the parents feel would be useful for the MSW to know, including family heritage, ties to Estonia, letters of reference, etc.; and
7. Documents determining that there is no open criminal record of the prospective adoption parents. NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.

6. Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. After the adoption is approved, the adoptive parents have the right to change the child’s name and apply for a new birth certificate.

2 Estonian Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Estonia.

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy in Tallinn for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child. Read more about the Medical Examination. Specific questions may be addressed to the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia.

Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.

To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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